Duke University Chapel reopened to the public Wednesday, May 11, 2016, with a daylong celebration. Learn more.

The yearlong restoration of Duke Chapel began May 11, 2015, with construction crews focusing on preparing Duke’s signature building to rehabilitate the limestone ceiling and replace its original roof. While the building is being worked on, Chapel services will be held in various locations on campus.

March Update

Putting the place back together

Nave with pewsThe pews have returned to the Chapel after having been refinished. Other woodwork in the nave and chancel is also being refinished.

The chandeliers, with new LED lights, are back hanging in the main sanctuary.

The new HVAC system is in place in the basement, as is much of the upgraded electrical and AV wiring.

Workers are now focused on landscaping, touch up jobs, and testing the electrical and AV systems.

Photos by Ray Walker, Duke Facilities staff architect.

February Update

Stained glass windows and woodwork complete; infrastructure work continues

ChancelThe Chapel is gradually regaining its character as all of the exterior scaffolding has been removed. Much of the interior scaffolding has also been taken down.

With the building’s roof replaced and ceiling restored, other parts of the yearlong restoration project are coming to completion. All of the chancel stained glass windows have been cleaned and put back in place. The woodwork in the chancel has been refurbished. The slate walkway around the back of the Chapel has been put back in place.

Work inside the building is now focused on infrastructure upgrades to the electrical, audio-visual and HVAC systems. Outside the building, crews are beginning to restore the landscaping on the Chapel’s north and south sides that had been cleared to make room for construction materials.

Photos by Ray Walker, Duke Facilities staff architect.

January Update

Scaffolding removed from the nave; infrastructure upgrades in progress

Chapel nave panoramaAll scaffolding has been removed from the Chapel’s nave but remains in the chancel for work there on the windows and woodwork.

Work on the Chapel’s roofs continues to progress from top to bottom. Crews have finished replacing the lead-coated copper roof sheets above the triforia. Work continues on the roofs above Memorial Chapel and the dean’s office. As each section of roof is completed, the scaffolding used to access it is taken down.

Washing Chapel exterior

Stone masons are re-laying the slate walkway running around the back of the Chapel from the Bryan Center to the Divinity School, which had been removed to allow for the installation of electrical ductwork.

Also still in progress are infrastructure upgrades, including the installation of audio-visual wiring, high voltage electricity equipment, steam pipes and air handlers.

And … the Chapel got a bath! Workers pressure washed the limestone façade above the main entrance.

Watch Duke Facilities architect and project manager Ray Walker explain the process for the Chapel restoration project in this video:

Photos by Ray Walker, Duke Facilities staff architect.

November Update

Ceiling repairs complete; top-level of roofing replaced

Cleaning dust off the Chapel wallsWork on the highest places of the Chapel is finished. The building has a new lead-coated copper roof over its main footprint. Workmen have inspected, and repaired when necessary, all of its spires.

Progress at the top means some of the tallest scaffolding has been taken down and repositioned. The higher scaffolding around the backside of the Chapel will remain until the windows in the Chancel are replaced.

Restoration work on the ceiling of the nave has also been completed, along with repairs on the walls to the window tracery. Craftsmen have finished refurbishing woodwork in the chancel and transepts.

The ditches outside the Chapel are for new underground high-voltage cables to supply the building’s upgraded electrical system.

Crews are now working on replacing the roofing above the triforia and the Aeolian organ chambers. In the nave, workmen are methodically removing away dust from top to bottom. In the basement, preparation is underway for the installation of new air-handling units.

Photo by Ray Walker, Duke Facilities staff architect.

September Update

New roof, air conditioning system highlight September’s work

From front to back, scaffolding surrounds Duke Chapel, and five months since the structure’s first major restoration began, crews are busy with repairs and enhancements to the 80-year old signature building.

Much of the recent work will continue into October, including replacement of lead coated copper roof sheets. About 95 percent of the Chapel’s upper-level roof has been replaced with the remaining work set to finish by mid-October. As work completes, the highest tiers of scaffolding will be taken down and continue to lose levels until restoration is completed in April 2016.

Chapel RoofThe next phase of the restoration project, begun around the first of September, is the revitalization of the oak woodwork and wood carving in the building's chancel and transepts. The wood is vacuumed, dusted, then touched up with sanding and repairs to fix any scratches or old finishing blemishes.

Crews have also recently demolished and removed the Chapel’s 30-year-old air conditioning system; a new system will be installed and functioning when the building reopens.

The longest-term project to repair mortar joints in the ceiling has finished in the Chapel’s transepts and masons will now focus attention on the nave’s ceiling and window tracery joints. During this process, craftsmen carefully grind 3-6 inches of damaged mortar away  - and replace it with new, more flexible material.

The Rev. Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, said he’s been delighted with ongoing progress reports he’s received from Duke’s Facilities Management Department.

“The project team's good work is ensuring the safety and beauty of this towering icon of the university for years to come,” Powery said. “Whether the doors are open or closed, Duke Chapel remains a symbol of the university’s past and our future as a thriving community that bridges faith and learning.”

Photo by Ray Walker, Duke Facilities staff architect.