The yearlong restoration of Duke Chapel began May 11 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. For service details and answers to other questions, see our Restoration FAQs page.

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.