Preparing Duke Chapel for Restoration
Work over the past month has ranged from removing all pews, furniture and original chandeliers to erecting large amounts of interior and exterior scaffolding for the ceiling restoration and roof replacement.
Extra care is being taken while removing the Chapel’s stained glass panels that comprise the windows. Seven stained glass windows are having their glass panels removed and cleaned and lead caning replaced at special stained glass studios.
This same care is applied to other aspects of the work, including covering and protecting the Aeolian (Chancel) and Brombaugh (Memorial Chapel) organ pipes and façade, (This work will be done on the Flentrop pipes and façade soon.) and removing the Chapel’s original 26 chandeliers. Each ceiling-mounted chandelier from the early 1930s has been removed and placed in its own box; the chain for each chandelier has also been removed and placed in its own box. Each piece is numbered so crews know where to re-install when work is completed.
In July, all scaffolding is expected to be erected and work will commence on restoring the Chapel’s limestone ceiling. Over the years, clay tile between the limestone ribs in the ceiling has aged, slowly absorbing moisture over the decades. As the tiles take in moisture from the air, they expand in their wishbone design, shifting pressure and creating a need for restoration. Engineers will carefully grind brittle mortar away - 3/8 of an inch between each limestone rib - and replace it with new, more flexible material.