“In grateful memory of the Harvard men who died in the World War we have built this Church.”
Harvard’s fifth official chapel, Memorial church replaced Appleton Chapel which had stood on the same spot since 1858.
The church was dedicated on Armistice Day 1932 under the presidency of A. Lawrence Lowell. It combined Harvard’s need for both a worship space large enough for Sunday services and a memorial for the Harvard students who fought and died during WWI. There are 372 names on that memorial, etched under these words:
While a bright future beckoned
they freely gave their lives and fondest hopes
for us and our allies
that we might learn from them courage
in peace to spend
our lives making a better world for others
Since its dedication, Harvard men and women have participated in more conflicts around the world. A wall in main sanctuary now bears the names of 694 students who died in WWII, 17 who fought in Korea and 22 who fought in Vietnam.
The church is used today for nondenominational services for the faculty and students and its South entrance forms the stage for Harvard’s graduation ceremonies every spring.