Holden Chapel


Distinctive for its blue-eaved facade, Holden Chapel was completed in 1744, making it the third oldest building at Harvard and one of the oldest college buildings in America. Mrs. Samuel Holden, the widow of the former governor of the Bank of New England, commissioned the building. She was shocked and outraged that there was no place to worship on the campus of what was then a Divinity School, instantly offering up 400 pounds of sterling for construction.

Since Holden Chapel has opened, it has been used for a variety of purposes. Sorry Mrs. Holden, it has rarely been used for religious stuff. During the Revolutionary War, the chapel was converted into barracks for 160 Revolutionary soldiers. After the soldiers left, the student-run Fire Department moved in until making themselves unwelcome (curious? Come take the tour). Between 1782 and 1850, it was the hub for the Harvard Medical School laboratories. While experiments were conducted upstairs, cadavers were stored in the basement. Creepy!

When the Harvard Medical School moved locations, various student clubs and activities met and socialized at Holden Chapel. The fantastic acoustics allowed the Glee Club to use the chapel as a practice space, which they still do. Along with the Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society and the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum used the space, collectively being known as the Holden Choirs.

During renovation in the late 90s, human bones were discovered in the walls of the basement, quickly being traced back to the Harvard Medical School. It was pretty easy to identify because of the sawed-open skeletons, scientific glassware, and test tubes being found with the bones!

Are we for real? Check out these sites and see for yourself: