Local News

Duke Chapel reopens following year-long restoration project

Posted May 11, 2016 7:20 p.m. EDT

— Duke Chapel reopened Wednesday following a 366-day restoration project.

The chapel's reopening will be one of senior Elsa Sanabria's last chances to see the building.

"A lot of students are gone right now, they went to the beach or went home, but I decided to stay so I could come to the chapel opening," she said.

Duke President Richard Brodhead led visitors in for the first time Wednesday afternoon.

"It is even more beautiful and grander than I remembered," Sanabria said.

During the year-long project, crews replaced damaged mortar from the limestone on the ceiling. Pews were also refinished and a new air conditioning system was installed.

University officials said they hope visitors do not even notice the updates. The goal was for everything to look the same - just better.

"It is the heart and soul of this community," said visitor Pepper Fluke.

Duke Chapel Dean Luke Powery said preserving the building for future generations is very important.

"It is a living tradition. It is not dead, it is fully alive," Powery.

A special program was held Wednesday evening in the chapel. It included a conversation with staff and a performance by the Vespers Ensemble.