Oreon E. Scott Chapel
Oreon E. Scott Chapel
Originally submitted by: Cara Collins, Drake University, Dec 2, 2010
Religion; many people have their own understanding on what it means but for the beginning times of Drake University] and the School of Divinity, it meant having a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Oreon E. Scott Chapel was built to provide a calm and distraction free atmosphere where people could meditate, worship, and have a closer presence with God. Although the chapel was designed to be used as a Christian Chapel, many have used it from a variety of faiths. Faith itself played a key role in the founding of Drake University. Drake's Bible College was well-known with its affiliation with the Disciples of Christ Church. The construction of Oreon E. Scott Chapel and Charles Medbury Hall began in December of 1953. The Chapel was then completed on January 20, 1955 and dedicated on November 8 of that same year. During this period of construction Dean McCaw, head of the bible college, sought to enhance the building and use it to its full potential. It cost a grand total of 40,000 dollars and stands at a height of 14 feet with a diameter of 32 feet. 
The building itself was named after Dr. Oreon E. Scott, donor of the chapel. Dr. Oreon E. Scott was a life member of the Drake board of trustees along with being a leading layman among the Disciples of Christ Church. In the year 1933, he received a Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree as well as created a scholarship fund, a book fund, and a senior award helping to provide many students with the opportunity to experience Drake University for themselves. 
Architecure and Symbolism
Even though the exterior of the Chapel might look a little peculiar at first glance, once one knows the meaning behind it, it is not so bizarre. The shape of the building, a circle, stands for equality, the close-binding fellowship of humanity, and eternity. Many early Christian churches were built this way in order to show the different meaning it contains. It also is built out of brick, which is a distinction between the chapel and the surrounding buildings because the buildings in the vicinity are all made from glass. Oreon E. Scott Chapel also includes a skylight.  On top of this skylight is a sphere in the center of a bronze crown with a cross above the sphere. The sphere itself represents the world and the multiple things surrounding it. 
In the interior of the Chapel, the only natural light provided is that from the skylight which focuses on the communion table being four feet in diameter and is centered in the middle of the building. In entering the chapel, one must decide to move left or right because a screen blocks the view from others as well as light from outside and any draft there may be. Once inside, one can choose from twenty seats lined around a cement slab with a prayer railing the only item between them. A person is able to have the peace and quiet of worshiping without being disturbed even if there are other people in the room because the lighting creates a sense of peace and solitude. However, lights aimed at the stone illuminate the faces of others around and cause them to be shadow figures lighted with radiance, which represents divinity. But there has been a debate where the bronze crown has been placed. It has been missing since the re-roofing in 1981. There is also no alter, pulpit, or any principal seat, creating a feeling of equality before God. 
Not only has the chapel been used for worship but on Valentine's Day of 1985, a couple was wedded in the Oreon E. Scott Chapel itself. On average a wedding is hosted there once a month, according to Rachel Buckles, secretary to the department of religion and philosophy. The Chapel has also brought in many students from surrounding schools that study the building and marvel at its architectural design. 
- 1) Boyd, P. (1985, February 15). Oreon Scott Chapel hosts wedding. Times-Delphic.
- 2) Oreon E. Scott meditation chapel. (article)
- 3) The Rev. C.E. Lemmon to speak at Scott Chapel dedication. (1955, November 8). Times-Delphic.
- 4) Fausch, D. (1955, February 11). Scott Chapel features unique glass skylight. Times-Delphic.
- 5) (1953). The Quax, Retrieved from http://ddr.lib.drake.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=%2Fyearbooks&CISOPTR=10794&REC=1&CISOBOX=McCaw