The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

No injuries as fire damages St. Alban’s chapel

A fire that broke out May 26 in a balcony above the organ console has caused extensive damage to St. Alban’s Collegiate Chapel.

University Park firefighters who arrived at the scene around 10:15 p.m. determined that the fire was caused by an electrical shortage above the organ and spread primarily through the finish on the ceiling.

The chapel and the Canterbury House located in the 3300 block of Daniel Ave. are home to the Episcopal Church’s ministry for college students in the Dallas area.

An employee of the chapel refused to comment on the fire, but referred The Daily Campus to a press release issued by the Canterbury community.

According to the fire department’s report, the first floor of the chapel received minor damage. But the press release reports that the fire “completely destroyed the pipe organ and caused extensive damage to the chapel.”

The pipe organ, built by Charles McManis, was installed in Jan. 1953. The chapel was awarded the Texas Architecture Award in the same year.

Canterbury House, which stands connected to the chapel, suffered smoke damage and had windows broken and a hole cut in the roof by firefighters to ventilate the building.

For over 50 years, the chapel and house have served the spiritual needs of Episcopal college students from area universities. The chapel hosted regular Sunday services, and local residents drive from all over the metroplex to spend time with other Episopalian young people.

Due to safety concerns, visitors were asked to refrain from entering the chapel in the week after the fire.

“Canterbury was home for me from day one,” Martha Schattman, a long-time St. Alban’s member, was quoted as saying in the press release. “It offered me a couch to sleep on, a house to study and do homework in and the chapel to pray and meditate in at all hours of the day and night. I could never have passed my classes without it.”

Despite the destruction, Revered Canon Barbara Kelton, who was on sabbatical for the summer, returned to lead a service Sunday in the Cloister behind the house.

“The heart of St. Alban’s is our spiritual community,” Kelton said. “We are thankful that no one was injured and confident that with God’s help we will rebuild and continue in this important ministry.”

Episcopal services will be held at 5 p.m. on Sundays in Perkins Chapel for the remainder of the summer.

Those interested in helping with the rebuilding campaign are asked to contact Genevieve Razim at (214) 363-2911.

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