Alumni Memorial Chapel

26 05 2017

Outside of the Alumni Memorial Chapel; undated (A006549)

Located on Auditorium Rd, situated next to the Kresge Art Center and across the street from Baker Hall, is the Alumni Memorial Chapel. A small chapel, most people walk by paying it no attention, but it is a stop all MSU students and alumni should make. Construction on the chapel began in 1950 and was dedicated on Alumni Day, June 7, 1952. The alumni of MSU paid for the chapel to memorialize all Spartan men and women that served in the United States military forces and died while serving their country during World War II. Inside the chapel’s narthex, above the entrance to the nave, is a sign that reads, “These names represent those who died in the armed forces” and the walls are engraved with 589 names and dates of the men and women that died. Even though the chapel was dedicated to the fallen during World War II, all MSU affiliated men and women that died during military service have been included in the memorial. The earliest dates go back to 1861 when the first graduating class of MSU and students associated with the class of 1861 left to go fight in the Civil War and the latest names from 2005.

The chapel is an interdenominational spiritual center for all faiths and religions. The beauty of the chapel lies in the thirty-eight stained glass windows. The window designs were selected so any person of any faith can enter the chapel and not feel offended by symbols of any religion and most are arranged into groups of three, also called a triptych. The windows on the left side represent education experiences as they relate to modern life. The windows on the right side tell the history of Michigan State University, and the windows at the front represent, “Religion, Brotherhood, and Patriotism.”


Dedication of the Alumni Memorial Chapel; June 7, 1952 (A006547)

Throughout the chapel are thirty-one stones taken from various European bombed cathedrals that have been set into the walls of the narthex, nave, chancel, and basement. Four stones are from England, two from France, twenty-four from Germany, and one from the Netherlands. Examples of some of the stones originate from St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Cathedral of Regensburg in Germany, and more.  There is also a stone from the White House and a stone from the grave of Henry F. Lyte, composer of “Abide with Me” for a total of thirty-three stones.  Along with the stones, in a wooden display case in the narthex, is a collection of old Bibles. Sixty-nine bibles are in different languages, including Swahili and Burmese. Also included is a King James Bible from 1759.

The Alumni Chapel is open year round and holds over 160 weddings annually. A wide assortment of ceremonies take place at the chapel and can only be reserved by only MSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and their parents/grandparents.


Procession during the dedication of the Alumni Memorial Chapel; June 7, 1952 (A006548)

The next time you visit campus, make a detour to the Alumni Chapel if you have never visited it before. It is a beautiful chapel that is open and welcoming to all faiths and a memorial to all the Spartan men and women that died in the line of service to our country.

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist

Update: If you want to learn more about the history of the Alumni Memorial Chapel and see related documents/photographs, please visit:




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