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UMass’ landmark Old Chapel has new lease on life

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BusinessWest

BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the Old Chapel restoration, and how a university that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to add new facilities to the landscape has made an equally important investment in preserving the past.

Originally, the first floor functioned as the school library, while the second floor was the college chapel. The library remained there until 1935, when it was renovated and used for classrooms. In subsequent years, the building served as home for the Department of Music and Performing Arts, and, later, the highly acclaimed UMass marching band.

Indeed, all that most students who were on campus during the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s knew of the chapel was the sounds of the band practicing, which permeated its thick walls.

While the chapel’s tower, clock, and bells underwent extensive renovations in 1998 and 1999, the interior was essentially neglected, said Blaguszewski, adding that the school could never seem to find the money for what would certainly be a very involved effort to restore, renovate, and modernize the structure to meet modern building codes.

And that’s where things stood until Subbaswamy’s now-famous tour and his stated commitment to returning Old Chapel to something approximating its former glory.

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