Campus chapel needs renovations

Jul 05, 2011

The Ida M. Block Memorial Chapel, the oldest surviving building on campus, is in need of repairs. The chapel was designed by Cope and Stewardson, which was a well-known architectural firm, and built in 1896, the year DelVal was founded.

The college founder, Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf, regularly led Jewish worship services there and welcomed students of all faiths.

The chapel is a tangible part of the college’s rich history, so when it needed to be renovated many were eager to get involved.

Noryn Resnick and her husband David have spearheaded a restoration project. The couple and President Emeritus Dr. Joshua Feldstein have made significant financial contributions to help restore the building.

Professional historic restoration specialists assessed the chapel and the work required to restore it. They determined that the restoration would cost about $250,000.

So far, the committee has raised about $42,000, which covered the cost of having the building professionally assessed and putting a new slate roof on the chapel.


Resnick said one donation came from an elderly woman who had memories of the chapel from growing up in the area. She said it was interesting that the chapel has had such a connection to the Doylestown community.

Many members of the DelVal community have personal connections to the building as well. Resnick said some alumni have come back to get married there.

Resnick hopes to raise private donations to cover the cost of repairing and keeping the original stained glass windows, some of which she said are broken. She said the group would also like to replace the doors, repair the interior (including the walls, ceiling and plaster), solve drainage problems outside the building, make it handicapped accessible, fix issues with lighting and address other major items affecting the integrity of the building.

The study also addressed the building’s historical significance and found that the chapel was “inextricably linked” with the history of DelVal.

As the oldest surviving building on campus, some felt the chapel serves as a physical reminder of the remarkable achievements of the founder.

“The chapel stands today as a kind of institutional heart, representing the values of Rabbi Krauskopf and the experiences of the generations of students whose educations he enabled,” reads the report.

Resnick said she has put together a small committee to handle the fundraising and restoration efforts.

She is compiling a list of people who are interested in the project and plans to publish a periodic newsletter to keep them up-to-date.

Donations have come in from alumni and friends of DelVal as well as members of the surrounding community.

Resnick said the project began a little more than two years ago with the mission of reconnecting the college to its Jewish roots.

The chapel restoration project was identified as an integral part of reestablishing an appropriate Jewish presence at the college because of the role it played from the beginning.

In conjunction with the renovation of the chapel, those involved expressed an interest in using it to revisit DelVal’s Jewish roots. A chapter of Hillel, a Jewish student group, was established and asked to organize some of their events at the chapel.

In 2010, Hillel and chapel supporters held an Alumni Shabbat service in the chapel and caught the attention of local newspapers.

“Rabbi Krauskopf would indeed be pleased that a DelVal Jewish student group was once again using the chapel,” said Resnick.

Resnick said the Ida M. Block Memorial Chapel was named in honor of Dr. Krauskopf's sister-in-law and was central to life at the school at its founding.

She said students are interested in holding services in the chapel throughout the year.

How to Help: Contact Resnick at 413-548-3938 or to donate or share your photos, stories or memories of the chapel.