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Brandeis University-Harlan Chapel

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Brandeis University-Harlan Chapel

Spiritual Space Item Type Metadata


Brandeis University

Spiritual Space

Harlan Chapel

Work Type



Waltham MA


dedicated on Oct. 20, 1955


The Brandeis University Chapels were designed to be equal in size and situated so that one never casts a shadow on another. The three chapels surround Chapel Pond. Harlan Chapel is a Protestant Chapel and is named for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Marshall Harlan, in recognition of his dissent against "separate but equal" provisions in the law.

The original design - for a single chapel - was defined by a rhythm of undulating brick walls, which enclosed a common area of worship for all three faiths. Because the chancellery of the Archdiocese in Boston objected to the original interdenominational character of the chapel, a revised proposal with three separate areas of worship in the same building was devised. When the site for the chapel was consecrated in 1952, the projected chapel, which was to be a chapel for Jewish worship that would offer hospitality to all students, was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz of New York. The student body strongly opposed the project urging the University to follow the original plan for an interfaith chapel. In response, the architects submitted a revised design in which there were two small rooms attached for the worship of other faiths. The student protest did not subside as this proposal denied the concept of equality and brotherhood for which they strove. In October 1953, University officials agreed to build three separate chapels, giving each faith its own house of worship. In 1956, the Three Chapels received the American Institute of Architects Award of Merit. Over the years, they have been used for religious services, weddings, funerals, and special University events.

Seating Capacity


Other Spaces in Facility

There are kosher and traditional kitchens on campus, although not in the Chapels.

Religious Life Staff


(c)Brandeis University

Image Source

Michael Lovett



“Brandeis University-Harlan Chapel,” Spiritual Spaces, accessed March 1, 2024, http://omeka.wellesley.edu/spiritualspaces/items/show/29.