Niagara University’s Alumni Chapel reopened Palm Sunday, April 11, after a three-month hiatus to allow for extensive repairs and restoration. The last time the chapel was renovated was in 1987.
The restoration included plaster repair and a total repainting of the interior; refinishing of pews, floors, and other wood surfaces; and cleaning of all the artistic elements of the chapel, including shrines and stained glass windows. The next steps include reupholstering the pew cushions and, through the generosity of the Niagara University alumni, the installation of a state-of-the-art lighting control system to complement the new sound and video system that was installed in 2019.
Alumni Hall/Chapel is the second-oldest building on the Niagara University campus. Original construction began in 1874, but a lack of funds prevented the building to be completed for more than a decade. In 1888, after a successful alumni fundraising effort, the chapel opened. Through the years, it has undergone several restorations—twice due to fires which consumed all but the exterior walls. In 1987, the chapel was given the formal name of Sacred Heart Chapel, although Alumni Chapel continues to be its popular name.
The renovation project was planned and accomplished collaboratively with Robert Morreale, NU’s chief financial and innovation officer; the Rev. Aidan R. Rooney, C.M., vice president for mission integration; and Daniel McMann, director of Facility Services. The project was supervised by McMann, with Keith Sargent of the university's Facility Services, and UG2. The delicate repair and painting was executed by McHugh Painting Co., Inc., of Clarence, N.Y.