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Gerrard Hall (New Chapel)

Gerrard Hall (New Chapel)

This modest building is now little noticed on Cameron Avenue between South Building, the Campus Y, and Memorial Hall. Construction took place between 1822 and 1837, halted by the lack of funds. It was the university's second chapel, replacing Person Hall for that purpose, in an era when students began each day with mandatory religious services. Gerrard was also used for commencement and other official functions. President James K. Polk (UNC class of 1818) spoke there for commencement in 1841, as did President James Buchanan in 1859 and President Andrew Johnson in 1867.

Gerrard, along with Old West and the extant design of the quad around the Old Well, are the work of noted architect William Nichols. Along with the other antebellum buildings, Gerrard was built using an enslaved labor force, including people enslaved by Nichols and by university trustee William Polk.

Gerrard has entrances on two sides, a feature that shows how university plans change over time. Not long after it was completed a portico was added on the south side, as university officials thought to face the entrance toward a planned east-west avenue in that direction. In 1900 the portico came down, as the anticipated avenue had not been built, and two entrances were built into the building's east side. Between the two is a marble dedicatory plaque with the biblical phrase from Micah: "To do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." In the early 2000s university architects rebuilt the south portico.

The building is named for Charles Gerrard, a Revolutionary War veteran who bequeathed the university nearly 14,000 acres in Tennessee, part of which he received for his service to the state in the Revolutionary War. Funds from the sale of these lands paid to complete the chapel construction in 1837.

Date Established: 1822

Date Range: 1822 – Present

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