Some background information: Drexel Hall was built as an Indian School in the 19th century. Indian boys were taken from the reservation and put in this and similar schools. The purpose was to teach them the ways of the white settlers in hopes that they would assimilate. The experiment was a failure, and the plan was abandoned in the Rensselaer Indian school after a few years.
Drexel Hall is on the register of historic places and has an historical plaque associated with it, which reads:
St. Joseph's Indian Normal School --1888-1896-- Erected by the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions with funds from Katharine Drexel and operated by the Society of the Precious Blood with federal funds. 60 Indian boys from distant reservations were annually trained here.Katharine Drexel founded an order of nuns dedicated to helping the poor. The Indian School was one of her accomplishments, but not one of her major ones, as she founded about 60 other schools. She was canonized on October 1, 2000, and several Rensselaerians, including Fr. Len Kosta, went to Rome for the celebration.
The focus of this post, however, is on the chapel that was once on the third floor of Drexel Hall. As you get to the final flight of stairs, the staircase has the only bit of decorative trim of any of the staircases in Drexel.
When you get to the top of the stairs and look down, this is what you see. The interior of the building above the first floor has had no repair--above the first floor, the renovations were only intended to stabilize the exterior.
At the top of the stairs is a large room with a half-circle window. Until Homecoming weekend I had thought that this was the chapel room.
You can see where this room is looking at the outside of the building. There is only one semi-circular window.
Here is a picture of what that window looked like when they were renovating the building.
On Homecoming weekend my camera batteries died while I was going through the building. Not knowing if I would ever get upstairs again, I went home and got a new set of batteries and came back. After wandering around the building some more, I again when upstairs and went through the doorway at the far end of the room shown above. I discovered that it had doors, and those doors said that they were the entrance to a chapel.
The room on the other side was dark and there were strips of cloth hanging from the roof. I think they were a wall covering that had come loose.
At the far end of the room was a small raised platform that looks like it was the base of an altar.
The pews that were once there have been put to other uses. Someone told me that some of them are in use at the chapel in the Care Center, but I have not verified that.