Mary Dixon Chapel
Founded in 1746 by members of the Moravian Church, Linden Hall is the oldest boarding school for girls in continuous operation in the United States. Leaders in education, music, and art, the early Moravians believed that both their sons and daughters should be well-educated. Today the school is non-sectarian and welcomes girls of all faiths and walks of life from around the globe. For over 275 years, Linden Hall has helped thousands of girls become strong, confident young women poised to change the world.
Mary Dixon Chapel was built in 1883–85 with funds made available by Mr. George W. Dixon of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and dedicated to the memory of his daughter, Mary Dixon. Mary was a distinguished music student who graduated with the class of 1879. Three years later, her untimely death from tuberculosis left her father devastated. He desired to erect a memorial to commemorate her life as well as benefit the institution in which she was trained.
Designed by architect Willis G. Hale, Mary Dixon Chapel stands 40 by 60 feet, with a spire of 115 feet. Its imposing structure adds much to the beauty of Linden Hall's campus. The building's base is formed of limestone and the buttresses of sandstone, while layers of sandstone and ashlar facing alternate up to the tiled roof. The chapel's interior is divided into an upper and lower floor. On the lower floor is the spacious music room, which boasts oak wainscoting, stained-glass windows, and graceful iron support pillars. Soirées and musicals were once held in this dignified space. The second level is accessible via a noble staircase of beautifully stained and carved California redwood. These stairs lead to winging doors which open into the auditorium, showcasing woodwork of California redwood and cherry.
The chapel’s interior is dominated by three original stained-glass windows as well as other memorial windows added over the years. Along with the handsome finish of the wainscoting and seats, the dark red of the ceiling beams, and the graceful shapes and bright polish of the lamp standards, the illumination of these windows contributes to the unique sense of history and spirituality found in the sanctuary. Moreover, a Hook and Hastings pipe organ, whose sweet tone was heard for many years, was restored through the gift of a generous alumna.
The Mary Dixon Memorial Chapel was built with a father’s love as a place of quiet beauty and peaceful reflection. With his thoughtful and generous gift, George W. Dixon gave generations of young women a source of lasting inspiration and symbol of stability.
In 1970, Headmaster Rev. John Morman searched for a replacement to the chapel organ, which was beyond repair. Looking for one from the same vintage as the chapel, he found the current Hook and Hastings organ, constructed in 1884, in a recently sold Moravian church in Port Washington, Ohio. As the organ was offered free to anyone who would take it apart, Rev. Morman traveled to Ohio, disassembled and numbered the pieces, and stored the instrument until it could be installed. When school adjourned for the summer, Rev. Morman returned to Ohio with groundskeeper Frank Wonder to transport the organ to the chapel, and the pair assembled it on the balcony. For years to come, the American Guild of Organists would visit Linden Hall regularly to view the Hook and Hastings tracker-action organ when they came to see the Tannenberg organ at the Lititz Moravian Church next door.