Rollins College Knowles Chapel, Orlando, FL


The Rollins College Knowles Memorial Chapel was a generous gift of Mrs. Frances Knowles Warren in memory of her father Francis Bangs Knowles.

Francis Knowles was one of the members of the Congregational Church whose vision for the first college in the State of Florida resulted in Rollins College in 1885. Mr. Knowles founded the college with a few other colleagues over a hundred years ago in hopes of spurring higher education throughout Florida.

The Knowles Memorial Chapel has stood as a welcoming beacon for the campus for as long as can be remembered. The Rollins College motto "Fiat Lux" is concreted across the entrance to the chapel. This phrase from the book of Genesis, meaning let there be light, stands proudly as a memorial to Francis Bangs Knowles.


rollins college knowles chapel

The chapel began construction in late March 1931 and was completed around the same time, one year later. The chapel was originally located around the center of the campus back then, but was relocated over the years to help preserve the beauty and history of the chapel. The architect of the chapel was the famous ecclesiastical architect, Ralph Adams Cram of the firm of Cram and Ferguson of Boston. Mr. Cram also designed the Church of St. John the Divine in New York City and the chapel on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Of the more then 75 churches that Mr. Cram designed and built throughout his life, this chapel was listed as being his favorite.

In recent years, a renovation funded by the Warren Trusts focused on the Knowles Memorial Chapel. For the first time in the 75 years since the Chapel was built, it underwent a masonry restoration. All the natural stone was restored and damage to the stone and finishes was repaired. Other renovations include exterior paint, new lightning protection on the steeple and addition of another restroom. Ground lighting of the building will soon be installed. Architects with the firms of ACI and Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas were consulted for the project.

The Knowles Memorial Chapel is the center point for all religious services of the campus. The Dean of the Chapel performs marriages, baptisms, funerals and memorial services for members of the Rollins community. He also coordinates a wide variety of activities which provide an important part

of student life at the campus. The Chapel provides pastoral and personal counseling to staff and students, regardless of religious orientation.