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Sage Chapel

Sage Chapel is the non-denominational Christian chapel on the campus of Cornell University and serves as the final resting place of the university's founders, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, and their wives.

 

Located on the north end of Ho Plaza, Sage Chapel first opened in 1875. This non-denominational Christian chapel is a grand space that has hosted many weddings over the centuries.

Location

147 Ho Plaza, Ithaca, NY 14853

Rental Fee

The 2022 rental fee is $2,000 per timeslot for Sage Chapel. There are additional charges for any staffing, catering, or rentals. Conference & Event Services will work with you on the specifics for your event to provide a full quote.

Availability

No Saturday weddings will be scheduled in Sage Chapel that conflict with major University events, e.g., New Student Orientation, Convocation, December Recognition Ceremony for December Graduates, etc. or major religious events, e.g., Holy Week and Easter, Passover, and Ramadan. No Sunday weddings will be scheduled in Sage Chapel.

Year of 2023

  • Timeslot 1 - 11:00am-1:30pm Saturday 
  • Timeslot 2 - 1:30pm-4:00pm Saturday 
  • Timeslot 3 - 4:00pm-6:30pm Saturday
Submit an Inquiry at this link.

It is expected that the set-up, the ceremony, all post-ceremony photography, clean-up, and departure of all guests will be concluded by the end of the reserved time.

Details

Sage Chapel has a capacity of approximately 600 people. Roughly 500 guests can sit in the pews, with an additional 100 chairs in the choir area if needed.

The Chapel features a pipe organ, a baroque organ, and two concert grand pianos. There are podium microphones, two handheld microphones, and a lapel microphone that feed into an in-house audio-visual system. There is an audio jack to connect devices to the in-house system.

The Memorial Chapel is commonly used as the place for the wedding party to line up before a wedding. Few couples use it as a space to dress. Room dividers, mirrors, and fans can be set up in the Memorial Chapel if requested.

History 

This non-denominational chapel is the burial ground for Cornell’s founders Ezra Cornell, Andrew Dickson White, and Henry William Sage.

Cornell University was founded as a non-sectarian institution, drawing some criticism of "godlessness." In response, Henry W. Sage, donated funds for the establishment of the chapel. Sage stipulated two conditions for the gift: that the chapel "would never be delivered over to one sect," and that "students should be attracted but not coerced into it." Henry Sage's son Dean Sage later endowed the position of chaplain.

Opening services were held on June 13, 1875 with Reverend Phillips Brooks of Boston's Trinity Church presiding.

Sage Chapel originally featured a 75-foot tower with a spire and belfry. In 1875, the tower held one of two electric arc lamps installed on campus by professor of physics William Arnold Anthony. The lamps were "visible for many miles around, and it excited the wonder of the inhabitants." Said Thomas Hewett Waterman, a University historian. Sage Chapel has hosted many speakers, including Lyman Beecher, John R. Mott, Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Stephen Samuel Wise, Martin Luther King Sr., Martin Luther King Jr., Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Elie Wiesel, Abraham Heschel, Hans Küng, Harold Kushner, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, Carl Sagan, Jane Goodall, Arianna Huffington, and Peter Gomes.

At the front of Sage Chapel, a mosaic frieze designed by Ella Condie Lamb called "The Realm of Learning" depicts the work of the University. At its very center is a woman seated on a throne representing Philosophy, flanked by figures representing Truth and Beauty. The larger images of a man and woman to her left and right represent Cornell's commitment to coeducation. On either side are three women: to the right of the central figure, representing the Sciences (Biology, Astronomy, and Physics), and to the left representing the Arts (Literature, Architecture, and Music). This beautiful representation of higher learning was part of an addition to Sage Chapel in 1898.