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1. A lesser or inferior place of worship, sometimes a part of, or subordinate to, another church. 2. A place of worship not connected with a church. — Webster, 1882

The Iowa College for the Blind is in the midst of commencement exercises for the college year… Today the commencement exercises were held in the college chapel, interspersed with both vocal and instrumental music. – Council Bluffs Iowa Evening Nonpareil

In These Happy Golden Years (see Chapter 16, “Summer Days”), Mary Ingalls attended Sunday services with the rest of the Ingalls family in the newly-constructed Congregational Church in De Smet. She commented that she “liked it very much, after the small chapel at college.” As students at the College for the Blind were expected to attend Sunday church services in Vinton, it’s unclear if Mary was comparing the De Smet church to the church she attended in Vinton or to the chapel at school, shown here.

Mary commented that “there were so many strangers” at the De Smet service. The Congregational Year-Book for 1884 recorded that there were fifty-eight members of the De Smet congregation at the time, up from twenty in 1882. Of course, non-members attended as well as members; in the Ingalls family alone, only half were ever on the church roll. Size-wise, the De Smet sanctuary measured 28 by 48 feet.

The chapel at the College for the Blind during the Mary Ingalls years was located on the top floor and extended the entire width of the building at the north end; it was later moved. A large stage platform spanned one side and the organ stood at one end. The chapel could accommodate 400 chairs, so it provided ample space for the entire student body of about two hundred. Students attended two thirty-minute chapel sessions daily, at 7:15 a.m. and at 7 p.m. The chapel was also used for Sunday afternoon Sabbath school and it was where entertainments and graduation ceremonies took place.


chapel (THGY 16)