Knowles Memorial Chapel


Upward view of the chapels organ pipes and large stained-glass window. Photo by Jason Fronczek

Upward view of the chapels organ pipes and large stained-glass window. Photo by Jason Fronczek


The spire of Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College can be seen high above the canopy of oak trees and buzzing minds. Daily, you can hear its bell sing at noon, throughout campus and into downtown Winter Park. The Chapel, completed in 1932, is the design of architect Ralph Adams Cram. It was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Cram, who designed more than 75 churches and cathedrals, took special care in this project. He is quoted as having said:

“Knowles Chapel has become my pet. I feel as though I have a personal interest in the church, and I like to refer to it as MY church”

The Chapel is designed in the style of Mediterranean Revival, which takes influence from Gothic architecture as well as from Spanish and Italian Renaissance styles. Mediterranean Revival reached a height of popularity between 1920 & 1930, and can be seen in many religious and residential buildings throughout Florida and California.

“Wisdom is Better Than Strength”

Mediterranean Revival is known for its articulate entrances, stuccoed walls, tile roofs, and circular or arched windows. All these components are prevalent in the Knowles Memorial Chapel design.

Inside, six massive, blunt arches suspend the soaring wooden roof of the sanctuary. English stained glass with geometric designs line the exterior walls and cast a calm light upon the antique wooden pews and aged Spanish terra cotta tiles. Ornate ecclesiastical wooden sculptures and rich designs decorate the walls and ceiling supporting the doctrinal theme. It is easy to get lost in beautiful details and the sweet smell of cool, calm air. At the exit, there is a large round stained glass window high overhead. This window was designed by Wilbur Burnham Glassmakers of Boston. Installed in 1934, it depicts the seven liberal arts of Greek Education and suggests that “Wisdom Is Better Than Strength”.



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