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Hamilton Chapel Renovation

Hamilton Chapel Renovation

The Hamilton Chapel was built in 1840 and moved from Connecticut to a prominent position on the Belmont Hill campus in 1960. Since then, it has housed weekly assemblies, occasional lectures, and fall and spring school concerts. For quite a while, the chapel had been too small to accommodate both the faculty and students. The primary impetus for the chapel’s expansion was to increase the seat count so that the school’s 450 students and 75 faculty members can attend all-school assemblies.

Belmont Hill School
Belmont, MA
Completed: 2020 12,500 sf

The Hamilton Chapel was built in 1840 as a Methodist church in West Thompson, Connecticut, and was gifted to the Belmont Hill School (for boys grades 7-12) in 1960. Resettled in a prominent position on campus, the chapel has since housed weekly assemblies, occasional lectures, and fall and spring school concerts. Over time, however, the spacegrew too small to accommodate both faculty and students for all-school assemblies. Experts at historic preservation, Bruner/Cott was commissioned to restore the building to its original condition while adding a 2,500 sf addition to expand its seating to 525 (450 students and 75 faculty) to accommodate all attendees.

The existing building comprises approximately 8,250 gross square feet in total area and sits 2 stories above grade with a basement that had been underused prior to the interventions. The above-grade levels are used for assembly gathering space and feature fixed bench seating on the ground floor and balcony. The addition includes a new footprint area of 2,500 gross square feet, adding approximately 5,000 square feet of program space. The renovation includes new electrical and mechanical systems, an enlarged stage platform, additional bench pews, and the fit-out of a lower level reception room. All upgrades are compliant with 521 CMR for Existing Buildings.

While the primary purpose of this project was to increase the chapel’s seating capacity, it also provides numerous secondary benefits for the school community at large.