The Creation of the Chapel: An Interview with Barbara Bailey ’58

Barbara Bailey ’58 graduated Concord Academy in 1958 before taking a larger role in the CA community as a teacher. She entered CA as a freshman boarder from Chicago in 1954 and became a teacher 10 years later. While her experiences with CA chapels indefinitely vary from ours today, she did recount many interesting stories from her time here.

Bailey mentioned that over the summer of 1956, then-Head of School Mrs. Elizabeth Hall discovered an unused chapel in New Hampshire that she immediately fell in love with. Hall proceeded to call a select group of CA students to deconstruct the chapel and transport it to Concord where it would become a gathering place for all CA students and faculty. Once transported, Bailey, among other students, helped to rebuild the chapel on CA property where it still remains today. First, students reconstructed the building with professional help. After the reconstruction, Bailey painted the inside with the help of her fellow classmates. She made sure to note that this was something her classmates looked forward to and truly enjoyed; they would spend all their free time painting. Each grade, she said, was given one day off to work on the chapel; painting, carving, building, and much more. Once the paint job was complete, Bailey helped to carve the large Bible excerpt that stands at the front of the cavernous room. In order to make the carving look the best it could, Mrs. Hall ordered that there be one person to carve each letter. Bailey carved all of the A’s that surfaced throughout the Bible excerpt.

     Barbara Bailey still remembers the first service held in the finished chapel. In Christmas of 1956, CA students and faculty gathered for a peaceful ceremony in which they sang carols, lit candles, and celebrated the holiday. At that time, there were no benches in the chapel, so the students had to sit on the floor. Alternatively, the seniors obtained the privilege to sit on the balcony where the faculty sits today. Despite these changes, Bailey recounts her first experience at the chapel to be memorable and special, similar to how many current students would describe it now. However, she can say a lot about chapels that we cannot, since hers was the second graduating class to choose a Bible passage to read aloud upon the chapel opening.

     Now, when Bailey attends reunions held in the since-expanded chapel, she sits by her classmates, recalling memories of the original building’s opening many years ago. Being a part of such a valuable space is very important to her, and it still warms her heart to this day. In addition to providing early chapel information, Bailey gave some valuable advice for current students as she reflected on her time at CA. She recommends for students to take advantage of the amazing courses offered, pursue what they love, and stay true to themselves at the school that has had such an impact on her.