Amherst Magazine

Two Views of Johnson Chapel

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In a couple of weeks, after they unpack and choose courses, the newest Amherst students will officially gather for the first time as the Class of 2014. This gathering will take place, as always, in a building not simply at Amherst but of Amherst. Johnson Chapel, in addition to its role as classroom, office, concert venue, lecture hall, landmark and, yes, chapel, is where two of the most intimate and enduring Amherst traditions take place: Opening Convocation on Labor Day, when the president and faculty welcome the new first-year class, and Senior Assembly in May—bookends to both the academic year and the college experience.

As the chapel prepares to receive yet another mass of 18-year-olds, we present here two very different views of the building. The first is a photo series by Amherst magazine photographer Samuel Masinter ’04, who’s among the rare few to ever find his way (legally) inside the JChap clock tower. The second is an essay by Henry Clay Folger Professor of English William H. Pritchard ’53, whose long history with the chapel began in 1949, when he himself arrived as an Amherst freshman.

Photo by Samuel Masinter '04