Marsh Plaza was dedicated in 1949, the culmination of the vision and persistence of Methodist minister, Daniel L. Marsh (School of Theology 1908), the fourth president of Boston University (1926-1950).
On May 16, 1975, Free at Last, the soaring sculpture by Sergio Castillo was unveiled in memory of one of BU's greatest's alumni, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (GRS '55, Hon. '59) nearly a decade before federal legislation created Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The fifty doves flying in formation represent peace in all fifty states. The sculpture’s granite base is engraved with some of King’s famous quotations on peace and equality. Campus legend says when a virgin student graduates, all the birds will fly away.
Marsh Chapel, built between 1939 and 1948 and dedicated in 1950, sits
at the heart of the Boston University campus and serves the campus in
two distinct ways--housing the Office of the University Chaplain and
the center for the Interdenominational Christian Ministries on campus.
The inscription welcoming visitors to the chapel does not mention
Jesus, and no cross was included in the sanctuary's ornamentation.
The foundation of the chapel contains stones from Jesus College and
St. John's College, both at England's Oxford University.
The Chapel, symbolizing a unifying force (and geographical center) among all the diverse elements forming the University is joined on one side to the College of Arts and Scienes, and on the other to the School of Theology. Modeled after the "Old Stump", the cathedral of Boston England, a vision which was never realized.
The great windows in the Nave, designed by the famed Connick Associates of Boston in 1916, were moved from the old theology building on Beacon Hill when Marsh Chapel was erected . Starting from the balcony and going counterclockwise, the four persons depicted from Hebrew scriptures are: Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Isaiah. In each case there is a medallion at the bottom of each window, which pictures an important scene in the life of each. On the east side of the church are four figures from the New Testament: John the Baptist, Peter, Paul and John. On the west side are four leaders of the early church, Athanasius, Augustine, St. Francis of Assissi and Martin Luther. The Methodist heritage of the school is represented by John Wesley and Francis Asbury. Two 19th century leaders are found pictured in the last window: Abraham Lincoln and Frances Willard, who was the dean at Northwestern University and one of the early and great leaders of the women's movement.
The smaller windows have themes: On the east, great doors which have been important in the history of the Church are depicted. They are both ecumenical and interfaith. On the west are depicted towers which are part of our heritage. One of them, Christ Church College at Oxford, was the place the young Wesley was trained, and a stone from another Oxford college is part of the cornerstone of our Chapel.
The statues in the reredos (the carved wooden screen) in front of the church were created by Arcangelo Casieri. The four Gospel writers flank a statue of our Lord. The heads of Bach and Handel are carved into the newel posts at the entrance to the pulpit and lectern. The round rose window over the altar is framed by the pipes of the rebuilt Cassavant organ.