History of Lindsey Chapel

These pages are based on Mike Shea’s brochure, portions of which were derived from The Leslie Lindsey Memorial: Being the Chapel of Emmanuel Church, Boston USA (1938); A Brief Description of the Chapel of Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston (undated); Marsha Fader, The Architectural Significance of the Leslie Lindsey Chapel (Address given November 7, 1974); and Diana Preston, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (NY: Walker, 2002).

Leslie Hawthorne Lindsey


Marriage:  April 21, 1915

  • Leslie (aged 28) married Stewart Southam Mason (aged 30) of Ipswich, England.
  • Elwood Worcester (rector, 1904-1929) officiated.
  • Her sister Dorothy was maid of honor and brother Kenneth was best man.

Death:  May 7, 1915

  • The Lusitania sank in 18 minutes by a U-boat 11 miles off Ireland.
  • Of 1962 passengers and crew, 761 survived and 1201 were lost.
  • An Irish fishing tug recovered her body 20 miles from the site.

Funeral:  June 15, 1915

  • The bridal ushers served as pallbearers at Emmanuel Church.
  • Her tombstone at Mt. Auburn Cemetery bears as epitaph the hymn title “The King of Love my Shepherd Is”.

Building the Memorial Chapel

  • December 8, 1919: Vestry accepted gift of proposed chapel
  • 1920: Cornerstone laid
  • 1922: William Lindsey died
  • October 1, 1924: Chapel consecrated

Leslie’s grieving parents, William and Anne Lindsey, decided to build a Lady chapel at Emmanuel Church as a memorial to their daughter and her husband. In 1919 the Lindseys purchased 27 Newbury Street, a brownstone adjoining Emmanuel Church, and offered Emmanuel a memorial chapel to be built on the site, using the finest materials and workmanship that America and Europe could provide. Its construction at a cost of $500,000 was overseen by a three-person committee consisting of Mr. Lindsey, Emmanuel’s rector Elwood Worcester, and Emmanuel’s architect Francis R. Allen. The cornerstone was laid in the spring of 1920. Leslie Lindsey Memorial Chapel was consecrated by William Lawrence, Bishop of Massachusetts, on October 1, 1924, the twentieth anniversary of Dr. Worcester’s rectorship. The communion hymn at the dedication service was “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”

The Boston Athenaeum has a print of the chapel’s facade by Sears Gallagher.

William Lindsey (1858-1922) was a cotton yarn salesman from Fall River, who moved to Boston as a young man and married Anne Hawthorne Sheen(1863-1943) of Dorchester. WilliamLindsey253His affairs prospered after he acquired the patent on a jute-webbing ammunition belt that was widely adopted in America and Europe after the Boer War. In 1904 the prosperous industrialist was able to retire from business at the age of 46. Although he did not have a college education because his father put him to work very young, he had a deep interest in literature, and thereafter devoted himself to a literary life. In 1905 he built for his wife and three children a richly decorated Tudor manor at 225 Bay State Road in the Back Bay, with many of the ornamental and architectural elements he admired from his travels in England. With a touch of the gothic, he had a secret door in his bedroom leading to a third-floor study where he wrote poetry, plays, and historical romances. A theatrical designer who staged one of his plays described him as “by occupation a millionaire, by inclination a successor of minstrels in Provence.” He also generously supported young artists, actors and musicians. As war approached, he sponsored the Harvard University volunteer ambulance unit in France for a three-month period in 1915.

As an initial memorial to their musical daughter Leslie, in 1916 the Lindseys bought a famous English collection of 560 musical instruments dating from 1460 to about 1850. William Lindsey bequeathed it, along with an endowment for its care, to the Museum of Fine Arts, where it remains the core of the musical instrument collection.

As the construction of Lindsey Chapel progressed, William Lindsey became seriously ill. Fifty years later, his younger daughter Dorothy remembered him sitting on the sidewalk outside, watching its construction and grieving that he would not see his daughter’s memorial finished. He died in 1922, two years before the chapel’s completion in 1924. Three years later his widow Anne sold the Tudor manor to Boston University, where it became known as “The Castle” and for many years housed the university president’s office. Today it is used for university ceremonies and gatherings.

Subsequent History

On a Sunday afternoon forty years later, November 22, 1964, the chapel’s chancel was damaged by a set fire. The probable arsonist later admitted to setting fires in eleven cities, and said he “didn’t know” why he set the fires. After extensive repairs to the organ, the pulpit and choir stalls, and the columns on either side of the chancel arch, the chapel was reopened on September 25, 1966. More recently, extensive repairs to the chapel roof, copper flashing and downspouts were made in 1999.

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