Finger Lakes Art Council: Willard Chapel, a new center for the arts | Lifestyles

Beth Miller special for the citizen

What most of us call “the Willard Chapel” are actually two adjacent buildings: the Willard Memorial Chapel and the Welch Memorial Building, which, according to the chapel’s website, are the only remaining structures of what was once. Auburn Theological Seminary. The chapel recently reopened for tours, after being closed for an extended period due to COVID-19. The historic building has also taken on a new role as a small but important arts center. Two new arts-focused businesses have recently moved in.

Sew what! is a small non-profit initiative whose mission is to “put objects that can be used in a constructive and creative way back into circulation, to promote education in needlework and to provide a community space where all individuals can come together. to put their skills into practice ”.

Ann Padlick, the treasurer, said the response to the business had been “phenomenal”. It accepts donations of clean fabrics and other sewing related items in good condition. For more information, call (315) 704-4180. Sew what! is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

Artistic Impressions is a retail gallery-boutique and workshop owned by artist Sandra Shutter and her partner, Restoration Carpenter Bill Clark. Shutter described their business as an “oasis of creativity, fun and calm”. Artistic Impressions occupies the space of the Willard Chapel once used by the Friends of Hospice Thrift Shop, which has had to close due to the pandemic. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. More information and photographs of the store’s products can be found on its Facebook page.

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Kathleen Walker, executive director of the chapel, also made a space available to the Finger Lakes Art Council. After having to meet on Zoom during the recent pandemic, we started having our monthly board meetings there. We were also able to present “Business Planning for Creatives” in the community room in partnership with the Auburn Chapter of SCORE, and we are planning future workshops and events.

We recently acquired a collection of historic wooden figures which were donated to the Arts Council by the Auburn Enlarged City School District. These life-size interpretations of 16 historical figures are currently preserved with fresh paint and polyurethane, and we hope to display them at various events and celebrations or private events throughout the community. They are displayed in the corridors of the chapel.

The Willard Memorial Chapel and the Welch Memorial Building are both designated National Historic Monuments. The building houses stained glass windows, ornate chandeliers and beautiful mosaics. These characteristics attract tourists from all over the world, especially those interested in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. According to historical records, the Willard Chapel is “the only complete, unaltered, totally Tiffany-designed religious interior known to exist in the world.”

In the early 1990s, the priceless contents of the Willard Memorial Chapel were all but dismantled and sold. Recognizing the enormous loss that would have been suffered by our region, members of the Community Preservation Committee have led efforts to ensure that the chapel remains intact while beginning its emergence as a local attraction and center of cultural resources that ‘she has become.

At the Finger Lakes Art Council, we would like to express our thanks to the Executive Director of the Community Preservation Committee, Kathleen Walker, for her important role in promoting the arts, and we invite the community to visit the chapel building for tours and see the wooden figurines and the artwork and sewing supplies available for sale.

Beth Miller is a member of the board of directors of the Finger Lakes Art Council. For more information, visit

Norma D. Ross