November 28, 2016, BY Matt Hughes

Rooke Chapel's stately steeple is getting a facelift.

Crews from Martech Associates began work in November on a $400,000 project to replace the Georgian Colonial church's belfry. The original wooden belfry has been subjected to water damage and rot in the half-century that has passed since the building's dedication in 1964, and will be replaced with a new all-aluminum belfry to increase its durability and longevity.

"We hope to preserve the beauty and dignity of this signature campus building for generations to come," said Brian Fritz, assistant director, building maintenance & projects for Bucknell Facilities, who is heading the restoration project.

Waning daylight shines through the belfry of Rooke Chapel, currently under repair. Photo by Erin Ditmar ’18

The new prefabricated belfry will be delivered in pieces and assembled on the ground in front of the chapel, and contractors will then use a crane to lift and install the new belfry. Assembly and installation is expected to begin in early December and wrap up by the end of the year, weather permitting. The existing spire, which is already made from aluminum panels, will remain in place and be repainted this spring prior to the 2017 Commencement ceremony.

Another view of the construction work. Photo by Erin Ditmar '18

The gift of the late Robert L. Rooke, an alumnus of the class of 1913 and a member of the Bucknell University Board of Trustees, Rooke Chapel is the setting for campus worship, weddings and celebrations. It houses a three-manual Reuter organ — one of the largest in central Pennsylvania — which acts as both a church organ and a concert instrument, as well as brushed steel chancel screens depicting Moses, Jesus and other Jewish and Christian symbols. The chapel can accommodate approximately 700 guests for worship, concerts and annual campus events such as the Christmas Candlelight Service and Baccalaureate Service.

An attached one-story wing also houses the Office of Religious Life, the University Chaplain's office, a meditation chapel and a kitchen. The chapel is named in memory of Robert L. Rooke's parents.