Duncan Memorial Church, Randolph-Macon College Chapel, built in 1955
The congregation of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church meets at 201 Henry Street on the corner of Henry Street and College Avenue. The original church was organized in 1853. The present structure was originally two separate buildings joined by a breezeway. The church school building (built by the church) and the sanctuary (built by the college) were constructed simultaneously in 1955. At that time the sanctuary was primarily for college chapel and the education building primarily for Sunday school, though both communities used each others facilities. Eventually, the use as a student chapel faded. The primary use of the sanctuary became congregational worship.
In 1990 classroom and office spaces were added to the church school building. The two buildings were further joined by a colonnade, which created a courtyard garden and brought the physical structure to its present form.
Precedent for joint use by college and community goes back years. When the Methodist-related Randolph-Macon College moved from Boydton, Virginia, to Ashland in 1868, the church was meeting in Union Church along with members of other congregations, where the Masonic Lodge now stands on England Street. Subsequent space problems and a burned campus chapel united the church and the college around a need for a worship space.
The “Old Chapel” was built at the center of the college campus in 1879 and dedicated in memory of James Armstrong Duncan, the first Ashland president of the college. The college used the lower floor as its chapel. The congregation met on the second floor until the 1955 move across the street to the current location. (See also the Randolph-Macon College page about the history and current use of the “Old Chapel“.)
(Above from text by Van Shamburger in: Ashland, Virginia, 150 Years, 1858-2008, Ashland Sesquicentennial Committee, 2009, p. 25-26)
Duncan Memorial Church Old Chapel, built in 1879, as it looks today
An undated historic image of the Old Chapel of Duncan Memorial Church on Randolph-Macon College campus