Special Collection Treasures
Published on August 25, 2016 by Becky Hyde
Early phote of Reid Chapel

Reid Chapel was to be the center for religious education when the new Homewood campus of Howard College was erected.

In 1952, Howard College President, Major Harwell Davis, wrote to the college's Board of Trustees on the emergency situation that was developing at Howard. The school was rapidly outgrowing the space available at the Eastlake campus. In order to continue serving students and expand into the role as a state-wide contender rather than a local Birmingham college, more space and funds were imperative.

Steele being place on top of Reid Chapel

Caption: Steeple under construction, 1960

Howard College began classes at the new Homewood campus in 1957. By 1958, building plans for the new campus were well underway but the Building Committee ran into a dilemma. The Chapel, which was to be the main feature of the Religious Education Building, was judged by themselves and the Board of Trustees as being entirely too small. The original design of the chapel sat only three hundred people. After consulting with an architect, the committees felt confident they could increase capacity to seat eight hundred. This new plan was essential to continue the progress envisioned for the new campus. This increase in size also demanded an increase of funds, from $100,000 to $400,000. By the completion of its construction, the new Chapel cost $950,000.

Interior Reid Chapel

Caption: Students at Freshman Orientation August 31, 1971 in the 800 person capacity chapel

The chapel would be at the center of many activities at Howard after its completion on September 1st, 1960. Though it was the newest church in the area it was already distinguished by having the steeple modeled after the first Baptist church in America, built in Providence, Rhode Island in 1775. In addition to this historically inspired architecture, multi-colored glass with an antique finish was imported from Germany to finish off the impressive structure.

Print 1st Baptist church in American
Early evening view of Reid Chapel highlights the stained glass

Caption: Left image, 1st Baptist church in America; Right image, Reid Chapel

The chapel was dedicated November 15th, 1960 and was dubbed the A.H. Reid Chapel in honor of Dr. Avery Hamilton Reid.

Caption: Former Howard College president Harwell Davis, Honoree Dr. A.H. Reid, and current president Leslie Wright seated during the dedication of the A.H. Reid Chapel, 1960

Dr. Reid was a 1917 graduate of Howard College who went on to pastor at several Baptist churches around Alabama. He was President of the Alabama Sunday School Convention, and the Alabama representative on the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board. He was elected to the State Convention Executive Committee in 1932 when he was also granted a Doctor of Divinity degree by Howard College. In 1939 he raised $65,000 for Howard College in just a two month period. He served as Howard's vice president from 1940-1945, a time when he also served as president of the Alabama Baptist Convention. He left Howard in 1945 when he became Executive Secretary of the Alabama Baptist State Executive Board and Treasurer of the State Convention.

Reid Chapel is still an important part of Samford University. Services, convocations, speeches, concerts, lectures, and ceremonies – including weddings – are still held regularly at the chapel.