New Columbarium built in Story Chapel

January 1, 2015

In 1941 a new columbarium was built in the basement of Story Chapel.  The design by Architect John Radford Abbott offered “a dignified and attractive resting place for cremated remains.” (Annual Report, 1941).  The first three alcoves constructed consisted of 314 niches.  In 1947 glass-fronted niches were added to Alcove C.  By 1952 Alcove D was nearly sold and Alcove E was completed, both hold 2 – 3 urns and have a bronze cover.  Alcove F followed in 1959, with nearly one-half with glass fronts.  As cremations continued to rise in popularity the columbarium was expanded in 1977 creating alcoves G, fitted with bronze single and double niches, and H with glass-fronted niches.  Additional niches were added to Alcove H in 1997 and 2001.  Finally, in 2011 another wall of glass-fronted niches was added, Alcove I.


Notable Figures inurned in Story Chapel Columbarium include:

Felix Frankfurter (1882 – 1965)
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

John Ciardi (1916 – 1986)
Poet, Translator, Etymologist

Brian Marsden (1937 – 2010)
Astronomer, director of  Minor Planet Center at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Maribel Vinson-Owen (1911 – 1961)
Laurence Richon Owen (1944 – 1961)
Maribel Y. Owen (1940 – 1961)
Champion Figure Skaters

Reinhold Rudenberg (1883 – 1961)
Electrical Engineer, Inventor of Electron Microscope

Sumner Huber Slichter (1892 – 1959)
Labor economist, Harvard professor


About the Author: Jessica Bussmann

Director of Education & Visitor Services View all posts by Jessica Bussmann →


  1. Sharon Hawkins says:

    Is the Story Chapel ever open to the public to view these niches? I would love to be able to visit and perhaps take some pictures of other notables interred there for my research.
    Thank you,
    Sharon Hawkins

    • Jessica Bussmann says:

      Hi Sharon,
      The Columbarium is only open to those who are visiting a loved one. If this is for a research or genealogy project though please get in touch with our Historical Collections staff for assistance:

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