Hughes Auditorium History
One of the most significant traditions of Asbury University is that the entire campus community gathers together to worship corporately in chapel. Currently, chapel is held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning of the school year at 10 a.m. in Hughes Auditorium. Chapel at Asbury is unique in that it is the only time that the entire campus community comes together for any purpose. In chapel, the Asbury community sings, prays, and hears the Word of God proclaimed. Chapel attendance has been mandatory for the student body at Asbury since 1894.
As Asbury experienced rapid growth in the 1920’s, college president Lewis Akers called for the construction of new facilities, one of which was to be a new chapel auditorium. In 1928 Asbury’s founder, Dr. John Wesley Hughes, was invited to break ground for the new structure which would bear his name. In his mid-70s at the time, Hughes took an active interest in the construction of the building and visited the worksite almost daily.
Hughes Memorial Auditorium was dedicated during the commencement exercises in June 1929. It was a sign of great faith, as the 1,500-person capacity was double the enrollment of that time.
Some of the features of the beautiful interior of the auditorium are the stained glass windows and skylight (a gift from the class of 1929), an Austin pipe organ (a gift from Mrs. James Magee in 1929 which was rebuilt in 1975), and the words “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” emblazoned above the organ pipes above the platform. In 1989 the entire ceiling was replaced and air conditioning installed.
Hughes Auditorium has witnessed a number of unusually powerful spontaneous revivals throughout its history, the most famous of which began on February 3, 1970 and lasted for 144 uninterrupted hours. Hughes was used for commencement ceremonies through 1996. It remains a sacred and revered holy place for students, employees, and alumni of the Asbury community today.
Article written by Matt Kinnell
- “Hughes Auditorium: Asbury’s Cathedral,” by Gay Holcomb
- “A History of Asbury College Chronology,” by Dr. Edward H. McKinley