University of Pittsburgh
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History

The Heinz Legacy

H. J. HeinzThe Heinz Memorial Chapel began as a gift. Henry John Heinz, the founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, wanted to honor his mother, Anna Margaretta Heinz, with “a building” at the University.

Mr. Heinz, who died in 1919, arranged to do that in his will. Mr. Heinz’s three surviving children added to his bequest to memorialize their grandmother and honor their father. The children were guided in their choice of a memorial by the concepts of education and religion, concepts with which Anna Margaretta Heinz imbued her children.

Ground was broken for the chapel in 1933, the cornerstone was laid in 1934, and the building was dedicated in 1938. At the chapel’s dedication, Howard Heinz spoke for his family when he said of the chapel:

“It is located in a community where my father was born and lived his life. It is on the campus of a university. As part of that university, it is dedicated to culture, an understanding response to beauty, and religious worship.”

Chapel Services and Events

Various religious services are held in the chapel, but it does not belong to any denomination. From its beginnings, the chapel was intended to be interdenominational.The chapel is open daily throughout the year except for University holidays, and hosts approximately 1,000 events annually. More than 100,000 people participate in religious services, weddings, concerts, classes, memorial services, and guided tours. Many simply seek its peace and beauty as a refuge.

Heinz Chapel GroundbreakingSince the chapel’s dedication in 1938, the Heinz family and their philanthropies have generously provided ongoing financial support. Grants from the Vira I. Heinz and Howard Heinz Endowments and capital funds from the University of Pittsburgh funded the 1996 addition to the chapel’s north side. The addition houses an elevator designed to make the chapel completely accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Groundbreaking:(left to right) W.F. Trimble, 
John Bowman, H.J. Heinz II, Howard Heinz, 
Clifford Heinz, C. Ridinger, and John Weber

 

A Timeless Tradition

Construction 1934Construction, 1934

When the cornerstone of the chapel was laid in 1934, University Chancellor John Bowman said, “The Chapel is designed as a fitting center for worship which in various ways will rise at the University. The character, intensity, the level of that worship may change from generation to generation. The spiritual tide in men rises and falls. Through these changes, though, the Chapel will stand, calm and undisturbed.”

The chapel has stood for more than half a century. The times have changed and, in some measure, changed back. Through it all, the chapel has fulfilled its mission as a vital part of the University of Pittsburgh and the community. By its presence, it teaches that which cannot be measured or analyzed.

More Information

A free pamphlet about the history of Heinz Chapel is available from the Heinz Chapel office.

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