Ezra Cornell founded his university as a nonsectarian institution, a decision that drew outrage and criticism. Yet the university is not, as critics suggested at the time, a "godless place." Instead, it is a place where people of many faiths come together. There are three Jewish congregations--reformed, conservative, and orthodox--on campus, as well as dozens of Christian communities and Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha'i, and pagan groups.
Erected in 1873, Sage Chapel reflects the aesthetic sensibilities of trustee Henry Sage, benefactor of Sage College, the university's first women's dormitory. The chapel was designed by Charles Babcock, Cornell's first professor of architecture. Murals adorn the ceiling, while elaborate brickwork, stained glass windows, and mosaics decorate the walls.
With seating for 800, the chapel is the site of ecumenical services on Sundays, as well as concerts, weddings, and funerals.