The Building

alice millar

A House of Prayer for All People

A large bustling university, crammed full of competing interests for the student’s time and attention, should have one facility which is apart from all others, a place where the soul may find quiet and repose—may be stimulated—or may just meditate.  One’s character and personality cannot be fully developed unless his (or her) soul finds a purpose.

Foster McGaw,at the Service of Dedication, Alice S. Millar Religious Center

The Center and its Chapel do not encourage retreat.  They offer not an escape from life…but a new approach to life.

J. Roscoe Miller
University President,  Service of Dedication

The Alice Millar Chapel and Religious Center

Alice Millar Chapel PlaqueThe Alice Millar Chapel and Religious Center was a gift to Northwestern University of Mr. and Mrs. Foster G. McGaw.  Mrs. McGaw was a graduate of Northwestern, and Mr. McGaw served for many years as a Trustee of the university.  The bronze tablet in the narthex says of Alice Millar:

This Chapel and Religious Center, the gift to Northwestern University Mr. and Mrs. Foster G. McGaw, is dedicated to the loving memory of the late Alice S. Millar McGaw, the mother of Foster G. McGaw

The Building

The building houses two chapels: the Millar Chapel with 700 seats was named for Foster G. McGaw's mother and the Vail Chapel with 125 seats was named for Jeanne Vail, Mary Vail McGaw's daughter. The building is situated on land donated by Dr. William Parkes, an Evanston physician and former Northwestern trustee.  An adjacent building, Parkes Hall, housing classrooms and the chaplain's office, completes the complex. The building also hosts other University functions such as concerts, lectures and recitals.

Vail ChapelAlice Millar Chapel

Alice Millar

Alice MillarAlice Millar was born on January 28, 1859, in Alnwick, England.   Her love of music stimulated her to study piano in England, France and Germany.  The photograph was taken as she appeared when she performed before Queen Victoria.  After moving to the United States with her father, a Doctor of Medicine, Alice Millar met and Married to the Reverend Francis A. McGaw at McCormick Theological Seminary on September 20, 1888.

The Four children born into their family, Agatha, Lilia, Frances and Foster, were present for the Dedicatory Service.

Throughout the remainder of her life she supported her husband faithfully in his work as a minister of the Presbyterian Church.

Alice Millar McGaw died on May 21, 1910 in the Augustana hospital in Chicago.  Her great devotion to her family and to her church serve as an inspiration to succeeding generations.

The impact of her selflessness and her great musical art so generously shared is still alive in the hearts of those who knew her.

Jeanne Vail

jeanne-vailDaughter of Mrs. Foster McGaw, was born in Evanston on November 12, 1925.  During her school days in Evanston she was active with the Children's Theatre and the High School Choir.  Jeanne was a brilliant student and an accomplished pianist, and at Denison University, where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.  She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her Junior year and was graduated, cum laude, in 1946.

Upon graduation she married Lewis Chamberlin, Jr., and to them a daughter, Nancy Carol, was born in 1949.  Three months later this lovely young mother died of polio.