Johnson Chapel is named for Adam Johnson of Pelham, whose $4,000 willed to the young college helped fund its construction.
Work was begun in 1826, and the chapel was dedicated February 28, 1827. A year later it was named Johnson
Chapel by the Board of Trustees of the College (King, 21).
As just the fourth College building, after
South College, the first President's House, and
North College, Johnson Chapel held not only a chapel, but also a museum, a library,
a laboratory, and recitation rooms.
Renovations were made to the building in 1863 as well as in the 1920s,
and in 1933, the orientation of the building was reversed with the addition of a forty foot section to what is
now the "front" of the building, facing east onto the Freshman Quad.
Johnson Chapel is perhaps the best-known of all of Amherst's buildings, standing at the center of College Row and
visible for miles around. While no longer used solely as a Chapel, the building serves a number of important
functions at Amherst, as a performance space, classroom, and site for all-campus events.