Then president of Washington and Lee Henry Louis Smith provides his opinions on Lee Chapel in an issue of Sons of the Revolution Quarterly magazine. Words used with negative connotation are highlighted in yellow.
Here, both Francis Adams and Mary Lee state that the building is due for renovation as it is simply too ugly.
Lee Chapel was constructed in 1867, which was during the Reconstruction of the South, a time of economic recession.
The size of the building is the primary issue at hand.
The size of the student body quickly outgrew the capacity of Lee Chapel. President Henry Louis Smith's logic makes sense: President Lee requested that Lee Chapel be constructed to replace the old chapel that was too small for the student body; therefore, President Smith wants the same. Currently, Lee Chapel can hold one class at a time, which is about 450 students. The maximum capacity of Lee Chapel is 625 people, henceforth, events at Lee Chapel that encompass more than one student body are held directly in front of the chapel as opposed to within the chapel.
Although this is President Smith's satirical critique of "Lee idolaters," this statement shows the exact need for a change in Lee Chapel. While Lee was alive, this building served as his office. After his death, the building lost one of its functions which called into question whether or not the building should be renovated.
To highlight the exact change in function of Lee Chapel, President Smith states three characteristics of Lee Chapel: 1. The building served as an office. 2. The building was a chapel. 3. The building became a tomb.
The significance of Lee Chapel within Washington and Lee University grew because Lee Chapel morphed into a tomb that not only became a "holy" building on campus, but also within American history.
President Smith states that renovating Lee Chapel does not disrespect the "South's most sacred shrine" because it is Lee's tomb that is the sacred shrine, not Lee's chapel. The plans are to renovate Lee's chapel, not Lee's tomb, which unfortunately happens to be in the same building as Lee's tomb. This statement shows the unclear distinction between the original purpose of the building versus the developing purpose of the building through passage of time.