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Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel

The Riggio-Lynch Chapel was made possible by the generosity of Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio and his wife, Louise Riggio. After the events of September 11, 2001, Mr. Riggio felt the need to do something to establish a place for people to find comfort and peace and to be renewed and strengthened. Award-winning Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Maya Lin, who also designed the Langston Hughes Library at Haley Farm, designed the Riggio-Lynch Chapel as well. To our knowledge, Haley Farm is the only site in the country with two Maya Lin structures.

The interfaith chapel is named in honor of Leonard Riggio and William (Bill) Lynch, former Deputy Mayor of New York City. Mr. Riggio and Mr. Lynch are both former CDF Board members and long-time supporters of CDF. During the dedication service for the chapel on July 18, 2004, Mr. Riggio made the following statement: "In the ark design, Maya Linn has created a new metaphor for the Haley Farm Freedom Schools and a lasting symbol of our covenant to finish the unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement. The chapel is a place of safety and shelter for the hundreds of young people who come to Haley Farm each year to learn, worship, and train to become the next generation of leadership for children and families."

The chapel resembles a huge ark carrying all of the world's children to safety. The chapel's simple, soaring shape evokes the ark of protection, the fishermen's boats that figured in Jesus' ministry and the small boat drawn by seven-year-old Maria Coté featured in the Children's Defense Fund's logo. The chapel is constructed of cypress siding with a fir roof, deck and beams. An open courtyard links the Chapel's main structure to a smaller, concrete building, which houses an office wing, a meeting room and bell tower. This concrete block building, which is in such sharp contrast to the cypress exterior of the ark-like main building, was designed to resemble the type of building found in many shipyards where builders' equipment and supplies are kept.