The beautiful ark-shaped Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel symbolizes the safe haven all children need. The chapel’s simple, soaring form evokes Noah’s ark of protection, as well as the small boat drawn by seven-year-old Maria Coté featured as part of our logo. The chapel is constructed of cypress siding with a fir roof deck and beams and seats 250 people inside. The back of the chapel has doors that open entirely to connect the chapel interior with the rear portico.
An open courtyard links the chapel’s main structure to a smaller concrete block building which houses an office, a meeting room, kitchen facilities, bathrooms and a chapel bell tower. This building, in 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 equipment and supplies are kept.
Building an interfaith chapel on the CDF Haley Farm grounds was Marian Wright Edelman’s dream from the start. The Riggio-Lynch Chapel was made possible by the generosity of Barnes & Noble CEO Leonard Riggio and his wife, Louise. After the events of Sept. 11, Mr. Riggio wanted to establish a place for people to find comfort, peace, strength and renewal.
The interfaith chapel is named in honor of Mr. Riggio and William (Bill) Lynch, former deputy mayor of New York City. Both long-time supporters of CDF, Mr. Riggio and the late Mr. Lynch each served on our Board of Directors. During the dedication service for the chapel on July 23, 2004, Mr. Riggio said, “In the ark design [is] a new metaphor for the 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.
Dozens of the nation’s greatest preachers have graced the pulpit of the Riggio-Lynch Chapel since 2004. The Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner served as the first Dean of the Chapel. The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. and the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III preach there each summer as CDF Proctor Institute Co-Pastors-in-Residence.
Haley Lodge is the main meeting space at Haley Farm. It was built in 1989 by Mr. Haley to accommodate the many guests he liked to entertain at the farm. The downstairs boasts a large meeting and dining area with large stone fireplace, a private dining room or boardroom, three bathrooms, a commercial kitchen and a comfortable sunroom known as the Comer Room dedicated in memory of Shirley A. Comer. A second room is dedicated in memory of Alice Keliher, an early childhood educator who bequeathed us a significant gift from her very limited means. Upstairs there are six bedrooms with private baths and one three-room suite.
The artwork in Haley Lodge includes original illustrations by Bryan Collier, Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner. The illustrations appear in the books Martin’s Big Words, written by Doreen Rappaport, and I’m Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children, written by Marian Wright Edelman.
The rocking chairs on the Lodge porch bear plaques inscribed with names, a tradition started by Mrs. Edelman. Some of the plaques are in memory of late Civil Rights figures and others known for their work for justice. Other plaques honor leaders, friends and others still living.
The Langston Hughes Library
The Langston Hughes Library is a private, non-circulating, 5,000-volume reference collection and reading room. Dedicated in 1999 in honor of one of America’s most important and prolific writers, the library is used by children’s advocates, spiritual leaders, educators, civil rights leaders, authors, illustrators, publishers, scholars, teachers, librarians and students who come to Haley Farm for training, leadership development, reflection and inspiration. The reading room is named after acclaimed poet and novelist Dr. Maya Angelou and renowned historian Dr. John Hope Franklin. A sitting area is dedicated to civil rights heroine Rosa Parks.
Through the generosity of Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio, and his wife, Louise, this cantilever barn was restored and recreated as a modern, comfortable, sky-lit reading room.
The library’s unique collection focuses on written works by African American authors, children’s picture books illustrated by African American illustrators, and books about the Black experience. The collection specializes in publications about children’s advocacy, spirituality, nonviolence, the Civil Rights Movement, with particular attention to the role of women, women’s leadership, African American history, literature, and culture, African culture and history and children’s literature. Special highlights of the collection are the hundreds of books that have been chosen as CDF Freedom Schools® books. These selections have been read by hundreds of children as participants in the CDF Freedom Schools program held in many cities across the country. Other highlights of the library collection include Children’s Defense Fund® publications, Federal government studies on child welfare, and signed first editions of books by renowned authors and illustrators.
The Langston Hughes Library plays host to important events, including:
- The Langston Hughes Library Roundtablebrought together authors, illustrators, librarians, scholars and publishers to discuss empowering children and youth through literature and the expansion of books presenting positive images of Black children
- The Langston Hughes Children’s Literature Festivalcelebrated the Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. The festival showcased Hughes’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction works for children through readings, visual arts, music and dance
- Each year, the Langston Hughes Library sponsors programs to inform the public with African American authors and their works. Middle school, high school and college students in the area visit the library for instruction in African American literature and to browse the collection housed in the library. Each February, the Langston Hughes Library participates in the national observance of the African American Read-In, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Other events at the library provide an open forum to nurture, teach and empower people to work on behalf of children.