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4 Amazing Examples of Church Architecture in California

Churches account for some of the greatest architectural wonders of the world. Many of the greatest examples of church architecture are found in Europe. However, California is the home of some great examples of church architecture as well.

Wayfarers Chapel

Along the coast of the Pacific Ocean is Wayfarers Chapel, also known as the glass church. This church was designed by Lloyd Wright who was the son of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Swedenborgian Church, who are the owners of the chapel, wished to build a memorial to their denominational founder, Emmanuel Swedenborg. A member of the church asked Mr. Wright to design a fitting structure.

Lloyd Wright based his design for the chapel on the redwood forests of California. He desired that the worshippers would feel as if they were experiencing God as part of nature. For this reason, Lloyd Wright built Wayfarers Chapel from glass with redwood beams used for support.

Surrounding the church are redwood trees that over the years have grown to create a canopy over the chapel Today, Wayfarers Chapel is used extensively for weddings and is listed by the National Registry of Historic Places.

Crystal Cathedral

The Crystal Cathedral is a well-known site to those in Southern California. This imposing glass structure, located in Garden Grove, was designed by the famous architect, Philip Johnson.

The Crystal Cathedral began with a vision of the church’s pastor, Robert Schuller. Rev. Schuller believed that he was to build a great church made out of glass.

In order to ensure that the church was safe in the case of earthquakes, Philip Johnson designed the church so that the panes of glass were not bolted to the steel supporting structure. Instead, Mr. Johnson glued the over 10,000 panes of glass on the supports.

The Crystal Cathedral is noted for its large organ, containing over 16,000 pipes, and for its 90 feet tall doors.

The Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco

The Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco is a noted example of the Arts and Crafts school of design. The church makes extensive use of raw materials such as the raw, tree trunks used to support the roof and the maple wood and tule rushes used to construct the sanctuary chairs.

The church’s interior is decorated by four murals painted by the artist William Keith. Mr. Keith depicted one of the four seasons in each mural.

The church was listed as an historic landmark by the US Department of the Interior in 2004.

Stanford Memorial Church

The Stanford Memorial Church, located on the campus of Stanford University, makes use of various architectural styles including Romanesque and Byzantine among others.

The church was designed by the architects Charles Coolidge and Clinton Day as an attempt to copy the cathedrals of Europe.

One of the church’s most noted features is the abundant use of stained glass windows depicting events in the New Testament. The church also makes extensive use of mosaics including a reproduction of Roselli’s Last Supper that is located inside the Sistine Chapel

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