Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chapel of the Chimes

If you know how I've spent some of my days off and how much time I've spent learning about Oakland history in local cemeteries, you can probably guess my reaction when I was asked if I wanted a tour of Chapel of the Chimes. I knew a little about it: legendary Oakland architect Julia Morgan worked on it (but what parts?), some notable Oaklanders are interred there (but who?) and it had the first electric crematorium in the world (wait, what?). So I jumped at a chance to learn more.

It turns out Julia Morgan did a lot of work on the Chapel, even incorporating some items that had been at Hearst Castle. It's difficult to see what she worked on from outside, but if you're familiar with her style, you can quickly spot it while wandering the inside. Her work includes retractable skylights in several areas, though not all of them still function. (Note that the Julia Morgan Chapel within Chapel of the Chimes was not designed by her, but was renamed in her memory in 1995.)

I also learned more about some of the notable Oaklanders who are interred at Chapel of the Chimes:

What struck me this time through Chapel of the Chimes is how beautiful and peaceful it is. It's not so peaceful during some of their events like Jazz at the Chimes, but it's quite remarkable. And various spaces within Chapel of the Chimes are available for events other than funerals, too. Weddings have been held in the main chapel (which has a Wurlitzer organ), and of course you're free to wander around Chapel of the Chimes any time it's open.

All of this information will be more useful some time next year, as I'm planning a "Dead Tour" for Oakland Urban Paths. I'm still figuring out the details, but we'll probably start at the Chapel of Memories (which is owned and operated by Chapel of the Chimes), into part of St. Mary's Cemetery, down through Chapel of the Chimes, through the Home of Eternity, and around part of Mountain View Cemetery. And of course there are several historic and some still extant related businesses.

Lots more pictures from Chapel of the Chimes:

1 comment:

Monte said...

I was over there yesterday for a service. It'd been a's easy to forget how beautiful it is.