Wayfarers Chapel

...a glass chapel overlooking
the Pacific Ocean

Wayfarers Chapel... an absolute perfect wedding location for any bride and groom, designed to overlook the Pacific Ocean and sit against the hills above Portguese Bend engulfed by towering redwoods. 

For those looking for garden wedding locations and just minutes from San Pedro, Wayfarers Chapel gives you the best of both worlds.

This unique church is almost entirely made of glass and the redwoods have become its walls, the use of Palos Verdes stone adding the final touch!

Even though the ceremony is inside, the feel of outdoors comes through the glass ceilings, which is why it is often referred to as the "Glass Church". 

These photos were taken at the time my sister got married at this church in 1973. It was an enchanting ceremony, held in the evening hours, and provided an intimate wedding location that we still remember today.

It was the feeling of being one with nature that
appealed to my sister at that time, and is what brings couples here today. 

Architect Lloyd Wright designed the chapel and was the son of the famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. As in the excerpt by Lloyd Wright himself, he speaks of the inspiration that came from visiting the Redwoods in Northern California and wanting to blend architecture of the chapel to become one with the redwoods surrounding it.

Lloyd Wright spoke of his design this way--

“When the trees that surround the Chapel grow up, they will become the framework, become a part of the tree forms and branches that inevitably arise from the growing trees adjacent to it. I used the glass so that the natural growth, the sky, and sea beyond became the definition of their environment. This is done to give the congregation protection in services and at the same time to create the sense of outer as well as inner space.”

The story behind Wayfarers Chapel...

Wayfarers Chapel was built in 1951 in honor of Emanuel Swedenborg and was sponsored by the Swedenborgian Church. The church was designed by Lloyd Wright who conceived the design as a "tree chapel". 

A member of that church, Elizabeth Schellenberg, who lived on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the 1920's, had a dream of a church being placed here.

She envisioned a little chapel on a hillside above the Pacific Ocean where wayfarers could stop to rest, meditate and give thanks to God for the wonder and beauty of creation. Hence, the name, Wayfarers Chapel.

Narcissa Cox Vanderlip, also a member of the Swedenborgian Church, shared her vision and brought Elizabeth's dreams to life with the donation of the 3.5 acres of land that it now sits. 

(The Vanderlips' owned most of the Palos Verdes Peninsula at one time, when the peninsula was mainly farmland).

The developing of plans were delayed by the Depression in the 1930s and by World War II, the dedication of the 3.5 acre site and the cornerstone not taking place until July 16, 1949. 

Rev. Dr. Leonard I. Tafel of Philadelphia, then president of the national Swedenborgian denomination, presided over the dedication.

My Family's Connection
with this Church

My mother is Swedish, and having immigrated here in 1948, naturally felt a strong connection to this chapel. Aside from its beauty, she was so proud of the Swedish story behind this church, and had always hoped one of her three daughters would get married here.

As you can see, those hopes came to pass when my sister chose this as the location for her wedding ceremony. There was a very long waiting line, which is also true today, so I was not as lucky.

Recently, my mom was looking for old clippings I could use on my site and found one of the church in its beginning stages. It shows a small little chapel out in the middle of nowhere overlooking the Pacific Ocean with nothing else around. The clippings on this page are those that she has saved all these years, including a Swedenborgian brochure from the 1960's.

It is hard to believe it is the same place, because now the chapel is surrounded by huge redwoods that are cradling the sanctuary, creating a picture even Lloyd Wright may not have imagined.

This is one of the most unique wedding locations in Southern California and books up quickly, so it is best to reserve a time months or more in advance. 

For more information on Wayfarers Chapel and their wedding services, click here. A new window will open.

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