Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stanford Memorial Church
Stanford, California

"Stanford Memorial Church (also known as MemChu) is located at the center of the Stanford University campus in Stanford, California, United States. It was built during the American Renaissance[1] by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband Leland. Designed by architect Charles A. Coolidge, a protegé of Henry Hobson Richardson, the church has been called "the University's architectural crown jewel".[2]

12 An interior view looking from high in the gallery, past two large arches which support the dome, and into the lofty semi-circular chancel. The building is of very large scale, and every part of the interior is covered with mosaic or carved decoration. In the chancel, a priest officiates for a bride and groom with eleven attendants.
                               A wedding ceremony  in the Chancel (Wikipedia)

"Designs for the church were submitted to Jane Stanford and the university trustees in 1898, and it was dedicated in 1903. The building is Romanesque in form and Byzantine in its details, inspired by churches in the region of Venice and, especially, Ravenna. Its stained glass windows and extensive mosaics are based on religious paintings the Stanfords admired in Europe. The church has four pipe organs, which allow musicians to produce many styles of organ music. Stanford Memorial Church has withstood two major earthquakes, in 1906 and 1989, and was extensively renovated after each.

This stained-glass window shows two angels carrying a small child up towards Christ seated on golden clouds in while a group of people below are watching.
                                           Christ welcoming a soul into Heaven,
                                   a reference to the death of Leland Stanford Jr.

"According to architectural historian Willis L. Hall, the church's 20 large stained glass windows "are as much a feature of the church as the mosaics". The windows, designed by Frederick Stymetz Lamb (1863–1928) and fabricated by J&R Lamb Studios, his father's firm in New York City, took three years to complete, and eight months to install at Stanford. Jane Stanford hired Lamb because she felt he was more interested in "the ecclesiastical rather than commercial aspect of the work". The installation of the windows at Stanford Memorial Church was the largest enterprise of its kind at the time, and the project is considered one of the best examples of Lamb's work. Stanford chose the life of Christ for the windows' theme, inspired by the religious paintings by European master painters...(See Link) 

"Stanford Memorial Church was the earliest and has been "among the most prominent" non-denominational churches on the West Coast of the United States.[3] Since its dedication in 1903, the church's goal has been to serve the spiritual needs of the university in a non-sectarian way. The church's first chaplain, David Charles Gardner, began a tradition of leadership which has guided the development of Stanford University's spiritual, ethical, and academic relation to religion. The church's chaplains were instrumental in the founding of Stanford's religious studies department, moving Stanford from a "completely secular university"at the middle of the century to "the renaissance of faith and learning at Stanford" in the late 1960s, when the study of religion at the university focused on social and ethical issues like race and the Vietnam War.

"Stanford Memorial Church has suffered two major earthquakes, in 1906 and in 1989. Although extensively damaged, the church was restored after each. The 1906 quake wrecked much of the church, felled the spire, cracked the walls, and "injured beyond repair" the mosaics and Carrara marble statuary in the chancel.

"The mosaic project (See photo directly above.) began in 1900 and took five years to complete.[7] Jane Stanford chose mosaics to decorate her church because of the similar weather in Italy and Northern California, where the moderate climates and rainy seasons in both settings protect the images from erosion and clear the pollution that accumulates on many buildings in large cities. As Hall states, the "mosaics on the facade are always clear and brilliant."[81] Their "shimmering quality" was created by different tones of green and gold;[71] the artists that installed the mosaics had over 20,000 shades of colors to choose from.[82] The images cost US$97,000,[8][note 8] and were based upon original watercolors created by artist Antonio Paoletti.[note 9] Jane Stanford worked closely with Paoletti, planning a combination of Old Testament and New Testament scenes that represented men and women equally." (See Link.)

Photos: Top and bottom photos taken in Stanford, California in 2009 by SW. (In the top photo the tree on the right with the lavender flowers is a Jacaranda.)

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