4.4
36 votes

Wayfarers Chapel

5755 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, California 90275 USA

Free
Free to Visit
Closed Now
Opens Mon 9a
  • Independent
  • Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • Public
    Restrooms

“A spectacular Lloyd Wright Church”

"When you picture a church, you probably imagine something dark and Gothic-looking, maybe with flying buttresses and stained glass. It's hard to imagine a church like that in California, though... this Rancho Palos Verdes chapel is more their style. Its liberal use of glass, modern design, and location right on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, all make it one of the most perfect chapels in the country. Even the name, the Wayfarers Chapel, has a certain wistful charm to it. It's a textbook example of organic architecture, which is inspired by and blends in with the natural surroundings of the building-- you can see that the trees, painstakingly planned and planted around the chapel, form living walls and roofs, and can be observed through the many windows. Given the chapel's design and style, it should come as no surprise that it was imagined and built by Lloyd Wright, son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the pioneer and master of organic architecture. And it's not just the building-- even the gardens and grounds, which are filled with plants native to California, are perfect. It all makes sense given that Wright drew inspiration from the state's stunning redwood forests. As the story goes, he was traveling through Northern California shortly after World War II, and stopped at a little restaurant deep in the woods. As he ate, he looked up, and realized that he was in a cathedral of majestic trees. As Wright so eloquently puts it, "In earlier days all over the face of the earth there were chapels in glades and the woods which were meeting places for the priests and the people. The Chapel was to be a place for people to meet, and think, and contemplate the forces of nature and God Almighty. The setting of this Chapel is to receive people, the wayfarers.”  Finding the church familiar, but can't seem to put your finger on it? It was featured multiple times, for weddings and funerals, in Fox's soapy teen drama, The O.C. and it can be seen in other film and TV productions as well. But don't let its popularity with Hollywood make you think that it's anything but a beautiful spot to do some meditating. Whether you're reflecting on the death of Caleb from The O.C. or you're doing some actual soul-searching, the chapel is the most breathtaking place to do it." -Roadtrippers Chapel Architect Lloyd Wright, son of the pioneering American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, conceived the design of Wayfarers Chapel as a “tree chapel”, a natural sanctuary set in the midst of a forest. “I wanted particularly to allow those trees and those trunks to be seen and the space beyond and into infinity to be observed, so those who sat in the sanctuary would perceive the grandeur of space out beyond and around them.” Lloyd Wright’s design is one of the foremost examples of Organic Architecture. One of its underlying principles of organic architecture is that the trees are the forms and the space within the forms is sacred space. “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.” Lloyd Wright’s inspiration came on a trip through the redwood forests of northern California shortly following the end of World War II. He stopped at a little restaurant surrounded by trees. During lunch he looked up through a skylight and saw the magnificent redwoods rising up on the sides and branches arching overhead like a great natural cathedral. So impressed with the sight he vowed that if he ever received a commission for a church this would be his inspiration. Wayfarers Chapel is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

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Reviewed by
Chris Spinney Long

  • Tour Guide
  • 173 Reviews
  • 198 Helpful
July 10, 2014

As seen in "The OC" "Sliders" and "90210"

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
CarlosWay

  • 6 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
February 24, 2016
Rated 5.0

One of the best churches I ever seen.

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Wayfarers Chapel

5755 Palos Verdes Dr S
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
90275 USA

Hours

Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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  • Independent
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Private Parking
  • Yes Parking

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