At Large  June 3, 2024  Carlota Gamboa

Lloyd Wright’s Historic Landmark Chapel Dismantled Due To Aggressive Landslide

Wikimedia Commons, Russ Allison Loar

Wayfarers Chapel, 2013. License

Frank Lloyd Wright Jr’s beloved Wayfarers Chapel is currently in the process of an emergency dismantlement. Due to unprecedented damage resulting from an atmospheric river storm system that hit Los Angeles County last February, the elaborate structure has begun sliding toward the ocean at seven inches per week. 

The dream project of devotees Elizabeth Schellenberg and Narcissa Cox Vanderlip has sat facing the coast off the The Palos Verdes Peninsula since 1951, but now the 73-year-old building— primarily made of glass panes, steel, stone, and redwood— must find alternate ground. 

Wikimedia Commons, Bruce Boehner

Wayfarers Chapel, 1999. License

“Everyone has cried,” said Katie Horak, who is part of the firm in charge of the chapel’s disassembly. “We’re in this profession because we love buildings like this. It’s the mourning of a sacred space,” she said, as per The Guardian. Dedicated to the conservation of heritage sites and building-shaped art, the Architectural Resources Group has been tasked with taking apart the space, which was named a National Historic Landmark less than a year ago. 

Predicated on the confluence of devotion by way of nature, the Wayfarers Chapel draws in around 500,000 people per year. The community cornerstone will now have to raise enough funds to be re-erected, and it is unknown how long it will be waiting in storage. 

Inspired by the fundraising done in lieu of the Notre Dame fire, community leaders have already raised $75,000 via their GoFundMe page. The congregation has saved up a total of $5 million from past wedding services, but architects estimate around a $20 million cost for reconstruction, while the dismantlement has already been half a million dollars.

Wikimedia Commons, Prashila Amatya

Wayfarers Chapel Plaza, 2018. License

However, not all hope is gone. With the help of local grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and private donations, there is a possibility that the Wayfarers Chapel can continue its life and legacy. 

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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