California’s first licensed female architect and a Frank Lloyd Wright Protégé helped design this Moorish-Gothic columbarium.

The land where Oakland’s lovely Chapel of the Chimes now stands was originally the site of a trolley car station delivering people to the gates of Mountain View Cemetery. The California Crematorium Association purchased the old station in 1902 and turned it into a chapel for funeral services. The original chapel of the columbarium still has train schedules on the wall.

Chapel of the Chimes is located on land that was originally the site of a trolley car station that delivered people to the gates of Mountain View Cemetery. In fact, you can still find the original trolley schedule on the wall inside the original chapel of the columbarium.

When architect Julia Morgan took on the redesign and expansion of the modest, turn-of-the-century columbarium on the hill at the end of Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, she brought with her a small army of local artisans, architectural treasures from Europe, and her trademark eclectic vision.

When architect Julia Morgan redesigned and expanded the modest, turn-of-the-century columbarium, she brought with her a small army of local artisans and her trademark eclectic vision.

The “chimes” are a carillon, installed in the building’s tower, which were repaired in 2008 after many years of disuse.

The name Chapel of the Chimes is used to reflect a place of peace and tranquility, a building of light rather than of darkness and death. The actual “chimes” were repaired in 2008 after many years of disuse.

Using the talents of architects Cunningham and Politeo, the Association built the first crematory on the east side of San Francisco Bay in 1909 and then added a columbarium.

Julia Morgan was California’s first licensed female architect, educated at University of California at Berkeley and L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before settling in the Bay Area.

Don't be afraid, come on in.

In the 1920s, Julia Morgan was hired to design the magnificent Moorish Gothic addition, which includes gardens, alcoves, cloisters, fountains, and chapels.

In the 1920s, she was hired to design the magnificent Moorish Gothic addition, which includes chapels, alcoves, cloisters, fountains, and gardens.

She sent her artist and assistant Doris Day to Europe in search of antiquities to embellish her vision, and brought in local experts in concrete construction, mosaic work and stained glass to bring it to life.

Her assistant Doris Day was sent to Europe in search of antiquities to bring her vision to life.

A calming silence envelops visitors after entering the space. In spite of the fact that 190,000+ urns (and even some caskets) are housed within, you'll rarely run into another (living) soul while exploring the interior gardens, cloister walks, alcoves, fountains and chapels inside.

Even though 190,000+ souls are housed within, a calming silence envelops visitors after entering the space.

At Chapel of the Chimes, the niches are property sold in perpetuity to one member of a family, who can will space to only one subsequent family member. The niches are not family-owned. The standard-sized niche holds the remains of two people.

Niches are property sold in perpetuity to one member of a family, who can will space to only one subsequent family member.

Gorgeous stained glass windows abound and set the impressive urn rooms alight with brilliant color.

Beautiful stained glass windows can be found throughout the rooms which are all connected through a series of passages and stairwells.

I guess 'Garden of Infidelity' wouldn't work here.

I guess ‘Garden of Infidelity’ wouldn’t work here.

As you enter the Chapel of the Chimes through its ornate Gothic walkway, you pass a deMedici marble table, purchased by Morgan. Beyond that stands the Bible Cloister, where antique bibles are displayed beneath calligraphed verses.

Thousands of tiny niches filled with urns, many shaped like books, surrounding gardens and quiet patio-like rooms, give the impression of a vast, light-filled library.

Thousands of tiny niches filled with urns, many shaped like books, surrounding gardens and quiet patio-like rooms, give the impression of a vast, light-filled library. Chapel of the Chimes boasts the installment and use of the world’s first electric crematorium.

Some of the rooms give the impression of being in a greenhouse, as lush foliage burgeons between the urn columns.

A greenhouse for the dead.

In the past, the gardens had their own flock of caged birds and fish swam in the ponds.

In the past, the gardens included caged birds and fish swimming in ponds.

 “Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.” --- Julia Morgan

“Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.” — Julia Morgan

Light pours in through skylights that crank open to admit fresh air.

Light pours in through skylights that crank open to admit fresh air.

In 1959, Aaron Green (a student of Frank Lloyd Wright) added the mausoleum behind the columbarium, allowing for full body interment.

In 1959, a mausoleum behind the columbarium was added to allow for full body interment.

Chapel of the Chimes was the first space in the world to be both columbarium and mausoleum.

It was the first space in the world to be both columbarium and mausoleum.

Your gonna need it if you have limited time or easily get lost.

Your gonna need it if you have limited time or easily get lost.

It is known to be the one of the largest above-ground columbariums in the United States.

Chapel of the Chimes is one of the largest above-ground columbariums in the United States.

The most famous resident of the Chapel of the Chimes is bluesman John Lee Hooker, King of the Boogie.

John Lee Hooker, King of the Boogie is probably the most famous resident of the Chapel of the Chimes.

Julia Morgan designed more than 700 buildings during her long career and is buried next door at Mountain View Cemetery. RIP Julia (1872-1957).

Julia Morgan designed more than 700 buildings during her long career and is buried next door at Mountain View Cemetery. RIP Julia (1872-1957).

 

Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, California 94611
Open: Daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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