Chapel of the Chimes Columbarium

When Julia Morgan designed the Chapel of the Chimes columbarium in Oakland, California, she must have had in mind the verse from John 14:2: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” The building is composed of a multitude of intimate rooms, connected by passages and stairways like the leaves of a tree. If the rooms are leaves, the branches and trunk are the atriums, each containing a small garden and awash with light from a glass roof. Stained glass created by Marian Simpson punctuates the design.

Looking back toward the entrance.
Stained Glass window reflection_MG_3573
Reflection of a Stained Glass Window.
Chapel of the Chimes doorways_MG_3550
Arched corridors connect many intimate rooms to a central atrium and garden.
Chapel of the Chimes Stain Glass roof reflected_MG_3552
Remains are placed in glass-front “book shelves”. Here is seen the reflection of stained glass trim on the skylight.
stained glass ceiling_MG_3596
An elaborate stained glass ceiling highlights one of the rooms.
Stairs and Chambers_MG_3562CB composite
The building is on the side of a hill resulting in corridors of stairs.

A newer addition designed by Frank Loyd Wright’s firm is of a more modern, open design, while remaining harmonious with Morgan’s original expression, if not her intent.

Sharp Shadows 2_MG_3582
The sun breaks through the clouds creating shadows that add a dramatic touch to already spectacular architecture.
Sidelit stairs_MG_3587
Sun coming through the glass ceiling of an atrium adds a moody touch to the transition between the half of the building designed by Julia Morgan and the more modern addition.

Note: Out of respect for the families of people interred at the Chapel of the Chimes, I have made some of the names unreadable. Photography in the chapel must always be done with deference to families who are mourning or remembering loved-ones.



      1. I lived near Piedmont in Berkeley, and then remembered the cemetary just the other side of Broadway in Oakland. A bit of sleuthing on Google Maps and voila, I know exactly where it is 🙂 Sorry I never ventured in! Next visit.

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