December 14, 2018

Photo Essay: A Midcentury Church for Googie Worshippers

When you think of Midcentury Modern architecture—or especially the futuristic style known as "Googie"—you probably wouldn't associate it with a church or any other house of worship.

But that's because you've never been to St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Redondo Beach, California.

Located just a 20-minute drive south of the ultimate Googie coffee shop, Pann's...

...St. Andrew's is also the work of master Googie architects Armet and Davis.

Though, having been built in 1958, it's a rather late entry in the firm's oeuvre.

By then, the architects had already tried their hands at ecclesiastical architecture, with St. Elisabeth's in Van Nuys (1950), the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro (1954), Our Savior Lutheran in Westchester (1955), and the New Trinity Lutheran Church in Norwalk (1955), among others.

They'd also dabbled in a few Christian schools and memorial parks. And they had been working with religious institutions since 1947.

Creation of Man

Better-associated with ecclesiastical architecture is Judson Studios, which provided the Midcentury-style stained glass windows.

The Psalms, The Prophets, The Birth of Christ

The project was overseen by Horace T. Judson—grandson of Judson Studios founder William Lees Judson and son of Walter Horace Judson). A former lawyer, he'd given up his practice to run the studio's day-to-day from 1934 until the 1970s.

The Birth of Christ

They're not, however, original to the opening of the church. And while the collection of stained glass is coherent thematically—"The Great Acts of God"—they weren't even installed all at once.

Creation of Man

From "The Creation of the World" to "The Calling of the Disciples" and "The Alpha and Omega," one or two windows would be added at a time, as funds became available, starting three years after the church held its first service. 

The Ten Commandments

The "Windows of Faith" are actually tryptics of three individual window units, each with its own sponsor. "The Burning Bush" is depicted alongside "The Passover" and "The Ten Commandments" (above), and so on.

The Sermon on the Mount

The saturated colors are meaningful here, with red representing passion, zeal, fire, and sacrifice. 

The Resurrection

Green represents hope and new or renewed life (as with the Resurrection, above)...

The Great Commission

...and purple, great suffering and the 40 days of Lent in reparation for Easter.  

The New Law

Although, in the end, I think all anybody is looking for is the color blue—a symbol of truth, constancy, faithfulness, eternity, and Heaven.  

Special thanks to St. Andrew's for sharing its stained glass historical archives for this post. 

Related Posts:
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A 12th Century Art Form Leaps Into the 21st Century
Photo Essay: Judson's Historic Glass Studio

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