March 09, 2023

Photo Essay: All Saints Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills

I've visited churches of many different faiths all over Southern California—and even in Las Vegas—but somehow in the 12 years that I've lived in Beverly Hills, I'd never stepped foot inside any of the three historic churches that line Santa Monica Boulevard right in the center of town. 

This past Presidents' Day, I decided to maximize my day off and not only visit all three of those churches—but do so by attending the annual Presidents' Day Organ Festival, hosted by Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society (which I'd been wanting to do for several years but could never muster the energy nor the time to make it there).

The second—and, actually, the fourth—church on the day's program was All Saints' Episcopal Church, located on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Camden Drive. 

I'm sure I'd walked past it before, and I'd definitely driven past it. I'd even seen it in the movie 10 (where Dudley Moore crashes his car outside of the church where Bo Derek is getting married, for you movie fans out there).

But it never occurred to me that there'd be anything to see around the corner—or even inside.
As it turned out, All Saints was my favorite of the three I visited that day (which also included the much more famous and renowned Church of the Good Shepherd, two blocks down)... artful touches with a modern flair coexist with more traditional, old-fashioned, and reverent architectural details and ornamentation by architect Roland E. Coate.

Other buildings were added around the original circa 1925 chapel (above, left)...

... creating a kind of compound, which today includes the Parish Hall...
...and a courtyard lined with stone benches, statuary, and greenery. 

There's a bronze bell for ringing outside the entrance to the main church (a.k.a. the "new" church building, built in 1951)...

...and an English-style donation box (or "poor box") that urges congregants to "Remember the Pore." 

Starting at the vestibule, I knew I'd found something special—even as I gazed up at the wrought-iron lighting fixture and caught a glimpse of my first leaded window.

Inside the main sanctuary, the beamed ceiling rises more than 20 feet above the pews...

...and is flanked by clerestory windows of stained glass, with circular chandeliers hanging steadfast and glowing even in daylight. 

It was a dramatic setting—not surprising for a high-drama city like Beverly Hills.

The day's concerts starred two different church organs—the Casavant Frères Ltée. (Opus 2051, 1951, above) and the Winfried Banzhauf (1992, a.k.a. "The Chamber Organ," below). 

We got to hear both of them played by organist Collin Boothby, who performed (thrillingly, I might say) the "Trumpet Tune" composed by All Saints' own organist and composer, Craig Phillips.

And later, when we returned to All Saints for our final stop of the day, we got to hear San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramirez perform his arrangement of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the Casavant organ (a.k.a. "The Great Organ").
Music is a big part of the ministry at All Saints—which means I should go back to hear some more—but I was equally enchanted by its stunning stained glass art.

Much of it appears to have come out of a studio bearing the signature "Connick Associates"—and records out of MIT show that at least the clerestory windows (way too high up for me to examine eye-to-eye) came out of the studio of Charles J. Connick, commissioned by Coates himself.

Some windows are dated 1953 and stamped with "MADE IN ENGLAND."

Each window is dedicated to the memory of someone who's passed (presumably in exchange for a generous donation)....

...and was meticulously hand-painted in the old style that dates back more than 500 years...

...all the way back to Medieval Europe...

...when phrases like "My soul doth magnify the Lord" were more commonplace than they are today.

Although these windows aren't nearly that old, they're showing their age... buckling a bit under their own weight... the lead came that holds the pieces of cut glass together is actually quite a soft material...

...and glass is heavy.

But to be honest, I love the undulations of a stained glass window that begins to sag.
I also love the colored beams of light that scatter forth from a leaded widow when the sunlight hits it just right. 

They never cease to draw me in. 
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this beautiful photo journalistic experience. All Saints is truly a magnificent church where music and light touch the soul.