Saturday, April 4, 2015

Googie Church

Trinity Presbyterian Church
Trinity Presbyterian Church by Culver Heaton (1961). Photo ©Darren Bradley
After the Googie-style college campus from last week, I thought it would be appropriate to show a Googie-style church. The Trinity Presbyterian Church was designed in 1961 by Culver Heaton. 

I spotted this humongous A-frame perched up on top of a hill while I was driving past on the freeway. 


trinity church 4
There it is up on the hill, on the right. No, I wasn't shooting photos while driving on the freeway.
This photo is courtesy of Google street view. 
I took the next exit and turned around, trying to figure out how to get up to it - very excited that I'd stumbled upon some undiscovered hidden treasure. And then I arrived and realized that this was the same church I had photographed about ten years ago (no, you don't get to see those photos - they were terrible). But more importantly, my friend Steve Aldana had just visited and photographed this place, and written about on his blog, Esoteric Survey
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Steve's blog always has great stuff on it. And he updates it much more frequently than I do, mine. That's his photo of this place. 

Anyway, I couldn't leave without taking a few photos. Plus, I had to see the inside. So I went over to the office and met the Pastor. Rev. Randy Yenter was glad to open up the sanctuary to show me, and let me take photos. He was extremely kind and we had a nice chat. He's been leading that congregation for more than 30 years now. 




Trinity Presbyterian Church
The blue glass disks were hand-made in Belgium, and paid for individually by the families of the original congregants. I love the Googie-like pattern they form, and the colors they cast into the church. Blue glass clerestories on the sides also send blue light into the sanctuary. Photo ©Darren Bradley

The church was built before Rev. Yenter arrived, but I was surprised and impressed that he knew who the architect was (Culver Heaton), and also very much appreciated the design of the church. His one complaint was that it was difficult to cool in the summer and heat in the winter, due to rising electricity costs. 
trinity church 3
Close up detail of the colored glass disks that form the centerpiece of the church. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I hadn't heard of Heaton before, so I started doing a little research. There's not a lot out there about him. He founded his own practice in 1951 in Pasadena. He focused primarily on churches and banks, it would seem. Rev. Yenter said Heaton had designed at least 30 churches in Southern California. Apparently, they were mostly A-Frames, too. Here are a few photos of some of his other work:  


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Atlas Federal Savings & Loan in Pasadena, by Culver Heaton. Photo by Maynard Parker, courtesy of the Huntington Digital Library. 

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Masonic Temple in San Bernardino by Culver Heaton. Photo by Maynard Parker, courtesy of the Huntington Digital Library. 
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The interior of the Masonic Temple is pretty insane. Wonder if it's still there... Reminds me a bit of Frank Lloyd Wright's  V.C. Morris Gift Shop in San Francisco. Photo by Maynard Parker, courtesy of Huntington Digital Library. 
So back to this church in Spring Valley (East San Diego). I need to return because there were some details I didn't get (sun in the wrong position). So more photos later. If you're in the neighborhood, it's well worth stopping by. 
trinity church 5
Trinity Church. Photo ©Darren Bradley

6 comments:

Unknown said...

To be correct, he designed over 300 churches from 1951 to the late 1970's.

Unknown said...

Stunning ! I have just purchased a 1961 A Frame MCM Church in Far North Queensland. Architect Eddie Oribin. Also Presbyterian. Its been a realestate agent for the last 18 years. I am currently restoring it to it's former Mid Century glory.
Amazing coincidence I have come across this church being same style , same year, different part of the world!

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Darren Demers said...

Anyway, I couldn't leave without taking a few photos. Plus, I had to see the inside. So I went over to the office and met the Pastor. Rev. cover for razai , best towels at bed bath and beyond , Randy Yenter was glad to open up the sanctuary to show me, and let me take photos. He was extremely kind and we had a nice chat. He's been leading that congregation for more than 30 years now.

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