Historic California Chapel Being Dismantled Due To Shifting Land

Photo: Getty Images

The historic Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, will be disassembled this week due to unprecedented land movement. The 73-year-old structure, a National Historic Landmark, has been threatened by land shifts of about seven inches per week, a rate not seen in decades in the area.

The chapel's board of directors is considering about a dozen locations for potential reconstruction, per ABC 7.

"We are trying to figure out a way to acquire property that is stable in the area that has a similar view that we have here since the ocean view and the surroundings are a big part of what has made this jewel on the peninsula what it is," said Wayfarer Chapel Executive Director Daniel Burchett.

The chapel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., is known for its unique architecture and views of the Pacific Ocean. It has been a popular wedding destination and filming site for decades. The decision to dismantle the chapel was announced at a press conference on May 13. The first choice is to rebuild at the original site, but the ongoing land movement may render that impossible, Press Telegram reports.

The chapel's administrative office building was red-tagged by the city of Rancho Palos Verdes due to the land movement. The parking lot and walkways around the chapel have also suffered significant damage. Despite the extensive damage, the stone structure holding up the cross remains intact.

The disassembly process will prioritize the most delicate components of the chapel, including the redwood beams, steel mullions, and blue roof tiles. Each part will be labeled as it is removed to ensure accurate reconstruction. The components will be stored in a location that mimics the chapel's original conditions to maintain their integrity, per LAist.

Burchett expressed optimism that the chapel could reopen in about five years.