Saturday, August 18, 2012

sedona's mid-century modern: chapel of the holy cross

After leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove a few hours south to Sedona, Arizona. I had heard great things about Sedona for years:

"Sedona is so beautiful."
"The shopping in Sedona is great."
"Sedona is one of my favorite places."

Stuff like that. Honestly, our first impressions can be summed up pretty quickly: Sedona in August is HOT. Turns out, August is Sedona's hottest month. We kind of figured our trek across the desert was a little mistimed, but we had gotten boxed in by the price of plane tickets and our own lack of planning so we had high hopes for the coolest August on record. No luck.

Bell Rock Sedona
Albert and Alex hiking up to Bell Rock

rock formation sedona arizona
Alex and Albert with Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour (awesome) trip guide on top of a rock.
It is 8AM in the morning and BLAZING hot.
Even though the gift shops, art galleries and strip malls were filled with southwestern art and turquoise, I was still able to find a little corner of mid-century modern to share: Sedona's, Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Catholic chapel, constructed in 1957.

Sedona's Chapel of the Holy Cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was commissioned and designed by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude who is said to have gotten the inspiration for the chapel from the Empire State Building in New York City. She conferred with Frank Lloyd Wright's son on the design and had selected a location in Hungary, but was prevented from building there due to WWII. The design was eventually executed by the firm Anshen and Allen (famous for being contracted by Eichler to build California tract housing in the fifties).

Empire State Building NYC
Picture Compliments of ChurchofAncientWays

Sedona Chapel of the Holy Cross
Beautiful side view of the chapel shows how it was set into the Sedona rock.
I can kinda see the Empire State Building thing.
(courtesy of newdesktopwallpapers)

The Sedona Blog has a detailed history of the conception and building of the chapel. "April 1955 they broke ground on the Chapel. It took 18 months to build the Chapel and each of the 25,000 tons of rock removed was done so by hand. They didn't use any dynamite because they didn't want to disturb the area. So four men spent six weeks drilling a series of holes and would hand chip away each piece of rock. The cost to complete the structure was $300,000."

The interior sculptures of nails and the alter are all designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude.

Chapel of the Holy Cross
View of interior. Modest chapel, only seven benches on each side.

At the alter is the sculpture designed by Marguerite. It is made of nails.

Chapel of the Holy Cross Sedona AZ
Entrance to the chapel is quite mid-century. Very unassuming.
Curving benches wrap around the chapel.
There is some claim that the Chapel of the Holy Cross is home to one of Sedona's famous energy vortexes. What is a vortex? According to John and Micki's Metaphysical Site, "The vortexes in Sedona are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. The vortex energy is not exactly electricity or magnetism, although it does leave a slight measurable residual magnetism in the places where it is strongest."

Chapel of the Holy Cross Sedona AZ
The cross goes deep down into the rock. 

Related Southwest trip posts: Modern and Ancient Art in Las Vegas, Mid-Century Modern at the Grand Canyon .


  1. That entry is so FLW. He was always making his entries unassuming--possibly to make one more stunned at the awesomeness of his interiors. He was tricky that way.

  2. You are right on Donna. Very FLW, you walk up to this odd square structure and it has a stunning view of Sedona and the valley. It is a mid-century worth seeing!


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