12 Most Beautiful Churches in America
America's churches are just as intriguing as their European counterparts. And not just in grandeur: The stories behind these architectural masterpieces—located in some of our country's most popular vacation spots—are downright biblical.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Wayfarers Chapel, about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is the perfect combination of nature and architectural genius. Designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, the "tree chapel" was made to be a natural sanctuary encased in glass with views of the surrounding forest and the nearby Pacific Ocean. These are typical traits of Organic Architecture, which aims at using nature as the framework and regards the space inside as sacred. Wright also designed the surrounding Chapel Gardens, home to Redwood trees and roses that bloom all year round. Completed in 1951, the Wayfarers Chapel was built along the Palos Verdes peninsula so that travelers could rest and give thanks to God for the beauty around them. People of all religious backgrounds are welcomed to take advantage of the beautiful natural setting—evening weddings are celebrated inside the glass chapel lit only by candlelight.
The Cathedral of Saint Andrew
Located in Honolulu's historic district, the Cathedral of St. Andrew serves as a reminder of Hawaii's long Anglican (Episcopalian)-Hawaiian history. In 1861 the reigning royalty offered up a portion of their royal garden and Queen Emma herself later traveled to England to raise money and commission arches and limestone columns (the rest of the stones were quarried in Western Oahu). Hawaii's first Gothic vaulted Cathedral was finally completed in 1886 as a memorial to Queen Emma's husband, King Kamehameha IV. The colorful Great West window of the Cathedral was the largest hand-blown stained glass window ever built at the time. Queen Emma is also given credit for being the force behind St. Andrew's Priory School for Girls, which shares the property and doubled as Oxford College among other locations on the television show Lost—the stained glass windows of the Cathedral's Parke Chapel and the Gothic arches of Davies Hall are also featured in a number of episodes.
Visit: Services at the Cathedral are given in English and Hawaiian (see the schedule here). Visit on Sunday at 8 a.m. for a chance to see The Hawaiian Choir sing traditional hymns, or on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to hear The Cathedral Choir, which has been performing for almost 150 years. 229 Queen Emma Square, 808/524-2822, thecathedralofstandrew.org.