Sedona – Reflections On Original Conception

Sculptors conceive, architects see, but nature has the final say …

feature image bw

In 1932, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, an Arizona rancher and sculptor saw the just-completed Empire State Building and had a vision for a church. Her first attempt to build it was in Europe where Frank Lloyd Wright would handle the project. WWII ended her project before it began but in 1956, she brought her vision home to Sedona…24 years after original conception. A San Francisco firm that made its mark designing filling stations after the War was hired for the project (a leap of faith?).

In 1957, the Chapel Of The Holy Cross, a masterpiece of mid-century modern was completed. Forty years later Arizonans designated it one of “Seven Man-Made Wonders Of Arizona” (behind every man-made wonder is a woman). One day the Chapel found itself in the arms of the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and the St John Vianney Parish in Sedona. There’s no daily or Sunday mass, nevertheless people are always in attendance.

Chapel Of The Holy Cross - front

walkway supports
The built environment emerges intentionally from the natural environment
bench on plaza
Like everything else the plaza and its bench are spawned from natural rock…
people on walkway
Wherever you stand there’s a feeling of being suspended…
view from inside chapel
The altar itself seems to be suspended…
The architecture echoes the Mesopotamian Ziggurat – “the platform between Heaven and Earth”

An art-deco building rose from Manhattan bedrock, a sculptor conceived a church, an architect saw a Ziggurat, and Nature said “let there be flowers on this desert rock.” Upon reflection there’s no accounting for any of it.

You can never predict the outcome of original conception.

Sedona Arizona, February 1st 2014, two days after hiking Grand Canyon

I would never have known about this masterpiece were it not for my friend Jeff’s boneheaded idea for us to hike to the bottom of Grand Canyon, camp in 17 degree weather at Phantom Ranch then hobble back up to the South Rim in the most dire of straits with an ice-storm behind us in hot pursuit…we were very very very lucky to have made it back at all much less before the storm hit

Jeff knew about this Chapel and had actually been here before…somehow he must have known how much I love architecture and great design

It was such a fine extraordinary experience…and completely safe–unlike our hike in the Canyon

With this little detour in Sedona, Jeff almost made-up for nearly getting us killed in the Canyon…almost


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5 thoughts on “Sedona – Reflections On Original Conception”

  1. When we drove by this Chapel in the 80s, I said “this is where I want to get married”. I have often wondered what that altar looked liked. Now I know. Thank you

    Sent from my iPad



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