Grace Cathedral, San Francisco in San Francisco
Grace Cathedral is an Episcopal cathedral located on Nob Hill in San Francisco. It is the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of California, once state-wide in area, now comprising parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. The cathedral community is known for its open-mindedness.
The cathedral has become an international pilgrimage center for church-goers and visitors alike, famed for its mosaics by De Rosen, a replica of Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, two labyrinths, varied stained glass windows, Keith Haring AIDS Chapel altarpiece, and medieval and contemporary furnishings, as well as its 44 bell carillon, three organs, and choirs.
It contains one of only seven remaining Episcopal men and boys cathedral choirs, the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, along with two other choirs with its corresponding boys K-8 school in the United States, along with Washington National Cathedral. Its director of music and choirmaster is Ben Bachmann. The Very Reverend Alan Jones retired as dean on January 31, 2009. He was also the moderator of The Forum at Grace Cathedral. On June 25, 2010, the Rev. Canon Dr. Jane Alison Shaw was named the eighth dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. She was picked by the Dean Search Committee, headed by Valerie Dorfman and Toby Keller.
Its ancestral parish, Grace Church, was founded in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The cathedral is the daughter of historic Grace Church. The first little chapel was built in the gold rush year of 1849, and the imposing third church, for a time called Grace "Cathedral", was destroyed in the fire following the 1906 earthquake. The railroad baron/banker Crocker family gave their ruined Nob Hill property for a diocesan cathedral, which took its name and founding congregation from the nearby parish.
Mark Twain was to satirize the church's efforts to find a short-term rector in the 1860s and 1870s. Among the short-term rectors were roll film inventor Hannibal Goodwin and James Smith Bush great-grandfather of former US President George H. W. Bush and great-great-grandfather of former US President George W. Bush.
Dean J. Wilmer Gresham nurtured the young cathedral and work began on the present structure in 1928. Designed in French Gothic style by Lewis P. Hobart, it was completed in 1964 as the third largest Episcopal cathedral in the nation.
Works by Jan Henryk De Rosen
Grace Cathedral has a significant collection of varied works by Jan Henryk De Rosen. 32 windows or window groups, dating from 1930 to 1966, were designed by American Charles Connick and his Boston studio. Connick windows include The Chapel of Grace and baptistry window series that contains over 32,000 pieces of glass and covers nearly 833 sqft. The Cathedral also contains 24 faceted windows by Gabriel Loire of Chartres, France, including the Human Endeavor series depicting John Glenn, Thurgood Marshall, Jane Addams, Robert Frost, and Einstein. Between 1995-1998 several of the cathedral's choir and aisle windows were restored by Reflection Studios of Emeryville, California.<ref name="divinelight" />
The Carillon was the gift of Dr. Nathaniel T. Coulson, a San Francisco dentist and realtor who came from Lostwithiel in Cornwall. When Coulson first arrived in San Francisco in 1875, he found his way to Grace Church, which lacked a bell tower. Although a Methodist, he vowed to provide bells for the church and eventually spent his life savings to realize his dream and to erect the Singing (north) Tower to house them. The Carillon consists of forty-four bronze bells, cast and tuned at the Gillett & Johnston Foundry of Croydon, England, in 1938. The bells arrived before the cathedral tower was completed, so they spent their first years on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay as the centerpiece of the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition. The carillon was first played from its Singing Tower home on Christmas Eve, 1940, and was formally dedicated in 1943. The bells have been rung to mark a number of important events including D-Day and the centenary of the San Francisco cable car system.
In popular culture
Notable photographer Ansel Adams produced a series of photographs of the uncompleted cathedral in 1935.
"Grace Cathedral Park" is the first song on Red House Painters' first self-titled album.
"Grace Cathedral Hill" is track 7 on The Decemberists' Castaways and Cutouts album. It recounts a New Year's Eve experience, in which the singer and his sullen (presumably grieving) female companion visit the church to light candles.
Alfred Hitchcock filmed an abduction scene for his final film, Family Plot, in the cathedral in 1975. It also appeared in The Pleasure of His Company (1961) and Bicentennial Man (1999).
Armistead Maupin's iconic Tales of the City series has an Episcopal cannibal cult operating out of Grace Cathedral as one of its sub-plots. In the TV adaptation, Maupin plays a cameo role as a minister of Grace Cathedral, but the cathedral interiors were actually filmed in Montreal.
Jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi recorded a "jazz mass" at the Cathedral in 1965.
- Grace Cathedral website
- Cathedrals of California website
- Grace Cathedral Names Jane Alison Shaw as its Eighth Dean