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California: Stanford University - Memorial Church | by wallyg
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California: Stanford University - Memorial Church

Stanford Memorial Church, located in the main quad at the center of the Stanford University campus, was commissioned by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband, Leland Stanford, founder of the university. Dedicated on January 25, 1903, the church was designed by architect Charles A. Coolidge in the Romanesque style after H.H. Richardson's Trinity Church in Boston in mind--an allusion diminished greatly when its large central tower with turrets and a twelve-sided spire was lost as a result from the 1906 Earthquake. It also features distinct Byzantine details, stylized after those seen by Jane Stanford on her visits to the churches of Constantinople and Venice.

 

The ornate facade is divided into two zones with a gable roof of low pitch surmounted by a Celtic cross. The lower zone features three arched entrances with surrounding stonework, intricately carved with stylized flora, twisted-cable moldings, and bosses of sculpted cherubim. In the spandrels are mosaic depictions of the biblical concepts intertwined in a vine representing the "tree of life".

 

The upper zone features a large central window, with groups of three smaller windows on each side, surrounded by the largest of the church's many mosaics, created by Antonio Paoletti, and recreated by him after the 1906 earthquake. Measuring 84 feet wide at the base and 30 feet in height, at the time of its completion, it was the largest mosaic in the U.S. It depicts a group of men, women and children, 47 in all, surrounding Christ, in front of a landscape with "waving palms and a gleaming sky." After Jane Stanford's death, the mosaic popularly gained the name "The Sermon on the Mount", although Stanford University historian Richard Joncas has insisted it does not depict the scene as described in the Gospel of Matthew.

 

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Taken on September 11, 2009