Yosemite Valley Chapel

Yosemite Valley, California | C.1879

Photo Credit: Andy Tupman

This quaint, antiqued wood of the Yosemite Valley Chapel is hidden within Yosemite Valley. Designed by San Francisco architect Charles Geddes in the Carpenter Gothic style, it was built in 1879 by Geddes’ son-in-law, Samuel Thompson, for the California State Sunday School Association, at the cost of a mere three to four thousand dollars.

The first service was held on June 7, 1879, and the church was overflowed by delegates for the National Sunday School Assembly who were meeting in Yosemite Valley at that time. Originally built in the “Lower Village” as it was then called, the chapel was moved to its present location in 1901, as the old Lower Village dwindled.

As stipulated in the organization’s application for permission, the chapel is an interdenominational facility. The L-shaped frame chapel covers an area of about 1,470 square feet and is clad in wooden boards and batten siding with a prominent steeple. In all, it seats a congregation of about 250 people.

In response to a 1964 flooding of the area, the chapel was restored, and the foundations were raised in 1965. However, it still assumed damages in the 1997 Yosemite Valley floods and required further repairs. The structure was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1973.

The Chapel continues to be primarily a house of worship, however over the years it has become a popular wedding destination due to the spectacular setting and the picturesque beauty of the building. The first Chapel wedding took place on October 24, 1884 and the chapel continues to host weddings that seek a pastoral ambience to this day.

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