Located on Nob Hill, San Francisco's Grace Cathedral is a soaring neo-Gothic structure that hosts a vibrant and inclusive Episcopalian congregation and shelters many notable works of medieval-style art.
History of Grace Cathedral
The first chapel in this part of San Francisco was built in the Gold Rush year of 1849 and named Grace Church. It was rebuilt twice, and the third incarnation was so grand that it came to be referred to as "Grace Cathedral." This was destroyed in the great fire that followed the earthquake of 1906.
In the early 1920s, the railroad baron and banker Charles Crocker donated his Nob Hill property for a cathedral. Designed in French Gothic style by Lewis Hobart, construction on the cathedral began in 1928. When it was finally completed in 1964, it was the third largest Episcopal cathedral in United States.
In July 2008, Grace Cathedral announced plans to implement solar power technology. The San Francisco mayor applauded the decision, saying it would help attain the city's goal to make San Francisco "the greenest city in the country."
What to See at Grace Cathedral
Grace Cathedral appears to be made of stone but is in fact constructed of reinforced concrete that has been beaten to achieve a stone-like effect.
Inside, one of the cathedral's most interesting features are its stained-glass windows, particularly those by the French Loire studios and Charles Counick, whose subjects include portraits of Thurgood Marshall, Robert Frost, and Albert Einstein.
Filling the back of the nave is a 35-foot-wide indoor labyrinth on a large rug, a replica of the 13th-century stone version on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. As at Chartres, there's also an outdoor labyrinth on the cathedral's north side. Visitors are encouraged to walk the labyrinths as a form of active meditation.
Also of note are the replicas of Ghiberti's bronze Doors of Paradise at the east end (the originals are on the baptistery in Florence); murals completed in the 1940s by Polish artist John de Rosen; and the carillon of 44 bell. A black-and-bronze stone sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi by Beniamino Bufano stands near the entrance.
Grace Cathedral is a popular tourist attraction for its art and architecture, but it also offers worship services, musical performances, a Thursday-night evensong (5:15), and a weekly "Forum," in which guests lead discussions about social issues and spirituality in modern times. The cathedral is the spiritual center for the local community and its congregation prides itself on being welcoming and inclusive of all faiths.
Quick Facts on Grace Cathedral
|Styles:||Gothic Revival style|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||37.791744° N, 122.413595° W|
|Address:||1100 California St|
San Francisco, California
|Hours:||Mon-Fri 7-5:45; Sat-Sun 7-5|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Grace Cathedral|
- Grace Cathedral: Church - official website
- Grace Cathedral: History & the Arts - official website
- Grace Cathedral - Frommers.com
- San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral Going Solar-Powered - Inhabitat
- Photos of Grace Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Grace Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Grace Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.