Future of historic landmark Wayfarers Chapel uncertain as dismantling nears completion

Ashley Mackey Image
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Future of Wayfarers Chapel uncertain as dismantling wraps up
The dismantling of the historic Wayfarers Chapel on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is almost complete. For decades, it was a popular wedding site.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (KABC) -- It's the end of an era for the historic Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Crews this week neared the end of their work to dismantle the iconic building.

"Well it's sad. Very sad," said Sheila Barbour of San Pedro. "It's been there forever since the '60s I think. So, yeah, it's really sad. But the whole street's gone so the whole thing is sad."

The 100-seat glass chapel has been a popular wedding spot for the past 73 years. It was designated a national historic landmark in 2023, but it's also been falling apart for months now and has been closed since earlier this year because the land beneath it continues to shift at an accelerated rate.

Weddings, special events canceled as Wayfarers Chapel closes due to land movement

The historic Wayfarers Chapel is expected to remain closed for at least two years as solutions are pursued to counter shifting land in the area.

"The landslide complex that is adjacent to the Portuguese landslide has been affecting the chapel with up to nine inches per month of movement in the last several months," said Dan Burchett, executive director of Wayfarers Chapel. "Everything is basically breaking up cracking and we're experiencing rather devastating impact."

Chapel officials say they've been working to disassemble and save what they can of the original architecture. The beams that have held up the glass chapel for more than seven decades are coming down and will be stored on city-owned land about four miles away.

While chapel officials attempt to acquire a new location, many disappointed couples who've booked Wayfarers Chapel for their special day will have to come up with a new plan.

"I've been to weddings there," said Jan Ly, who grew up in the Rancho Palos Verdes area and now lives nearby in Torrance. "It's such a beautiful place to experience and it's sad that it's being torn down, but hopefully they can put it up in another location."

Before they identify the chapel's new location, officials say they need to raise at least $20 million and then another $1 million to return to couples for wedding cancellation fees.