Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes closes due to land movement after rain

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Friday, February 16, 2024
Wayfarers Chapel closes due to ground movement after storms
Two months after it was added to the register of National Historic Landmarks, the Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes has closed indefinitely due to land movement.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (KABC) -- Wayfarers Chapel, a scenic wedding spot that was recently designated a National Historic Landmark, has been closed indefinitely because of ground movement in the area, the church said Thursday.

The closure comes after recent heavy rains left Southern California hillsides oversaturated, leading to landslides and mudflows throughout the region.

"With recent rains and even rains last winter we understand it's just percolating down from the hills above us and its causing asphalt to surge in ways we have never seen before," said Rev. Dan Burchett, executive director of the chapel.

Several homes were damaged last year in nearby parts of Rancho Palos Verdes.

"We'll rebuild from this obviously," one Rancho Palos Verdes resident said. "Everybody will rebuild from this, but we do need to make it stop moving."

"Effective immediately, we are extremely devastated to announce the closure of Wayfarers Chapel and its surrounding property due to the accelerated land movement in our local area," the chapel announced.

"For those who have confirmed reservations at Wayfarers Chapel, please know refunds will be issued, and our Weddings and Events Office will be in contact with you soon."

There was no word on when it might reopen.

Wayfarers Chapel was designed by Lloyd Wright, son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and opened in 1951 on a scenic hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is known as a popular site for weddings and a filming location.

Two months ago, it was added to the register of National Historic Landmarks, with federal officials describing it as "an exceptional example of modern organic ecclesiastical architecture."

Wayfarers Chapel nominated as National Historic Landmark

Wayfarers Chapel has been nominated as a National Historic Landmark.

"The decision to close Wayfarers Chapel for public safety is the right one, but it is still devastating news and another reminder of the seriousness of this land movement," County Supervisor Janice Hahn said. "Wayfarers Chapel is one of the more beautiful chapels in the country if not the world and we all have treasured memories there."

The chapel plans to start a GoFundMe page to help pay for structural renovations but in the meantime, there is a donation link on its main website.

Last summer, at least two homes in Rancho Palos Verdes and another dozen in nearby Rolling Hills Estates were red-tagged because of land movement. Residents said underground waterline breaks contributed to the problem, on top of the heavy rainfall from last winter.