You might ask: “you, an atheist – and “temple” of any sort? why, or why?” And I’ll tell you, flashing my lashes over curvy shoulder: Art Deco, baby!
That was a long overdue visit. For years – especially one chilling spring 4 years ago, walking to Pratt every Sunday – I’ve been passing the building on 14th street, wishing the monumental gates were for once open and I could ascent its majestic staircase. Or, rather, two. No, more, as it turned out. So when the long-anticipated program of the OH weekend was finally revealed this was the first site I put on my checklist.
Architect: Vorhees, Gmelin & Walker, 1930; Kostow/Greenwood, 2011
The Centennial Memorial Temple is one of the most famous venues in all of the Salvation Army world. Built in 1929 in memory of founder William Booth’s birthday, the Centennial Memorial Temple has hosted many of the Salvation Army’s large events and has been hosting orchestra, graduations, and other churches from around world for the past several years. With its beautiful Art Deco design by New York City trailblazer Ralph Walker, the 1,350-seat venue remains a place where people are welcomed and inspired.
Our guide was the director (Leader? Supreme Shaman?Head of All Priests?) of this curious organization (“Divisional Commander, Lt. Colonel Guy D. Klemanski”, tells us the official site. I think he said he and the wife are from Australia…) I was a rather desultory listener, paying more attention to glorious angles of the ceiling and stylized thistles of the air grids than to his explanations. I gathered as much: the building was designed to be the headquarters of the Salvation Army: conglomerate of various evangelical churches that still rent the space for their functions, events and galas. One of the tourists in the group asked the inevitable “how come there are no crosses, sculptures of saints or altar, this being a church?” – question. The Commander was happy to explain, at length, as you may imagine – and I wandered off, clicking the camera to my heart’s content at beautiful stage, rows and rows of red-velvet+leather seats, limestone wainscot staggering along the wall passages, and the ceiling.
See more in my Flickr album at the bottom of the right margin.Oops, apologies. Due to technical reasons (idiocy of the author) the whole Flickr album has been deleted irretrievably]