Founded in 1909, the Chapel of the Chimes was constructed as a crematory and columbarium. The present building comes largely from a 1928 redevelopment designed by architect Julia Morgan. Built in the Moorish and Gothic style, the interior is a maze of small rooms featuring ornate stonework, statues, gardens, fountains and mosaics. The name 'chapel' refers primarily to the style of interior design, as it is not a traditional cemetery chapel building.


  • The inside of the chapel.
    The inside of the chapel.
  • A plaque commemorating the chapel.
    A plaque commemorating the chapel.

When it was constructed in 1909, the Chapel of the Chimes was the first electric crematorium in the world. In 1928 the building was enlarged and redeveloped based on the architectural plans of famed Oakland architect Julia Morgan. Her work is easier to see on the inside of the building and includes retractable skylights as well as a staircase that was designed for Hearst Castle.

Much of the metalwork that was added during the redesign was created on-site with the rest being done by craftsman Henry Gregorie. The Julia Morgan Chapel was not actually designed by Morgan but was named in her honor. In the 1920s and 1930s the Chapel broadcast their organ music live over the radio station KRE, who also had a lease agreement with the Chapel.

The Chapel of the Chimes was designated as an Oakland Landmark in 1999. Today, the Chapel of the Chimes hosts a variety of events, including the popular Jazz at the Chimes series of concerts. The Chapel received the award for Best Architectural Site from the East Bay Express in 2015.

Chapel of the Chimes. Local Wiki. Accessed June 11, 2017. https://localwiki.org/oakland/Chapel_of_the_Chimes.

Chapel of the Chimes. Atlas Obscura. Accessed June 11, 2017. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chapel-of-the-chimes.

Staff and History. Chapel of the Chimes. Accessed June 11, 2017. http://oakland.chapelofthechimes.com/who-we-are/history-and-staff.