Noble Chapel: A Beautiful, Historic Treasure at Cypress Lawn

By Terry Hamburg, Director of the Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation

The Noble Chapel you behold today is a 2016 restoration of the original 1893 structure.

This restoration was painstakingly pursued in order to return this chapel as closely as possible to the appearance and specifications of the original structure. The project cost $5 million, took almost two years, and utilized materials from some of the same companies that contributed to the 1893 building. The chapel features a 6-foot by 12-foot Gothic arch stained-glass window highlighted with medallions and a floral design.

Noble Chapel was the initial work by notable San Francisco architect Thomas Patterson Ross, who patterned the chapel after St. Giles Church in Stoke Poges, England, the site where Thomas Gray penned his famous 1751 poem, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.”

Noble Chapel, circa 1940

The church was the first in Northern California to have a mortuary receiving vault and chapel together in the same facility. The area’s first crematory and columbarium were also situated on the grounds of Cypress Lawn. This combination of services, which made it possible for a cremation, a memorial service, and an inurnment to occur seamlessly at one location, turned the chapel into the most popular funeral venue in the Bay Area. A crematory and service area were adjoined directly to Noble Chapel in 1937. During the most recent renovation, the crematory was completely restored and furnished with the latest state-of-the-equipment.

Today, the chapel holds 60-plus people and is available for memorial services, as well as weddings and other appropriate functions.

Factoid: An 1898 promotional piece on Cypress Lawn Chapel states:

“The receiving vault is immediately in the rear of chapel and contains 24 niches, which are supplied with an electric attachment connected with the office by a secret wire, so that those who fear the remains of their loved ones being STOLEN can be assured of absolute safety, as the mere touching of the door of the niche will ring a gong in the office. Also, to those having a fear of being buried alive, a ring can be placed on the finger of the deceased, and the slightest movement will notify the watchman in the office, who is in attendance day and night.”

Factoid: Thomas Ross Patterson designed many structures in San Francisco, the most famous of which is the Islam Temple of the San Francisco Shiners at 650 Geary Blvd., presently named the Alcazar Theatre.

Are you interested in using the beautiful and historic Noble Chapel for a memorial service, funeral, or other event? Contact us today for details.