Discovering Great Mormon Buildings

Sunset Ward Entry

1601 22nd Ave
San Francisco, CA
Built 1945
Click for Map Location of Building


4 responses

  1. k kern

    Regarding the picture hanging in the foyer of the Sunset Ward Chapel: Here is some history on this piece of art.

    Ernest Semereau, a German immigrant convert, offered to do a charcoal drawing in lieu of a contribution. He wanted to repay kindness extended to him, and he offered a picture done in a craft he had learned as a child. This process consists of filling the surface of the canvas with charcoal and selectively erasing small areas. After much deliberation, we chose Kaufman’s picture of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane as the picture Semereau should copy. The picture, about six by seven feet, was completed in 1943 and then framed and hung in the front of the chapel, behind the pulpit.
    This picture has had an interesting history. The Church has regulations against religious pictures in the LDS chapels, and many people thought that the picture should be taken down. I fought many a pitched battle against its removal. Once I had the opportunity and occasion to ask President McKay what he thought of the picture. When he said he loved it, I had good justification to keep the picture hung for many years. But I wasn’t always in a position to control policy.
    Later, when the picture was taken down and would have been disposed of, I rescued it and moved it to my basement. Then it was taken over to the Oakland Temple with the hope that it would be hung there. Temple authorities put it in storage instead and planned to throw it out. At that point it was carried away by Leon Collett, a temple worker and former member of the Sunset Ward who took it to his house. When Robert Larsen, who had been around a long time, was made Sunset Ward Bishop, he retrieved the picture and hung it once again in Sunset Ward. Now that the building has been remodeled, it is one of the few original furnishings remaining. Of course it is now hanging in the front lobby, rather than the chapel, but it is still very much part of the building. –personal history: S. J. Lauper, bishop of the Sunset Ward during the construction of the building and a member of the Sunset Ward until his death in 1994.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    • Thank you for all the great background info on this beautiful building.

      November 14, 2011 at 6:25 am

      • Steven Fehr

        I just discovered this website. My partner and I are planning a trip to San Francisco, where my mom, Geraldine Purdie, lived during her childhood and adolescence, and we are trying to track down some of the places she lived and hung out. I knew she attended the Sunset Ward building and I have some photos that I suspected were taken inside or outside the building. One is of a conference my mother attended as a young adult presided by David O. McKay in the late 50s. The picture is of the attendees (including President McKay and my mom) in the chapel. I always thought it was taken in the Sunset Ward chapel but never knew for sure until today when I happened on your website and saw this drawing of Christ and read the history of its place in the chapel. In the photo I have the drawing is indeed behind the pulpit, just as K Kern wrote it was. What a nice confirmation!

        August 4, 2014 at 1:39 am

    • Bob Mayfield

      I have many fond memories of that chapel and especially that picture. I am very grateful that it was saved by Pres. Lauper. I actually went online tonight to see if anyone had ever posted a photo of it. What a miracle. Thank you.

      December 16, 2015 at 1:31 am

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