First United Methodist Church of Glendale
The congregants who commissioned this Mid-Century Modern landmark expressed their desire for a traditional cathedral—but one with modern elements. Their architects did not disappoint.
When the congregation of the First United Methodist Church of Glendale commissioned a new church, it had a cathedral-like edifice in mind, but welcomed elements of Modern designs as well. Architectural firm Flewelling and Moody responded with a true melding of the two seemingly contradictory visions, resulting in a building that is a distinctive landmark of Glendale Modernism.
Completed in 1961, the Glendale First Methodist Church has a traditional cruciform plan, with a central nave, side transepts, and a chancel. It also retains the height and monumentality of a Gothic cathedral, and has the tall concrete columns and abundant stained glass you would expect. But it does it all in a wonderfully expressive Mid-Century Modern style using a folded roof of thin-shell concrete, simple vertical lines, and minimalist exterior masonry cladding.
A 112-foot-high, three-legged concrete tower, the Trilon, stands watch in front of the church and marks its location from a height visible across much of the city.
The building’s interior is truly spectacular, dappled with multicolored light from the forty-foot-high stained glass windows created by John Wallis of Pasadena’s Wallis-Walley glass studio and Flewelling and Moody firm member Jean Whinnery. This intact church is an icon of Modern design in Glendale, and deservedly so.