Built in meadow in Yosemite Valley is a unique and historic Chapel, the oldest building in Yosemite. Located just off the Yosemite Valley Loop Road, this church was built in a New England style 130 years ago, completed on June 7, 1879. Originally built at the base of the “Four Mile Trail”, it was moved to the current site in 1901.
The chapel is an interdenominational church. In fact, the Yosemite Union Chapel Association deemed it so, in its incorporation in 1878 at ground breaking at the base of the “Four Mile Trail”.
On June 7, 1879 with John Muir as speaker, the chapel took its place in Yosemite history. Today, the chapel is used for Sunday services and numerous weddings and memorial services. Most noted, Former President Ulysses S. Grant visited Yosemite Valley in October of 1879, and when he died in 1885, memorial services for Grant were held in the Chapel.
Due to the proximity of the chapel to the Merced river, the dangers of floods were a reoccurring event each year. In 1966, the chapel was raised 5 feet by installs pilling under the structure. Even with this added height, the chapel was nearly destroyed by the flood of 1997. After reconstruction in the following year, marker plaques were mounted to show the water level within the church. It is amazing this 130 year old house of worship withstood this catastrophe.
On the upcoming June 7th anniversary of the Chapel, the granddaughter of Arthur Pillsbury will present her grandfather’s revolutionary photography works on the subject of Yosemite. In 1927, he built the first microscopic motion picture camera. A film showing some of his Yosemite accomplishments will be shown at the Chapel. Come to Yosemite in June and be part of this historic event.
Keywords: Yosemite Chapel, Yosemite Valley Loop Road, Four Mile Trail, John Muir, Ulysses S. Grant, Yosemite Union Chapel Association, Arthur Pillsbury, camera