For nearly 30 years, the Rev. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral was not only a religious landmark, but an architectural wonder and an embodiment of flush times in Southern California’s Orange County.
Schuller, who began preaching to motorists at a drive-in movie theater in 1955, captured the ebullient positivity of midcentury America, and by the 1970s he was one of the country’s top televangelists, best-known for his broadcast, “Hour of Power.” The symbol of his success was Crystal Cathedral, a 128-foot-tall building designed by the cutting-edge mondernist architect Philip Johnson to be the largest glass building in the world.
From the top, you can see Disneyland. Inside seats almost 3,000. On holidays, services included live animals and acrobatic performers. It was a physical representation of the limitless hopes of the evangelical community of the time.
But the landscape began to change.