Memorial Church after 1989 earthquake

Loma Prieta rocks foundations of Memorial Church

The second earthquake in Stanford’s history ravages the architectural undergirding of Memorial Church. Particularly affected were the building’s crossing, four mosaic angels, and many of the roof tiles. When Loma Prieta struck, Gregory Wait, the choir director at the time, was rehearsing with his singers in the church while the Classics Department was hosting an event upstairs. Ominously, the earthquake interrupted the choir when they were singing this very verse from Handel’s Messiah: “Let us break their bonds asunder.” Still harrowed by what transpired, Wait exclaimed that “we could have been entombed.”