1906 quake with apostles

Nature’s destructive Quakers and Shakers

The Great Earthquake of 1906 reduces the Memorial Church to ruins… President David Starr Jordan recounted the damage in an interview with the Daily Palo Alto: “Wreckage of the Memorial Church by the fall of the heavy spire, which crashed through the nave, the air blowing off the upper part of both ends of the church. The walls generally, of steel construction, are intact, but the building is ruined.” Jordan adds that “we have often said that it is not buildings but men that make the University. This is the time for Stanford men to show that this is true. Never was a time in the history of our country when gifts to education counted for more than today.”

Reconstruction transpired between 1908 and 1917, though the spires, tower, rose window, “eye of God” apse design, and twelve apostle statues were never replaced. A Stanford alumna (class of 1908) still recalled the looming presence of these statues several decades after the earthquake: “When I look at the interior view of the church in ‘Stanford Today,’ I still miss the white marble apostles – all so real to me with their expressions of peace or alarm or understanding.”

Featured image: destruction of twelve apostle statues in Memorial Church after the Great Earthquake of 1906.  Stanford Historical Photograph Collection