Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, 1939 Golden Gate Exposition

Over seventy years ago, religious leaders in the Bay Area raised $100,00 to construct a Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace for the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island.

San Francisco's Temple represented all faiths, unlike the Temple of Religion at the 1938 World's Fair in New York City that only represented Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Also, as involvement in the second world war seemed increasingly inevitable, for the last eight Sundays of the exposition the organization sponsored a series of events and lectures to promote peace and keep America out of the conflict.

Treasure Island was later seized from the City and County of San Francisco by the Navy for use as a base during World War II.

We recently received a scrapbook and other materials collected by Fred D. Parr, Parr was the President of the California Church Council and Vice-President and Chairman of the Finance Committee for Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, Inc.

The scrapbook details the events surrounding the Temple. Besides the activities of local religious organizations, there were a number of curious crises. One mural met with great concern. The depiction of Jesus by Austrian artist Franz Bergmann seemed too dark and "lacking in spirituality and kindness" by many clergymen. Moses appeared too stern and, in a departure from usual form, mostly bald. Bergmann agreed to soften both figures.

Among the exhibits were archeological artifacts from the Palestine Institute (now Bade Institute of Biblical Archaeology) of Pacific School of Religion, a Marcus Whitman exhibit from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the John Howell exhibit of Bibles, later donated to PSR.

For more information about the Fred D. Parr: Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, Golden Gate International Exhibition Collection, 1938 – 1939, GTU 2009-11-01, please contact the archivist at archives@gtu.edu.

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