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Capstone Cathedral – Visiting a Phoenix Icon

An outside view of the Capstone Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz.

An outside view of the Capstone Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz.

When my family moved to Arizona in 1980, the Capstone Cathedral was the building that caught my eye.

Well, more accurately, it was the awesome glowing green pyramid that captivated me. I didn’t know what it was called or what went on inside of it – I was 6 years old at the time. I remember being vaguely aware that it might be a church. One of my brothers told me the church believed that, when Jesus returned to Earth, he’d be seated at the top of the pyramid (being as literal-minded as I was, I asked why the church didn’t put a seat up at the tip of the pyramid to make the savior a bit more comfortable). If you want to know the real scoop behind Capstone Cathedral, check out this great story on the Phoenix New Times website.

capstone cathedral

The green pyramid looks a bit beat up.

Up Close with an Icon

Well, the years flew by. I drove past the Capstone Cathedral, but never got to go inside. Then, a few years ago, I got my chance (and just never got around to writing about it until now).

I just happened to be in the neighborhood with a decent camera in my car. Just a Fuji superzoom, not an SLR. But I figured, why wait? I started with some outside photos.

As you can see, the Capstone Cathedral is quite the worse for wear these days – the paint had seen much better days, and some of the green glass in the upper pyramid was fractured. It saddens me to see the neglect. I’m not a religious guy, but the boldness of the architecture fascinates me and makes me believe the ol’ pyramid deserves better.

capstone cathedral

The Capstone Cathedral outer ring looks like a high school gym’s lobby.

Anyway, I got my exterior shots … and then crept up on a door. Maybe someone was around, and would let me take a few photos inside.

Inside the Capstone Cathedral

I pushed on the first door, and it opened. I couldn’t hear anything, and I decided it was time for a little bit of urban exploration. In I went, camera ISO cranked up to adjust for the low light. The outer ring reminded me of a bad high school gym lobby.
When I pushed my way into the main arena, though … that was truly cool. First, I noticed a fairly new sound system that was all powered up. There was still seating for a congregation, and everything looked in working order.

capstone cathedral

A look at the darkened main room.

The light coming in from the green dome was everything I expected. I definitely got that “at long last” rush that comes from finally seeing something I’ve always wanted to see. I took my photos and bolted; even though it was open, I had a feeling someone would get bent out of shape by a camera-wielding buffoon wandering the halls unescorted.

What’s Next for the Capstone Cathedral?

I don’t know what’s happening with Capstone Cathedral now. If I had my way, I’d love to see an enterprising soul turn it into an events and music venue. The potential is definitely there. Unfortunately, I think the land is just too valuable … and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to get bulldozed in the near future.

 

8 thoughts on “Capstone Cathedral – Visiting a Phoenix Icon

  1. Justtryingtohelp

    thanks for the photos on this! I’ve lived in the area awhile now and always wondered what it looked like inside. I thought music venue would be cool, but unfortunately the owner has sold off so much of the sorrounding space, I don’t think you would ever have enough parking. I’m also afraid it’s day are numbered…

  2. David Jarvis

    what going on with this church? when in AZ id see it –is it closed now or what ?? Dave Jarvis—Denver

  3. Wandering Justin Post author

    Hi here, Dave.
    I haven’t dropped in for awhile, so I can’t say for certain. One website has it listed as vacant, but doesn’t cite any evidence that it is. Sorry I can’t give you a better answer. Maybe I’ll have to revisit it. If I do, I’ll update my response to your question.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Sagan Hawks

    Hi! I’m into urban exploration, and unique religious churches and the like. Do you have any GPS coordinates or locations to help find this? Even just exterior photos would kick something off my bucket list. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  5. Wandering Justin Post author

    Never looked up coordinates – I used to pass by it every day, so no real need. Just plug it into the Google Maps feature on your phone and you’ll be fine.

  6. the rude rabbit

    We were on our mountain bikes by this church. According to our phone, the roof has a 18 degree slope. It looks like concrete, so it probably ride-able. After the first ledge, the concrete is really metal. It sags when there is weight on it.
    So we did not continue up the roof.

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