Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine: Reopening of the Windmill Chapel

September 1, 2015

SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening Ceremony Prayer

July 27, 2015, was a memorable and festive day at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, as hundreds of members and friends gathered to celebrate the reopening of the historic Windmill Chapel. This beloved shrine, blessed by the presence of Paramahansa Yogananda, was closed for almost two years whileSRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening Brother Achalananda ribbon-cutting ceremony Self-Realization Fellowship carried out a comprehensive renovation and restoration of the building.

SRF's vice president, Brother Achalananda, conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony (right), which was preceded by introductory comments by Brother Vishwananda, a senior minister and member of SRF's Board of Directors (below left). He thanked the key professionals who had contributed to the project, noting that the Windmill Chapel looks virtually unchanged—the hallmark of a successful restoration—despite the fact that SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening introductory comments by Brother Vishwanandaevery part of the building has been either repaired, replaced, refurbished, or improved in some way.

Nearly two dozen SRF monks and nuns also were on hand to host the visitors, to lead them in periods of chanting and meditation inside the Windmill Chapel, and to give short talks on the renovation project and the history and significance of this unique SRF landmark.

During the renovation project, painstaking care was taken to preserve the building's appearance within and without. For example, the tiles that cover the windmill tower were carefully removed, numbered, and put back in place after repairs and SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening Speech by Brother Vishwananda and Brother Achalanandaimprovements to the frame. New steel structural elements, added to protect the building in event of an earthquake, were especially designed and installed so that they are entirely hidden from view. The windmill sails and window casings (along with other wooden elements that had to be replaced) were meticulously recreated to precisely match the originals.

In addition to the architects, engineers, and other professionals, SRF monks who are skilled in carpentry and construction also played a vital role in the project—particularly in the restoration of the building's extensive woodwork.

The Windmill Chapel's past is both colorful and hallowed.  An executive at 20th Century Fox movie studios, who owned the Lake Shrine property in the 1940s, originally commissioned the construction. His fancy was to reproduce a 16th-century Dutch windmill.SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening with Paramahansa Yogananda playing the organ When Paramahansa Yogananda acquired the property in 1949, he made this building into a chapel, where he held various events between 1950 and 1952. SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening Paramahansa Yogananda Last Supper

One of the most poignant moments in the Windmill Chapel's history was the Guru's "Last Supper" with a group of monks on March 6, 1952, the day before he left his body (left and right). On that occasion he played the organ and chanted "Light the Lamp of Thy Love" for more than an hour. In the words of a monk who accompanied Paramahansaji that day: "Master sat before the organ and played several of his chants and other Indian music....Our hearts were filled with rapture. A real devotee of God was singing to the Divine Mother, and we felt his love and devotion and the bliss flowing from his hallowed temple….His eyes were radiant with joy."

SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening Windmill ChapelThe Windmill Chapel was enlarged in the 1950s to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the Lake Shrine. In the ensuing decades, time and the elements took their toll on the building, finally necessitating this complete renovation. Work completed in the past two years includes: repair of water and termite damage; repair or replacement of all the roofs, window casings, skylight, windmill sails, and many other parts of the building; upgrades of the furnace, gas lines, electrical and security systems, fire alarms, and audio system;  improvement of access for the disabled; and enhancement of the surrounding landscaping. 

Self-Realization Fellowship offers profound thanks to all who contributed to this project, whether in the form of service, financial support, or prayers. These united efforts have helped to ensure that, for generations to come, Paramahansa Yogananda's Windmill Chapel will welcome devotees and visitors from the world over to meditate amidst the tranquil beauty of the SRF Lake Shrine.


SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening inside decorated Windmill Chapel SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening inside Windmill Chapel with group of SRF devotees and friends
Especially decorated for the occasion, the newly refurbished Windmill Chapel awaits the reopening ceremony on July 27, 2015. Inside the Windmill Chapel, Brother Vishwananda addresses a group of SRF devotees and friends.
SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening SRF Monks and Nuns host visitors on lawn SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening visitors viewing photographs of Windmill Chapel
SRF monks and nuns host visitors on the lawn by the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial. Visitors view displays featuring photographs of the Windmill Chapel over the decades and also various aspects of the renovation project.
SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening SRF Nuns with guests at lake side SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening Nuns with guests on patio at lake side
SRF nuns host guests amidst the scenic beauty of the SRF Lake Shrine.
SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening visitors surrounding landscape at Windmill Chapel SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel Reopening statue of Christ looking down at Windmill Chapel
Visitors view the refurbished Windmill Chapel and surrounding landscaping. Perched on a hilltop across the lake from the Windmill Chapel, a statue of Christ seems to bless the tranquil and picturesque SRF Lake Shrine.


Shop Bookstore   |   eNews   |     Donate   |   Contact Us   |   Sitemap   |   Audio Video Index   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use  
Copyright © Self-Realization Fellowship. All Rights Reserved.