odd buildings phoenix

Capstone Cathedral – Visiting a Phoenix Icon

When my family moved to Arizona in 1980, the Capstone Cathedral immediately caught my eye.

Well, more accurately, the awesome glowing green pyramid 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 would take a seat 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 the real scoop behind Capstone Cathedral, check out this great story on the Phoenix New Times website.

My Capstone Cathedral Curiosity

But the real point: I always wanted to go onside. I had visions of weird cultists crawling around. That was enough to keep me away. Every time I drove by, I stared at the pyramid. Especially at night.

capstone cathedral

The green pyramid looks a bit beat up.

Up Close with an Icon

One day, I drove past the Capstone Cathedral. And I didn’t have much to do. Even more importantly, I had 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 worse for wear these days – the paint is fading and some of the green glass in the upper pyramid is 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. Everything looked like it was working, as if waiting for the congregation to show up.

capstone cathedral

A look at the darkened main room.

The light shining through 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 knew 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. But 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, the land is just too valuable -- and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to get bulldozed in the near future.

(It still hasn’t happened yet as of Spring 2019)


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Writer. Traveler. Gastronomic daredevil. Fitness fan. Homebrewer. Metal dude \m/. Cat and dog lover.

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