Phoenix's Drive-in Church

Completed in 1965 by architect E Logan Campbell, the Glass and Garden Drive-in Church redefined the traditional church- going experience. Designed to accommodate Arizonans inclined to stay in their vehicles, the creation of the church reflected the growing drive-in culture in post-war America. Beyond its unique drive-in model, with its circular shape and iconic dome roof, Glass and Garden is a wonderful example of the Mid-Century Architectural movement.

Following World War II, American Suburbs prospered. Because the land surrounding cities was less expensive, Americans flocked to the suburbs to purchase cheaper land. To serve the new suburban population, drive-in movie theaters proliferated. America shifted towards a culture of convenience and the Drive-in movie embodied this movement, older audiences or families with young children could go to the movies without any difficulty. The drive-in concept was also a more practical business investment, as the land was cheaper and the expense of a traditional theater building was unnecessary.

The founder of Glass and Garden, Pastor Floyd Goulooze wanted to offer a church experience that catered to people of all religious backgrounds. Previously the Pastor to Garden Grove Community Drive-In Church in California, Goulooze knew the drive-in concept was a perfect solution to his goal. An adaptation of the popular drive-in movie movement, Drive-in churches allowed those that may have been intimidated by a traditional church service to stay in their cars and listen to the sermon in the comfort of their own vehicle. To actualize his vision, Goulooze worked with local architect Logan E Campbell and engineer John K. Parsons. Logan E. Campbell, a lesser-known Scottsdale architect designed few other buildings, including portions of the Phoenix Zoo. Parsons became a successful engineer, working on several other domed building projects.

Glass and Garden has a distinctly mid-century appearance with touches of Southwestern appeal. The church is an elliptical shape with a thin-shell concrete dome roof, a common feature of mid-century buildings, The construction of thin-shell domed buildings in America began shortly after the Great Depression with Chicago architect Anton Tedesko. The style continued throughout World War II with airplane hangars, and continued growing in popularity in the Post War era into the seventies. At the base of the dome is a decorative green band that extends in inverted arches down the sides of the building. On each side, floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the expansive 1400-seat inside sanctuary. Beside the East entrance of the building is a large parking lot where amplifiers used to stand among the spots for church-goers that preferred to enjoy the service from their cars.

Economic and population growth in Arizona in the Post War era coupled with an increase in religious devotion during the Cold War resulted in the construction of many new churches in Scottsdale. Goulooze wanted to capitalize on the growth; he believed that the city would continue to expand East and envisioned a massive 1400 seat church to accommodate the expected masses of people. Unfortunately Goulooze misjudged the extent of this prosperity; the economic recession of the seventies and the lack of projected expansion East left the church largely empty. Since then Glass and Garden dealt with an embezzling pastor and has now been permanently closed.

Images

Map

8620 East McDonald Drive Scottsdale, AZ 85250