Laura Macky Photography

Journey of a body on this earth

Sunol Water Temple


There’s a really cool water temple about 15 miles from me and with today’s clouds I thought it would be a good time to go take a picture or two.  I have two images so far; but I’m kind of excited about this one, so I’m posting it by itself here.  I love the rotunda and am happy to share it with you here.  I’ve included some history about the temple below in case you’re interested.

Sunol Water Temple - Rotunda

Sunol Water Temple – Rotunda

The Sunol Valley Water Temple, located on the Alameda Watershed near the town of Sunol, marks the confluence of three sources of water flowing into the Sunol Valley of southern Alameda County.

The 1910 beaux arts landmark, built by predecessor, the Spring Valley Water Company, was designed by renowned architect Willis Polk and modeled after the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy. The converging waters of Alameda Creek, Arroyo de la Laguna, and the Pleasanton Wells poured down into a tile basin at the temple bottom. Though the waters were once used for San Francisco’s water supply before construction of the Hetch Hetchy system, today only a small amount is diverted for local San Francisco Water, Power and Sewer uses and storage. The rest is released into Alameda Creek.

Visitors approach Sunol Temple on a long ceremonial drive lined with lilac bushes. A grove of Lombard poplars surrounds the temple, and a ridge of hills rises behind it.

The 60-foot-high Sunol Water Temple’s red tile roof rests on 12 Corinthian columns. Wedge-shaped paintings adorn the ceiling supported by elaborately decorated beams. The terra cotta roof elements were fabricated by Gladding McBean Tile Company of Los Angeles, and the painted wood ceiling was created by Yun Gee and other artists.

Sunol Water Temple was designated a California Historical Engineering Landmark in 1976 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.



Author: lauramacky

Journey of a Body on this Earth

45 thoughts on “Sunol Water Temple

  1. This is great! I can’t wait to see more pictures from the temple.

  2. Very regal looking, Laura, and it reminds me of some of M. C. Escher’s early work! 🙂

  3. What a cool temple. Your shot’s brilliant.

  4. You never fail to impress me. Great shot!

  5. Interesting Water Temple 😀 Nice click!

  6. Stunning shots… May I ask which lens did you use? 24mm just a guess 🙂

  7. Lovely. Love the contrast with the colors. Like looking up to a portal to another world…maybe you should have gotten closer 😉

  8. Great shot -looks like a fascinating structure.

    • Thanks Richard. It is so cool. I love finding things like this and so close to where I live! I’ll probably post the next one tomorrow which shows the entire structure.

  9. Love your POV, Laura. Boosts the real height of the temple. Looks like the meeting point of characters of a fantasy world. Beautiful capture of a beautiful spot.

    • Thank you Reinhold. It’s a tall structure too. After googling I found out it’s 59′ tall. I love how you describe it as a fantasy world. Mabel Kwong said something similar about it looking like a portal for another world. Thanks again. 🙂

  10. Cool shots, the sky is wonderful.

  11. The one in San Mateo is cool too! Thousands of gallons a second pouring into darkness

  12. Love the photo! I didn’t know there were historic engineering landmarks. You may have set me off on a new quest 🙂

  13. Fantastic, exciting photo Laura! Beautifully done. Glad to know more about this landmark.

    • Thanks so much! I love the word exciting for this. :-). I’m so glad I went down there at that time because of the clouds. I hear there’s another one in Belmont near crystal springs. Now I have to see that one too!

  14. This looks like an interesting place. Your composition is very dramatic, Laura.

  15. Lovely – and not something I’d expect to find here in the US….as you mentioned, it was modeled after an Italian structure. Lucky California!

  16. Impressive structure, excellent photos!

  17. Wow Laura .. Just love the second shot. The colours are fabulous

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