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Most Beautiful Place to Spend Eternity 

The Chapel of the Chimes

There was a time when family burial plots were prized holdings shared between generations. But as atomic families have scattered and burial alternatives such as cremation have gained popularity, a sunny patch of hilltop may no longer be your first choice for eternal rest. Cremains can be shot into space, compressed into man-made diamonds, or scattered by survivors at a meaningful location. But if you're looking for a unique place to rest your ashes, a place that will invite family and friends to quietly contemplate the greatness of you, there are few columbaria more striking than Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes. Founded in 1909, the structure was rebuilt and expanded in 1928 according to designs by Julia Morgan. The labyrinth of alcoves, niches, cloisters, portals, stairwells, courtyards, chapels, and indoor gardens is augmented by natural illumination that streams through skylights and stained-glass windows. The nooks are lined with glass-enclosed cubbyholes that host boxes, urns, and faux-book volumes, each holding the final chapter of a decedent's life story. It's a combination of Harry Potter's Hall of Prophecies, the Clue game board, and the Winchester Mystery House. The columbarium's gothic ornamentation is juxtaposed with airy mausoleum spaces of white walls, fountains, and minimal decoration. The mausoleum's most renowned name is that of bluesman John Lee Hooker, who rests in the Garden of Ages on the building's third floor. Chapel of the Chimes hosts the annual Garden of Memory walk-through and Jazz at the Chimes concert as well as monthly docent-led historical tours. The building is open daily to the public and provides a tranquil and reflective sanctuary amid Oakland's lively urban buzz.

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