The 1960 Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean earthquake was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. In Valdivia the church had been demolished, completely, by this destructive temblor.
In 1963, I was appointed to rebuild twelve churches and parsonages in the Southern part of Chile, damaged by the earthquake.
The city of Valdivia was badly damaged by the earthquake, due to a subsidence in the alluvial plane on which it was built. The river Calle Calle which ran through the city and was lowered by the subsidence by twelve feet was also impacted by a mud slide that traveled for about fifty miles from upstream. This made building in the area very difficult.
I had only recently, within weeks, been assigned the work of reconstruction, as one of twelve different churches and parsonages. We had to clear the property and get permission to rebuild, from the city of Valdivia. At the same time, I had to be in Concepcion with the architect Linitz, a distance of two hundred miles from Valdivia (in addition, I was the pastor of Loncoche, Villarica, and Pitrufquen; First and Second Church of Temuco).
Alerce is a native wood to Southern Chile akin to redwood. It was chosen to be the primary emphasis of the Valdivia Church because of its durability in a rainy climate. The framework of the church was made of steel girders to give strength to the entire building. The shape of the building was multiple triangles in order to increase the resilience in an earthquake. The interior of the sanctuary was made of alerce shingles four feet long. burnished with beeswax (hand applied).
– by Don Waddell
I had only recently, within weeks, been assigned the work of reconstruction, as one of twelve different churches and parsonages
This beautiful and unique building created to withstand earthquakes, still exists today as a landmark construction in all of Chile commemorating the 1960 earthquake.
– by Constance Waddell