Chapels & Training Center

The Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) is one of the four historic buildings that remain on the site. It was one of several buildings added to the school campus during and immediately following Fred C. Nelles’ tenure as Superintendent, and is representative of the Nelles-era cottage system and its progressive ideals. Originally constructed between 1930 and 1933 in the Tudor Revival-style, it was the central kitchen and eating place for the wards and officers. The Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) fit well architecturally with the small human scale, de-institutionalized environment that was the goal of the cottage system. It was believed this would help provide the young wards with a sense of family, community, and belonging. The building also contributed to this purpose as a meeting and gathering place for the wards, both when it was used as the commissary and dining hall, and again later when it became a chapel and classroom space for the school.

Architectural Character

The Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) evokes the same Tudor Revival-style influences as many other campus buildings. The one-story structure with an irregular L-shaped plan, with a slightly obtuse angle, was a footprint that vaguely mimicked that of the Superintendent’s Residence, also designed by architect W.K. Daniels. The building had a concrete foundation, forming a partial basement, and a crawl space beneath the southwest wing. The hip roof was adorned with flat red clay tiles, installed in a zig-zag pattern. The exterior masonry walls were terra cotta tile blocks with an overlay of English bond brick. The Chapel wings referenced historic church design with the inclusion of ornamental buttresses made of brick on the exterior, and the installation of stained-glass windows in the outermost walls. The exterior walls of the building had a variety of finishes to create visual interest including wooden half-timbering on the front facing gable ends, sometimes in-filled with brick, and sometimes in-filled with plaster on the gable ends. The half-timbered gable located on the north elevation had a wooden verge board and a drop finial.

Between 1962 and 1963, the Kitchen and Commissary building was remodeled to include Protestant and Catholic chapels, as well as a training center. The southern entrance into the building formerly used to access the Boys Dining Room was shaded by an entry porch, emphasized with a distinctive gothic pointed arch. The porch had a timbered ceiling and wooden buttresses, and retained its original door with vertical beading and original decorative window screens. The southern entrance opened into the entrance hall of the Protestant Chapel (alteration, this area was altered circa 1962-63), where the motif of Gothic arches was repeated. On the wall of the reception hall, the doorway to the Protestant Chapel (alteration, non-original space) was framed by a row of pointed arches supported by engaged columns. The same pattern was repeated again on the inside of the chapel itself, on the west wall. The Catholic Chapel (alteration, non-original space formerly the Officer’s dining room) was smaller in size relative to the Protestant Chapel. The Catholic Chapel had a wooden truss system supporting the ceiling, and the dark wood created a stark contrast with the light colored walls.

Floor Plans

Because of the major remodel that occurred between 1962 and 1963, the original Kitchen and Commissary building as constructed between 1930 and 1933 did not retain the original floor plan, with the exception of the spaces formerly used for the Boy’s Dining Room and Officer’s Dining Room. Historically, approximately half of the building had spaces to support the kitchen, as the kitchen and dining use were removed; these spaces were converted into office and classroom spaces.

The south wing was remodeled into a training center, containing three classrooms, an office, and Chaplain’s office. The training center spaces were accessed from entrances located on the secondary, west and south elevations of the south wing, while the Chaplain’s office was located from the corridor to the south of the Catholic Chapel.

Historical Landscape Design

Located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Flower Garden Road and Service Drive, the Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) was spatially related to the Infirmary located to the east. The Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) was located behind a grass lawn along the north and west elevations; however, historically, the building was only setback behind a lawn along the north elevation, while the western portion of the north elevation and side (west) elevation fronted the service road. It appears that there was a rectangular paved surface parking area located to the northwest of the Infirmary and Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) abutting the side (west) elevation of the front facing gable extension housing the Catholic Chapel. A historical aerial dating from 1945 clearly showed the north elevation setback behind a lawn with a concrete east-west pathway extending from the service road to the road located between the Infirmary and Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center). A footpath originating from the front (north) of the Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) led to this road; however, due to the construction of the New Infirmary in 1993 the eastern extension of the footpath was removed.

It appears that the network of pathways in front of the north elevation of the Infirmary and Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) was added sometime between 1945 and 1967 based upon the comparison of the 1945 historical aerials to the 1967 site plan for a new irrigation system. In 1962, the building was converted in the Chapels and Training Center; and as a result of the conversion, a number of alterations were made to the hardscape in front of the primary (north) elevation. It appears that the most intact section of hardscape was the semi-circular pathway that started at the north-south walkway (alteration) leading to the primary entrance and curved to the east to join with the east-west pathway (alteration) paralleling the north elevation. Low shrubs hugged the inside curve of the walkway (non-original). Located within the space created by the curve was a Camphor Tree planted within a circular brick planter (it appears the brick planter was built around the tree later as it did not match the original quality of the brick used to construct the building). There was a north-south concrete pathway south of the Camphor Tree (possibly an early tree) that connected the curved walkway to the former exit for the Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel). In the 1962, the exit was altered and enclosed, thereby modifying the exit steps (a new concrete porch with handicap ramp was added, the brick steps appears to be from another alteration dating from when the circular planter around the tree was added), but it appears that the pathway to this exit was original. The east-west pathway paralleling the east end of the north elevation and leading to the former Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel) exit was altered and converted into a handicap accessible ramp. Metal railings lining the walkway were added. A planter bed was created behind this walkway and delineated by a concrete curb (alteration, addition concurrent to ramp).

There was a semi-circular concrete flower bed edging to the west of the entrance into the former Officer’s Dining Room (Catholic Chapel). Based on the analysis of historical aerials the edging appears to be added a later date.

In comparison to the primary (north) elevation, it appears that the network of pathways behind the rear (south) elevation was far more intact. The architectural drawings from 1930 show that there was a narrow north-south footpath extending from the entrance on the south elevation that led to the primary entrance of the Sousa Cottage (demolished), which remain extant. Next, a 1935 historical aerial shows an east-west pathway curving upward from the service road to meet the north-south path and then leading around the side (east) elevation to meet the pathway extending in front of the north elevation (remains extant, may have been repaved, and a large rectangular concrete surface was added to the south of the south elevation of the west wing). At the intersection of these two pathways in front of the north and south elevations they converged and led to the road between the Infirmary and Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center); this pathway was removed.

There were three short palm trees planted in front of the rear (south) elevation to the east of the Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel) entrance. Further to the south of the Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) was a mature Chinaberry tree. However, none of these trees appeared to be original as they were not present in the 1935 aerial.

Additional Information

For more historical information, including more building specifics, floor plans, and photos, download the HABS Report and reference page 407.

Physical History

Date of Erection

Constructed between 1930 and 1933


Deputy Chief W.K Daniels

Builder, Supplier, & Contractors

The Division of Architecture at the State of California Department of Public Works



The Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) was primarily rectangular with overall dimensions of approximately 150 feet by 140 feet.


The foundation system consisted of perimeter concrete strip footings supporting the perimeter bearing walls and interior isolated concrete spread footings supporting the concrete floor columns. The basement area had concrete retaining walls and the floor was a concrete slab on grade.


The exterior walls were predominately faced with English bond brick; however, some of the exterior surfaces were half-timbered. The tall, front facing gable on the north (front) elevation had wood half-timbering in-filled with stucco. Also, on the north elevation the entrance porch area into the Protestant Chapel had half-timbering in-filled with brick and stucco wall surfaces. The roof gable over the rear entrance into the Protestant Chapel had wood-half timbering in-filled with stucco.

Structural System & Framing

The Kitchen and Commissary (Chapels and Training Center) was unreinforced brick-masonry. The building’s gravity system at the Boys Dining Room (Protestant Chapel) area consisted of 1x straight wood roof sheathing spanning between wood beams supported on large concrete arches. The Officer’s Dining Room (Catholic Chapel) area had a similar gravity system, but with heavy timber trussed arches as main gravity support. In the southwest wing the structural system consisted of 1x sheathing spanning to trussed wood roof and ceiling joists at about two foot spacing that were supported by the exterior unreinforced masonry walls interior concrete beams and columns.

Porches, Stoops, Balconies & Bulkheads

The former entrance into the Officer’s Dining Room (now the Catholic Chapel) on the north elevation was accessed via a concrete platform with a set of four concrete stairs enclosed by a low brick wall to the west (alteration, the steps leading to the platform were built during the 1962-63 remodel). Also on the north elevation, was the entrance into the Protestant Chapel which consisted of a concrete platform protected by a flat roof (alteration, this area was altered during the 1962-63 remodel and was not original). Another concrete stoop and steps located on the far east end of the north elevation was built during the 1962-63 remodel. There was a concrete platform sheathed with brick located on the side (west) elevation (alteration, added concrete ramp and metal pipe railings). The rear elevation of the southern wing had another long concrete platform sheathed with brick (alteration, appears to have been modified and a pipe railing added). Located on the rear (south) elevation, was an enclosed entry porch into the former Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel). The porch was entered through a pointed-arch recessed entry articulated in cast stone and featured brick walls punctuated by three decorative metal grilles on the east wall, exposed wood truss framing, and decorative brick floor. A concrete stoop at the east end of the Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel) on the north elevation was added at a later date.



There was one stairway in the corridor located south of the Catholic Chapel added in 1962-63 that led to the choir loft.


The flooring throughout the building was contemporary tile and vinyl flooring.

Walls & Ceiling Finish

All of the interior wall finishes were contemporary painted, plastered walls. There did not appear to be any original wall finishes. While the ceiling treatment of both the Officer’s Dining Room (Catholic Chapel) and Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel) appeared to be intact. The Officer’s Dining Room (Catholic Chapel) had an oak truss ceiling and the Boy’s Dining Room (Protestant Chapel) had an open, wood-framed ceiling with pointed-arch masonry ribs. Drop ceilings were added circa 1962-63 in the corridor south of the Officer’s Dining Room (Catholic Chapel) and within the south wing.

Decorative Features & Trim



There did not appear to be any original hardware in the interior. The only extant original hardware was located on the exterior doors.