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The church survived the 1906 earthquake and fire - barely. The building suffered only minor damage in the earthquake, but was nearly destroyed by the firemen trying to stop the western advance of the flames. The firemen placed dynamite charges around the church, preparing to blow it up. The pastor of the church begged the firemen to try the fire hydrant across from the church. The firemen insisted that the earthquake had broken all the water pipes and that the hydrant wouldn't work. The pastor and the firemen nearly came to blows over it, but the firemen finally agreed to try the nearby hydrant. To their great surprise and to the pastor's great relief, the hydrant worked and the church building was saved. The basement of the church was then used as a soup kitchen and infirmary for quake victims.
In the 1989 earthquake, St. Mark's suffered much more damage. A beautiful chandelier donated by sugar heiress Alma Spreckles fell in the nave and the building itself took quite a structural hit.
The parish embarked on a long and expensive project to seismically upgrade the building and restore the interior. Also, earthquake aside, the organ was in poor repair, so the decision was made to replace the organ.
The exterior design of the church is rather stern and imposing, as witnessed in the photo below.
During the restoration, the original interior finishes were uncovered. In contrast to the stern exterior, the interior was soft and warm. The restored nave was finished in the original colors, but California seismic rules proscribed the Spreckles chandelier from being re-installed.
The new organ is a tracker organ is modeled after the organ played by another Lutheran organist of note: Johann Sebastian Bach at St. Thomas Kirche, Leipzig.