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A distinguished landmark of San Francisco, the Old Temple is located on the corner of Webster and Filbert Streets in the Cow Hollow district. It was built in 1905 by Swami Trigunatitananda (Trigunatita) of the Ramakrishna Order of India. The swami wanted to build a Hindu temple that represented the influx of India’s great spiritual wisdom into the culture of the West and yet was universal in its approach. After it was built, he referred to it as: “The first Hindu temple in the whole Western world dedicated to the cause of humanity.” Swami Trigunatita wrote that: “This temple may be considered as a combination of a Hindu temple, a Christian church, a Mohammedan mosque, a Hindu math or monastery, and an American residence.”
In 2018 the Old Temple received a California Heritage Council award, which honors those “historic buildings and sites whose owners have significantly enhanced the historic values of their properties by appropriate preservation, restoration, or re-use.” In 2017 the temple was one of fifteen “magnificent building projects” to receive the North American Copper in Architecture Award (NACIA).
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