The Sunol Valley Water Temple, located on the Alameda Watershed near the town of Sunol, marks the confluence of three sources of water flowing into the Sunol Valley of southern Alameda County.
The 1910 beaux arts landmark, built by our predecessor the Spring Valley Water Company, was designed by renowned architect Willis Polk and modeled after the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy. The converging waters of Alameda Creek, Arroyo de la Laguna, and the Pleasanton Wells poured down into a tile basin at the temple bottom. Though the waters were once used for San Francisco’s water supply before construction of the Hetch Hetchy system, today only a small amount is diverted for local San Francisco Water, Power and Sewer uses and storage. The rest is released into Alameda Creek.
Visitors approach Sunol Temple on a long ceremonial drive lined with lilac bushes. A grove of Lombard poplars surrounds the temple, and a ridge of hills rises behind it.
The 60-foot-high Sunol Water Temple’s red tile roof rests on 12 Corinthian columns. Wedge-shaped paintings adorn the ceiling supported by elaborately decorated beams. The terra cotta roof elements were fabricated by Gladding McBean Tile Company of Los Angeles, and the painted wood ceiling was created by Yun Gee and other artists.
Sunol Water Temple was designated a California Historical Engineering Landmark in 1976 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The temple is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and closed on legal holidays. Dogs and other pets are not allowed on our watershed grounds, including Sunol Water Temple. For further information, call (650) 652-3212.
The temple is located at 505 Paloma Way, Sunol.
- From San Francisco and the Peninsula, take Highway 101 and cross the San Mateo Bridge, east to Highway 92
- Take 880 south toward San Jose
- Exit (right) at Alvarado-Niles Canyon Road which becomes Mission Boulevard
- Go past Union City and the town of Niles
- Turn left onto Niles Canyon Road (which is also CA-84). Continue on 84 (do not take Sunol exit to your left) until you see the Sunol Yard on your right. Turn right on Paloma Way, which leads to the Sunol Water Temple.