Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Tribute to "Mr. Chips"

If you've ever spent a few minutes in the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge, you may have noticed something peculiar. While most of the wood carvings around the Inn are impeccable, a stretch of wooden beams and cornices near the bar remain unfinished - bearing only the black marker outlines of what would have one day been carvings.
The late Alexander Zeller, a renowned Bavarian woodworker from Munich, Germany, was the artist responsible for the intricate wooden carvings throughout the Inn. Nicknamed "Mr. Chips," he had been commissioned by churches, public buildings, commercial businesses, and numerous individuals to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind works of art. In the early sixties, he was hired by Mr. and Mrs. Madonna to sculpt an array of wooden masterpieces for the newly-constructed Inn.
Unfortunately, Mr. Zeller fell ill shortly after the Inn's grand opening in 1961 and passed away before he was able to finish all his projects. Although this meant that the woodwork near the Silver Bar wouldn't be completed, Mr. and Mrs. Madonna felt that leaving the work unfinished was the proper tribute to "Mr. Chips."


  1. Enjoying the blog about "the Pink Place." I've always loved the Madonna Inn. We've traveled a lot and nothing compares! We had our wedding reception there in 1976. Perhaps we will celebrate our 39th anniversary there. Yes, pink is my favorite color!

  2. Alex Zeller was my neighbor for over 20 years in San Juan Bautista, Ca. When he passed away his wife Elfrieda gave me many of his old patterns, I'm sure the many grape cluster patterns are from the Madonna Inn. We heard many stories about the time he spent there carving. Glad to see this tribute to such a wonderful and talented man. If you really knew Alex, his beliefs were in this order, God, Country and Home!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.