Back to Schedule

    Project Overview

    The dreams I have had, and have worked for, God has fulfilled — and much more than I had planned. It is because Mt. Washington Center has always striven to be the instrument of God that those plans have been realized.

    Paramahansa Yogananda

    As a sacred spiritual home of our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, and center of his worldwide work, the Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters (IHQ) has been a beloved pilgrimage site for nearly 100 years.

    Since 1925, when Paramahansaji established this ashram center, it has been fulfilling the purpose expressed in his words: “A place of divine communion ― that is what Mt. Washington is going to be.” Visitors often tell us of the soul-upliftment, peace, and inspiration they experience at the International Headquarters, also known as the Mother Center.

    We know how important it is to all of you in our worldwide spiritual family to preserve this truly unique legacy site, where Paramahansa Yogananda lived and communed with the Divine for more than 25 years.

    PY P 3404 03 For Homepage
    Digitally colored image of Paramahansa Yogananda, produced by Self-Realization Fellowship in 2023 from an original black-and-white photograph in SRF’s archives, which was taken at SRF Mother Center in 1934

    Built in 1909, the International Headquarters Building (IHQ) is well over a century old, and its systems and structure have aged considerably. We have therefore been preparing plans for a number of years to implement essential seismic and fire-safety upgrades to this historic building, and make improvements to the surrounding site.

    It is a great joy to share that we are working with the City of Los Angeles to obtain all necessary permits and approvals for the life-safety retrofit and rehabilitation of the International Headquarters.

    We invite you to join us in praying for this project, as we prepare for the Mother Center’s next century of sharing the enduring legacy of our great Guru, who lovingly created this sanctuary of beauty and harmony for all.

    On these grounds I have so meditated and loved God that whoever walks through these gates with a receptive heart will be changed.

    Paramahansa Yogananda
    Mother Center Meditation Gardens
    Meditation Gardens

    Project Scope and Details

    The retrofit and rehabilitation project focuses primarily on the historic International Headquarters Building, the Cable Car Building, and surrounding grounds. In addition, there will be a small Garden Shrine for meditation, which will be a special place of tribute to Paramahansa Yogananda.

    One of the most respected firms specializing in rehabilitation of historic buildings in Southern California, Pfeiffer Partners Architects, will oversee the project. Among their most well-known accomplishments are the renovation of the Griffith Observatory and the Los Angeles Central Library.

    IHQ Retrofit Project Timeline color legend website
    Project Scope Icons
    Clockwise from top left: International Headquarters Building, Cable Car Building, Garden Shrine, Surrounding Grounds

    International Headquarters Building

    Paramahansa Yogananda dedicated the SRF International Headquarters on October 25, 1925. Due to the cultural significance of the site, it was listed as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 2006.

    Plans for the International Headquarters building focus on five main areas:

    1. Essential Seismic Upgrades

    Repeated earthquakes have challenged the long-term integrity of the International Headquarters building over its more than 100-year span. Retrofitting of its foundation and support structure is required to preserve it for future generations.

    Collapsed chimney and fireplace in IHQ Main Hall
    Repair work of fireplace in IHQ Main Hall after the chimney collapsed in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake

    The building was originally constructed in 1909 with an unreinforced masonry foundation. While this method was common at the time, it is no longer permitted under current building codes, as it is unable to withstand seismic activity in Southern California.

    Building resting on unreinvorced masonry foundation
    Building resting on unreinforced masonry foundation

    Our plans include replacement of the unreinforced masonry with a concrete foundation, all within the original footprint of the building.

    Aside from a new foundation, the building needs additional reinforcement to withstand future earthquakes, so structural elements will be added to the walls, floors, and roof to provide strength. These elements will not be visible once the rehabilitation is complete.

    2. Additional Fire-Safety Upgrades

    The retrofit will also include the installation of a sprinkler system (a first in the lifetime of the building) and a new fire alarm system.

    3. Accessibility

    We will improve ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access with the addition of a new ramp to the entry porch, and a new elevator providing access to the second and third floors.

    4. Upgrades to Building Infrastructure

    The existing electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems within the International Headquarters Building have exceeded their life cycle and will be replaced as part of the project. To make better use of the space within the building, primary mechanical equipment will be located in a new mechanical plant. A new utility tunnel will route lines from this central plant up to the International Headquarters Building.

    Broken pipes
    Original cast iron pipes which cracked (arrows) and had to be replaced

    As the International Headquarters Building undergoes the seismic retrofit, all changes and upgrades to the building will meet current codes, including the recently updated California Energy Code.

    5. Preservation of Historic Features

    Significant care will be given to preserving historically relevant features of the building. Paramount is the preservation of Paramahansa Yogananda’s living quarters, commonly referred to as the “Shrine Rooms,” in line with Smithsonian Institute's standards for material preservation.

    Paramahansa Yoganandas sitting room at the IHQ
    Paramahansa Yogananda’s sitting room at the International Headquarters, one of the shrine rooms

    Architectural features considered historically significant will be preserved in the main hall, chapel, and library.

    In addition, a special exhibit room in another area on the first floor will be dedicated to telling the story of Paramahansa Yogananda’s remarkable life and historic mission through creative interactive exhibits, and inspiring displays of artifacts and personal items.

    Main Hall of the International Headquarters Building
    Main Hall of the International Headquarters Building

    Cable Car Building

    Paramahansa Yogananda With Cable Car Building 1934 color
    Digitally colored image of Paramahansa Yogananda in front of the Cable Car Building, produced by Self-Realization Fellowship in 2024 from an original black-and-white photograph in SRF’s archives, which was taken at the Mother Center in 1934

    The Cable Car Building, located at the end of the main driveway, was built in the same year as the Mt. Washington Hotel, and originally served as the hilltop station of the cable car system that provided access to the hotel from the bottom of the hill.

    During its more than 100-year history, the building has served several different functions, including most recently as office space for SRF. As per consultation with the City’s Office of Historic Resources, reconstruction is required because the building has no foundation and extensive wood rot that is unrepairable and unsafe. Upon completion the Cable Car Building will be ADA compliant and inclusive of fully accessible rooms for the first time.

    Cable Car Building Draft

    Surrounding Grounds

    Surrounding Grounds 2023 04 05 023937 ikmp

    The project also includes necessary upgrades to the surrounding grounds:

    • Addressing the instability of the hillside surrounding the historic buildings;
    • Replacement of current garden and maintenance workshops with new buildings — their foundations will help stabilize the hillside;
    • New maintenance path to reduce related traffic on San Rafael Avenue and Rome Drive;
    • ADA access to the gardens for the first time in the history of the site;
    • ADA upgrades to the Visitor's Center (ramp and restroom);
    • New visitor entry kiosk;
    • Upgrades to the existing entry gate.

    Garden Shrine

    Still Image Shrine Sequence Final Image 0000 Ultra aya
    Rendering of the future Garden Shrine nestled in the meditation gardens

    A small Garden Shrine of about 500 square feet will be added within the existing meditation gardens, for quiet reflection and meditation. It will be a special place of tribute to Paramahansa Yogananda.

    Shortly after his passing, in 1952, Paramahansa Yogananda’s body was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, where it has remained ever since. However, as was shared in the May-June 1952 issue of Self-Realization magazine, this location for his body was considered temporary, "until arrangements can be made for its permanent enshrinement on the...grounds of the SRF headquarters on Mt. Washington.”

    Our hope is that in the future the Garden Shrine will be that final resting place — a memorial to share with all those whose lives have been touched by the great Guru.

    Garden Shrine floor plan and Shrine West side combined
    The Mother Center meditation gardens with the future Garden Shrine (on the right)

    We welcome your support of the IHQ Retrofit & Rehabilitation Project. Please use the link below if you would like to make a gift now.

    Thank you!

    International Headquarters History

    Heavenly Father...may a portable heaven be established in the breast of each one who comes here to seek Thee. Mt. Washington, thou art hallowed by the beloved ones here. May this place bring forth those who love God.

    Paramahansa Yogananda

    In December of 1924, after spending several years teaching in Boston and other East Coast cities, Paramahansa Yogananda arrived in Los Angeles. His message immediately attracted favorable response — thousands attended his lectures at the Philharmonic Auditorium downtown.

    He had come to this vibrant West Coast city at the end of a transcontinental lecture series; and said to some of his students who were helping him: “Let us look for a place here in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, where we can establish a center. I find a very wonderful spiritual vibration here.”

    He and a small group of his students had driven up to the sylvan area of Mt. Washington to look at a small property, and eventually passed a large old building that was once the fashionable Mt. Washington Hotel.

    Mt Washington Hotel circa 1909
    Postcard rendering of Mt. Washington Hotel, circa 1909

    When I first visited Los Angeles, and saw the large building on the crest of Mount Washington, I recognized it at once.

    Paramahansa Yogananda

    Paramahansa Yogananda was intrigued. He stood along the front drive looking up at the vacant but grand old building, and said, “This place feels like ours!” The Guru later explained, “Long ago, while I was traveling in Kashmir, I saw this building in a vision. Years later, when I came to Los Angeles and saw this place, I recognized it as the building in my vision, and knew that God intended it to be ours.”

    Built in 1909, the former hotel — with its breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles to the south and the San Gabriel Mountains to the northeast — was a favorite location for the movie industry elite. However, the center of the film industry moved to Hollywood and elsewhere in the city, and the hotel was eventually forced to close. For a short time it served as a military school, and a convalescent hospital before becoming vacant.

    Paramahansa Y Ogananda in front of the newly acquired building in 1925
    Paramahansa Yogananda in front of the newly acquired building in 1925

    With the help of his generous students, and two mortgages shouldered by the Guru, in 1925 the Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters was established.

    The Early Years at Mt. Washington

    Entrance to the Mother Center in 1926
    Entrance to the Mother Center, in 1926

    Having a permanent base for his spiritual work enabled Paramahansa Yogananda to reach more and more truth seekers.

    It was from the International Headquarters that he published his teachings, including the printed Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons for home study.

    1936 PY 3615 30 02 cropped
    Paramahansa Yogananda with disciples and guests at the SRF International Headquarters celebrating the New Year, 1937

    Paramahansa Yogananda transformed this abandoned property into a beautiful spiritual sanctuary for visitors, neighbors, and residents alike. Under his direction, the site became a haven of tranquility featuring park-like grounds, majestic trees, and meditation gardens — a sanctuary of peace and harmony in bustling Los Angeles.

    Deer statues at MC

    We invite you to visit our International Headquarters

    3880 San Rafael Avenue
    Los Angeles, CA 90065
    Phone: (323) 225-2471

    Google Maps

    General Opening Hours

    Meditation Grounds

    • Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Sunday: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
    • Closed on Mondays and holidays

    Visitors Center & Main Building

    • Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Sunday: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
    • Closed on Mondays and holidays

    Virtual Tour

    We invite you to take a virtual pilgrimage to this beautiful and uplifting site

    So many memories flood my heart as I look back over my years in Guruji's beloved Mount Washington, which he gave so much of himself to establish, and which it is our sacred privilege to preserve as a shrine — the spiritual home of his countless followers throughout the world.

    Sri Daya Mata, president of SRF/YSS from 1955 to 2010

    Originally created for our first online World Convocation gathering in 2020, the photos in this comprehensive tour include many of the unique features of the grounds and historic buildings, as well as the Shrine Rooms and the personal effects of Paramahansa Yogananda.

    Mother Center front entrance


    If you have any additional questions or for media inquiries, please feel free to contact us:

    (323) 225-2471
    9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)


    Media Contacts
    Lauren Landress:
    Blythe Fraser:

    Why is SRF undertaking this project?

    Our International Headquarters Building is over 100 years old and as much as we have cared for it over the years, it is now in need of significant life-safety upgrades, including fire sprinklers, seismic strengthening, and Americans with Disabilities Act access upgrades. By enhancing the functionality and beauty of the site, we will ensure that it continues to benefit SRF/YSS members and friends, as well as our neighbors on Mt. Washington, serving as a sanctuary of peace and harmony for all who visit.

    When will construction begin?

    We anticipate the permitting process to take one to two years, and the earliest construction could begin is sometime after that.

    How long will the project take?

    According to best estimates, structural work and construction on the exterior enclosures of the buildings associated with the project should be completed in approximately two years. Interior work within the buildings will take approximately one year, some of which may overlap with the exterior work.

    How will the project impact neighbors?

    In the short run, SRF is aware that all construction has the potential to impact neighbors, and we are committed to minimizing any impacts to the greatest extent possible. But in the long run, the project will not result in any increased site capacity for visitors, employees, or residents, so we do not anticipate any long-term impacts.

    Will the grounds be open during construction?

    Unfortunately, the grounds will be closed during construction. However, we welcome you to visit our temples and grounds in Hollywood and Glendale, as well as the beautiful SRF Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades. For information about our local temples, please visit our locations page.

    Will the project result in more use of the site, or increased living accommodations?

    Since the project will not result in any increased site capacity for visitors, employees, or residents, we do not anticipate any long-term impacts, increased use of the site, or living accommodations.

    How will the site improvements change traffic coming up the hill?

    Some construction traffic will be unavoidable. However, we will be implementing a detailed Construction Management Plan to assist with traffic circulation. Since the project is not designed to accommodate additional residents, employees or visitors, we do not foresee any long-term traffic impacts upon completion.

    Is SRF going to continue hosting neighborhood events and activities?

    Yes! Until construction begins, we plan to continue with our special events and activities. After construction ends and the site is safe for visitors again, we will reopen the gardens for the community to enjoy and we look forward to welcoming you.

    Easter egg hunt for neighborhood children at Mother Center v2
    Easter egg hunt for neighborhood children at the Mother Center


    Wishing Well Mount Washington
    "Spiritual Wishing Well” on the grounds of the SRF Mother Center

    Few know this little haven is here, let alone how to reach it. But navigate your way through Highland Park, up Mt. Washington and down the long driveway, and you’ll find yourself in a maze of impeccably tended gardens, shaded and serene….Visitors today are invited to come for meditation and reflection.

    Los Angeles Times

    Accessed through narrow, winding roads ascending the mountain, the journey itself feels like a pilgrimage. This beautifully landscaped, tranquil oasis overlooking the sprawling city below feels remarkably remote and instantly calm….There is a very special quality of tranquility at the [SRF] Mother Center, an extraordinary, palpable presence of peace.

    Carol Sutherland, PhD (The Whole Person)

    Something special happens when you walk through the gates of the Self-Realization Fellowship’s international headquarters….The breeze feels more gentle, the sky looks more blue, and the immaculate flower beds glow with a unique intensity. Take a seat by the koi pond, or the outdoor ‘temple of leaves,’ and join other visitors in silent meditation.

    Los Angeles Times

    The headquarters, also known as the 'Mother Center,' boast beautiful meditation grounds that radiate peace and serenity.

    Atlas Obscura

    I simply appreciated what [Self-Realization Fellowship’s] presence added to Mt. Washington. They're quiet and respectful of their neighbors. They keep their grounds immaculate. I love the fact that they open their gardens to the rest of us for meditation or simply a walk to enjoy the incredible view and the gorgeous grounds.

    B.J. Gallagher, author (in Huffington Post)

    There at the top of the mountain, on a residential street of uncommon flowering beauty, were the gates to a whole other world.


    How You Can Help

    Be a Part of the IHQ Retrofit & Rehabilitation Project!

    The sacred grounds of our International Headquarters are permeated with Paramahansaji’s ever-living presence, blessing all who come here and radiating his powerful and uplifting spiritual influence worldwide. I invite you to join us in prayerful support of this project, as we prepare for the Mother Center’s next century of sharing the enduring legacy of our great Guru.

    Brother Chidananda, president and spiritual head of Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India

    Project Timeline

    SRF IHQ Timeline for Website Feb 2024

    The International Headquarters, also known to members as the Mother Center, is a sacred site, consecrated by Paramahansa Yogananda who lived, worked, and communed with God here during a span of more than 25 years. It is from here that he also disseminated the liberating science of Kriya Yoga throughout the world.

    Today, the SRF International Headquarters continues to be the center of our Guru’s worldwide work, as well as home to many of our monastics, and a sacred pilgrimage site for members and friends from around the world.

    We are very grateful for your caring and support for the preservation of our Guru’s divine home. Many of you have asked how you can help with the SRF International Headquarters Retrofit & Rehabilitation Project. Please know that your assistance is vitally important and deeply appreciated.

    If you wish to offer your support at this time, we welcome you to help in the following ways:

    • Keep the Mother Center and this project in your prayers
    • Share this website with others for their information
    • Consider making a monetary donation to help defray the costs of the project

    Please note that we are planning a formal fundraising campaign for this project. If you would like to know more, we would be happy to talk with you directly. You are welcome to contact us — TEL: (323) 576-3999; EMAIL:

    Add your name to stay informed about the Retrofit & Rehabilitation Project

    Through this project, as a spiritual family we are coming together to ensure the safety and preservation of the beloved Mother Center for the ages.

    We extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation for all that you do.

    Thank you!

    Mother Center Arial at sunset 2

    Mount Washington! Thy crown shall newly wear a priceless starry jewel — a school of life — which, for all future, here shall draw lost travelers from East and West, to find their Goal, their own One Place of rest.”

    Paramahansa Yogananda