blogdowntown 89.3 KPCC | Southern California Public Radio

Stay Connected

@blogdowntown on Twitter
blogdowntown on Facebook


Downtown's Churches: First Congregational

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 11, 2008, at 06:34AM
First Congregational Church California Historical Society: TICOR/Pierce []

The church was on Hope between 8th and 9th from 1903 - 1932.

First Congregational Church has been located west of Downtown at 6th and Commonwealth since 1932. That sort of stability hides the fact that the church was once a prolific site-hopper. Between 1867 and 1902, the congregation dedicated four new buildings, occupying sites on New High, 3rd, 6th and Hope.

The congregation built its first building on New High, north of Temple. It bought the lot in May of 1867 and held its first service in the small building on November 29th of that year.

It wasn't long before the growing congregation needed a bigger home, and a new structure at 3rd & Hill was opened on April 29th, 1883. It was in the Gothic architectural style, and had seating for 425.

Only five years later the body sold that site, meeting in a temporary location before dedicating their new home on the southwest corner of 6th & Hill on November 13, 1889. This building was of Renaissance architecture, and had seating for 1200.

Again the church got the itch to move, and in November of 1901 it sold the 6th & Hill site to Judge Charles Silent for $77,500. That same month it bought two lots on the west side of Hope, between 8th and 9th. The Times noted that the site was within one block of eight other churches, and across the street from the Jewish temple B'nai B'rith.

Plans for the new structure were approved in February of 1902, and the building was finally dedicated on July 19th, 1903. With seating for 1600, it was the largest church in the city at that time.

In October of 1904, the Times noted an interesting potential sale for the body's vacated home at 6th & Hill. The building would be sold to two different congregations, with the Society of Christian Scientists buying the auditorium and the West Adams Methodist Episcopal Church buying the rear sections. Both would move their parts of the split structure to other locations.

On April 11th, 1927, Mrs. Clara R. Shatto donated a $400,000 piece of property to the church. The new site, on 6th at Commonwealth, is the church's current home. The first service in that site was held on March 13th, 1932.

The fate of the Hope street site is unclear, but it did have a briefly interesting moment. In 1945 it was used as offices and rehearsal space for the WPA's Federal Theater Project, bringing vaudeville back to life as employment for actors on the dole.


Tweet This Story || Share on Facebook

Related Topics