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73 Years Ago: Gas Company Purchases Site at 8th & Flower, Home to Historic Church

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, at 02:18PM
First English Lutheran Church, 8th and Flower. Circa 1900-1910 USC Digital Archives / California Historical Society [digitallibrary.usc.edu]

The First English Lutheran Church stood on the corner of 8th and Flower from approximately 1887 until the 1930s.

On July 29, 1936, the Southern California Gas Company confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that it had bought the southeast corner of 8th and Flower for $125,000.

For the last 50 years, the site had been home to the First English Lutheran Church, but the corner the historic structure occupied was far different than the one it had been built on in the late 1880s.

At the time that the site was purchased, the L.A. Times said that the church's "ivy-covered walls have made [it] one of the best known landmarks in downtown Los Angeles."

The First English Lutheran Church was organized in Los Angeles on January 2nd, 1886. It began its worship on Main street, but by May of 1887 the fifty-member congregation had bought a lot at 8th and Flower for $5000.

The site was a long way from the center of town in 1887, but in 1923 the lots neighboring the church were a whirl of activity.

First Methodist Episcopal Church opened its new sanctuary at 8th and Hope on July 8, 1923. At $1.5 million, the structure was the denomination's most expensive church, with a four-story Sunday school building and an auditorium that sat 3,000 visitors.

On October 20, ground was broken just south of the Lutherans on a new headquarters for the Los Angeles Gas & Electric Company. When the new twelve-story structure was opened in January of 1925, it towered over the 1880s church.

After the sale, the church would move west of Downtown, building a new home at 6th and Shatto. That property is currently listed for sale.

In 1937, Los Angeles Gas and Electric merged with Southern California Gas Company, creating a single company that still exists by the latter name today.

When Southern California Gas finally built in 1940, it was on the south side of the L.A. Gas & Electric structure, not on the northern corner that the church building had occupied. Another six-story southern extension was put into use in 1953.

It wasn't until 1957 that work was started on the corner site. At that point the company constructed a $2.25 million, 13-story addition.

The company's headquarters stayed on the block until the 1980's. After an attempt to secure the entire block failed, the company ended up building its new home at 5th and Grand, where it remains based.

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