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HISTORIC CHURCHES : Los Angeles is rich in religious landmarks with exquisite or unusual architecture. Amongthem is one that stands in the middle of a cemetery and another that depicts a soldier in a tank in stained glass.

April 18, 1994|CECILIA RASMUSSEN and Source: Los Angeles Conservancy





* Oakwood Memorial Park

22601 Lassen St.


The oldest Protestant church in the San Fernando Valley sits on a cemetery knoll. It features a picturesque bell tower and classic New England church architecture. It originally stood at Topanga Boulevard near Devonshire Street and Western film stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were active members in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1965, after it was sold to the Chatsworth Historical Society, the church was moved to a private cemetery, which donated land. The congregation of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Catholic Episcopal Church took up residence in the 75-seat building in 1981.


ANGELS (1889)

* 1100 Avenue 64


This Episcopal church was erected as a memorial to British-born California landowner Alexander Robert Campbell-Johnston by his widow, Frances, in 1889. Designed by two British architects, it is set in a three-acre garden in a part of town once known as Garvanza, a name adapted from the garbanzo sweet pea. The church is built of sandstone hauled from quarries in the San Fernando Valley. A carved marble angel near the main entrance was a gift from construction workers.


SAVIOUR (1868)

* 535 W. Roses Road

San Gabriel

The oldest Protestant church in the San Gabriel Valley, this was also the first Episcopal church in Southern California. It features a post-World War II addition of a stained-glass window depicting a soldier in a tank and a bronze statue of a uniformed soldier stands in the courtyard. The unique testaments are to Gen. George S. Patton, whose family helped build the church.



* 2808 Altura St.

Lincoln Heights

An architectural jewel, this Episcopal church is in the middle of one of the city's first suburbs. Stone buttresses support a single gabled roof dominated by a large round window. The sparse interior houses a vintage organ with delicately hand-painted pipes.






* 355-369 E. 1st St.

Los Angeles

The oldest Buddhist temple in Los Angeles, this landmark brick building stands in the heart of Little Tokyo. It was built by some of Los Angeles' first Japanese immigrants after three Buddhist churches merged, forming a 2,000-member congregation. The front of the temple on Central Avenue has a mix of Asian and Egyptian motifs. During World War II, it was a storehouse for the belongings of many of the Japanese Americans who were interned in camps. Now it is home to the Japanese American National Museum.

6. PLAZA CHURCH (1862)

* 535 N. Main St.

Los Angeles

The mission-style Roman Catholic church, near Olvera Street in the center of old Downtown, is the city's oldest church. Construction funds were raised by auctioning seven barrels of brandy donated by the padres and 1,000 head of cattle. The original adobe structure was designed by Franciscan fathers and built by Native Americans in 1822. It was rebuilt in the Mission style in 1862. Its distinctive bell tower was erected in 1875 and the church itself was restored and enlarged in 1912.


CHURCH (1925)

* 2412 Griffith Ave.

Los Angeles

From humble beginnings in a stable near the old Downtown plaza near present-day Olvera Street, the church has been a significant force in the black community since its founding in 1885. The building was designed in the Lombard Romanesque style by Norman Marsh, who designed Abbott Kinney's Venice development, and by African American architect Paul R. Williams, who also designed Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Hotel.


CHURCH (1909)

* 1153 S. Valencia St.

Los Angeles

The first home of the Sinai Temple, the building became the Welsh Presbyterian Church when the synagogue moved in 1925. Still visible are the stars of David carved in stone in the side of the building. The Jewish congregation also left behind the original organ.


(1922) * 1100 Glendale Blvd.

Echo Park

In the 1920s and 1930s, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson preached her Foursquare Gospel within this circular building. Its design is based on the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. McPherson once explained that she was led by the Lord to the site "facing the entrance of peaceful Echo Park."



* 1946 Vedanta Place


The temple's fanciful facade features three onion-shaped domes topped with golden spires. In 1901, developer William Mead purchased four acres here as a rural retreat. Before he died in 1929, he deeded his property to the Vedanta Society of Southern California, founded as part of the older Ramakrishna Order of India. The temple is referred to by some as the "Little Taj."

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