As handfuls of tiny squares of rice paper and salt crystals were strewn onto the steps of the old Union Church building in Little Tokyo, the edifice was rededicated as an arts center Tuesday in traditional Japanese style.
Renamed the Union Center for the Arts, the former church will house the East West Players, an Asian American drama troupe; Visual Communications, an Asian Pacific media arts center, and L.A. Artcore, a nonprofit contemporary arts organization.
"It's a pretty significant building," said Erich Nakano, a project manager with Little Tokyo Service Center, a nonprofit developer.
The three-story brick structure at 120 N. San Pedro Ave. in the Little Tokyo Historic District, was built in 1923, making it the first Christian church in Little Tokyo, Nakano said.
"The church itself moved in the late 1970s and has been vacant since," he said.
At the dedication ceremony, blessings representing a panorama of religions were performed by members of the Konko Church of Los Angeles (a Shinto-based church), the new Union Church and a Hawaiian dance troupe.