AKA: First Congregational Church #5, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - religious structures - churches

Designers: Allison and Allison, Architects (firm); David Clark Allison (architect); James Edward Allison (architect)

Dates: constructed 1930-1932

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540 South Commonwealth Avenue
Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA 90020

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Building History

This was the fifth and latest church built by the 1st Congregational congregation in Los Angeles. The group dated back to the 1867, when the first sermon was delivered. The first church was erected in 1868, the second in 1883, the third in 1889, the fourth in 1903 and this one completed over a 15 month span between 1930 and 1932. Dr. Carl S. Patton (born 1866 in Greenville, MI), the son of a Congregationalist minister, presided over 1st Congregational group in two periods, the first from 1918-1927, the second from 1929- . He left Los Angeles the first time to enter the seminary at the University of Chicago to teach, but was coaxed back to the West Coast with the promise that the congregation would erect a splendid new church. This church, done in the English Gothic Style, was designed by the large Los Angeles firm of Allison and Allison. The Allison Brothers had designed a number of large churches in Southern CA during the 1920s, including large houses of worship for the Baptists (1927) and Unitarians (1928).

The congregation said on its web site of this church: "First Congregational Church of Los Angeles was founded in 1867 and is the oldest Protestant church in continuous service in Los Angeles. The present cathedral style building is the church's fifth home and was completed in 1932. It was designed by Los Angeles architects James E. and David C. Allison in the gothic revival style and built of reinforced concrete. The construction was very forward-looking for its day. Imbedded in the concrete are over 500 tons of steel bars. The entire structure, including Shatto Chapel and the Seaver Building, encompasses an area of 157,000 square feet. At its apex is a massive tower, which rises to a height of 157 feet. Its design is reminiscent of the tower of Oxford University's Magdalen College." (See 1st Congregational Church of Los Angeles, "Where We Gather," accessed 04/04/2018.)

Building Notes

In 1942, this was the largest Congregational Church in the US.

Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument: 706

PCAD id: 18557