Structure Type: built works - religious structures - churches

Designers: Coxhead, Ernest, Architect (firm); Street, Arthur Edmund, Architect (firm); Almeric William Sylvester Coxhead (architect); Ernest Albert Coxhead (architect); Arthur Edmund Street (architect)

Dates: constructed 1889-1889

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1100 Avenue 64
Highland Park, Pasadena, CA 91105

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This building served as a memorial to a wealthy English citizen--Alexander Campbell-Johnston--who had died while on a visit to 2,200-acre property he owned, San Rafael Ranch, in Southern California. He and his wife bought the acreage in 1883, and left three of their sons to manage the ranch. Alexander passed away on 01/21/1888, and his widow, Francis, decided to build a memorial church in his honor, then well outside Pasadena's city limits, in a little hamlet called Garvanza. The noted London architect Arthur Edmund Street (1855-1938), designed the sandstone-faced building, to reflect 11th-century English parish church prototypes. The English-born architects, Ernest Coxhead (1863-1933) and his brother, Alemeric, (1862-1928), adapted the plans to the site and supervised its construction. Sandstone of the exterior walls was brought from a quarry in the San Fernando Valley.

Building History

The church's web site discussed the building's history: "The cornerstone of The Church of the Angels was laid Easter Eve, April 20, 1889, and the church consecrated on St. Michael and All Angels Day, September 29 of the same year. The church is patterned after Holmbury St Mary's Church, near Dorking, Surrey, England, although it is not an exact copy. It is set in a garden of three acres and is faced with sandstone that was hauled from quarries in the San Fernando valley. The San Rafael Ranch, of which Garvanza was a part, supplied the red stone that was incorporated into the structure. A 44-foot stone tower, characteristic of the 11th century, houses an eight-day Seth Thomas clock that denotes the hours by striking a bell suspended in the belfry. The stone sundial and its landscaped heart-shaped setting is a memorial to Mrs. Campbell-Johnston, donated by her sons. The interior walls of the church are of red pressed brick, and the ceiling is of redwood, both of which have mellowed through the years to give a soft warmth." (See Church of the Angels, "History of the Church of the Angels," accessed 09/28/2016.)

A contemporary article in the Los Angeles Herald noted that the first bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Northern California Diocese, John Henry Ducachet Wingfield (1833-1898), journeyed to Pasadena to consecrate the new Church of the Angels:"Bishop Wingfield will be here next Sunday to consecrate the Memorial Church of the Angels at Garvanza, that has been built by Mrs. Campbell-Johnston." (See “Church Notes,” Los Angeles Herald, vol. 32, no. 165, 09/23/1889, p. 2.)

Building Notes

The interior had roof framing members of redwood timbers and walls of pressed brick.


On the morning of 01/13/2018, vandals damaged a statue on Church of the Angels grounds, sprayed graffitti on the church's sandstone exterior, forced their way inside, and set a fire that destroyed an antique wooden statue. The web site Pasadena News reported on 01/13/2018: "A 129-year-old, strikingly beautiful West Pasadena church suffered major damage and the loss of at least one significant historical statue after a vandal or vandals broke in early Saturday morning, spray painted graffiti, destroyed property and set fire to the structure.Although the fire was quickly extinguished by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, the Church of the Angels, at 1100 Avenue 64, suffered major damage from the assault, Pasadena Fire Dept. spokesperson Lisa Derderian said. The fire was reported by a 911 caller in the neighborhood who saw smoke at about 2:20 a.m. A Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesperson said 41 firefighters knocked down the blaze in 14 minutes." (See Pasadena News, "Vandals Damage, Set Fire to West Pasadena’s Historic Church of the Angels," accessed 01/14/2018.) Other news organizations reported that police were looking for multiple suspects.

PCAD id: 7868