CHURCHES IN LOS ANGELES IN 1890
The Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church has in Los Angeles four edifices, with a fifth in process of construction. The Church of Our Lady of the Angels, at the Plaza on Main street, was built in 1821'25, for the special use of the Spanish soldiers. In 1841 the building was greatly improved, and in 1862 it was frescoed and ornamented, and the grounds were laid out and planted. By 1870 the membership of this parish had so increased that the Cathedral was erected from it. The seating capacity is about 600. The parish is presided over by Rev. Peter Verdaguer, assisted by Revs. P. Groghan and J. Denier.
The Cathedral of Saint Vibiana was built in 1871'76, being opened for public service on April 9, Palm Sunday, of the latter year; the formal dedication, conducted by Archbishop Alemany, took place on the 30th of that month. This church is 80 x 160 feet, with a seating capacity of 3,000. The style of architecture is similar to that of Puerto de San Miguel, at Barcelona, Spain. The decorations are fine. The erection of this edifice is due mainly to the energies of Dr. Amat, Bishop Mora, and Father Verdaguer. The parish is now a very large one; its rector is the Very Rev. J. Adam, assisted by Revs. M. Liebarne, P. Garvin and A. J. Allen. Right Rev. Francis Mora is the Bishop of the diocese.
The Church of St. Vincent de Paul was established in 1887, under the administration of Father A. J. Meyer, the present rector. The building is 46 x 110 feet, and the tower is 120 feet high. More than a hundred families worship here.
St. Joseph's Church, German, was erected in 1889. It is 32 x 70 feet, and is two stories in height, being ultimately designed for a school building, on the completion of a new church near by. About 300 families worship at this temple, services having been inaugurated last January. Rev. Joseph Florian Bartsch is the pastor.
The Church of the Sacred Heart, East Los Angeles, is not yet completed. This parish was organized about the middle of 1888, by Rev. P. Harnett, whose flock comprises about 180 families.
RIGHT REV. FRANCIS MORA, Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey and Los Angeles, was born in the city of Vich, in Catalonia, a province of Spain, November 25, 1827, and was thus by birth a fellow-countryman of many of the most energetic missionaries in California, Texas and Florida. It was therefore natural that a taste for foreign missions should early have been awakened in him. Although at the early age of three years he lost his parents, he was cared for by devoted servants of the church, and in early youth devoted himself to the service of God in the sanctuary and to the studies of Latin, philosophy and theology in the Episcopal Seminary of Vich, in Spain.
In 1854 Bishop Amat went to Spain in order to obtain assistants in ministerial work here. In response to his appeal at Vich, young Francis offered his services, and, without waiting to receive priestly orders, accompanied the Bishop across the Atlantic. After remaining in the State of Missouri for a time to familiarize himself with the English language, he came on to California in 1855, and March 19, 1856, at Santa Barbara, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Amat and placed in charge of the Monterey parish. Subsequently he was rector of the parishes at San Juan Bautista, Pajaro Vale and San Luis Obispo.
In 1862 the parish of Los Angeles was deprived of its Vicar General by the death of Father Blas Raho, and the next year Father Mora was chosen by Bishop Amat to be the rector of the pro-cathedral of Los Angeles, and July 25, 1866, Vicar-General of the diocese. Afterward, when the Bishop required the services of a coadjutor, he selected Rev. Mora for the see of Mosynopolis, May 20, 1873.
On the 12th of May, 1878, Dr. Amat died, and Bishop Mora at once succeeded him, as he had been appointed coadjutor with the right of succession. He has followed the steps of his illustrious predecessor, and under his fostering care young Levites have been educated in different colleges of Europe or in the seminaries of the United States, and brought here to work in Christ's vineyard. At his invitation the Sisters of St. Joseph opened an academy at San Diego, and last year a parochial school in St. Vincent's parish in this city. He invited also last year the Dominican Sisters, who opened a convent at Anaheim. Under his energetic zeal new parishes have been formed here in Los Angeles and throughout the whole diocese. He is a man that never spares himself, but he is at the service of those who call upon him from morning till night.
Some years ago, as he was going to administer confirmation to the Indians, he met with a painful accident that put his life in great danger, and he felt the effects of it for two years afterward. His voyage to Europe in 1886 enabled him to recover his forces, so that nowadays he is in full vigor.
Episcopal. On May 4, 1859, Rev. William E. Boardman formed an organization under the name of " First Protestant Society," with a constitution declaring that its members "unite for the purpose of supporting Protestant worship here;" the signers were Isaac S. K. Ogler, William McKee, A. J. King, C. Sims, Charles S. Adams, William S. Morrow, D. McLaren, Thomas Foster, William H. Shore and N. A. Potter. In 1864 this society built the church located on the corner of Temple and New High streets, and shortly after they reorganized under the title of the Saint Athanasius Episcopal Church, to which association the edifice was transferred.
Early in 1857, there being no Episcopalian clergyman in the vicinity of Los Angeles, the Right Rev. William Ingraham Kip, Bishop of California, authorized and licensed Dr. Matthew Carter to act as " Lay reader " for the district. The first services were held in the rooms of the Mechanics' Institute, Sunday evening, July 19, 1857, Dr. Carter reading the services, and Rev. Dr. Smith, at that time president of Princeton College, New Jersey, preaching the sermon. The church, organized August 23, 1857, under the name of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, for some years held services in a rented building.
Worship was continued in the old building until Christmas day, 1883, when services were begun in the new church on Olive street, the old church having been sold to the county, which still uses it for offices. In 1884 the name of the society was changed to "St. Paul's Church;" it now comprises about 500 communicants. The pastors of this church have been: Elias Birdsall, J. J. Talbot, H. H. Messenger, C. F. Loop, J. B. Gray, William H. Hill; and since 1880, Elias Birdsall. In East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, Episcopal Churches have been established as offshoots of St. Paul's; and at least three missions have been under its supervision. There are the Ellis avenue and Alpine branches of the St. Paul's Sunday-school and the St. Barnabas mission at Vernondale.
Methodist. The first Methodist sermon in Los Angeles was preached by Rev. J. W. Brier, June, 1850, at the residence of John G. Nichols, an adobe where the court-house now stands. Mr. Brier had come to California in 1849, by the Salt Lake route. At Death valley, on the desert, he had to put his wife and two children on an ox, and he traveled on foot, thus entering Los Angeles. In 1853 Rev. Adam Bland was sent by the California Conference [of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North] to this, the "Southern California Mission." At this time, Mr. Bland and J. W. Potts constituted the entire membership. In those early days the meetings were held in the court-house. The church edifice of this society, when erected on Fort street, cost $18,000, but afterward $14,000 was spent on improvements. On account of the rise in real estate, the property, in October, 1888, was valued at $75,000. The membership has varied greatly on account of spasmodic impulses of immigration and the formation of separate churches, but the number at present is about 1,400. The Methodist Episcopal denomination has also various other congregations in Los Angeles: Grace Church, with some 200 members, and a local habitation valued at some $25,000; the Main Street Church, organized as a theater in 1885, now owning property worth some $2,000; the University Church, which is more especially for the accommodation of the teachers and students of that institution; Vincent Church, with a seating capacity of about 800, was organized May, 1889; Bellevue Avenue Church, organized in 1887, which now has property valued at $6,500 and some 180 members; the Central Avenue Church, organized in 1888, whose edifice is not yet finished; the Asbury Church in East Los Angeles, which has about 260 members; Boyle Heights Church, whose membership since four years past, has increased from eighteen to 150; the German Church, which, when organized in 1876, had nine members, now has 130, with property worth $6,000; the Los Angeles German Methodist Episcopal Mission, with three "appointments;" the Swedish Church, organized in 1887 with thirteen members, now comprising forty-seven, and being in such a flourishing condition as to contemplate the speedy erection of a church building. Such are the institutions which have grown out of the first assemblage of those of this faith in Los Angeles.
As early as 1871-'72, ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South began to preach in Los Angeles and vicinity. At first the meetings were held in private houses and in the old county court-house, and later, in a rented hall on Main street. In 1873 this sect effected a permanent organization, Rev. A. M. Campbell being the first pastor. In 1875 the first church building of this society, the original "Trinity " Church, was erected on Spring street, between First and Second streets. This old church was sold later, and in 1885 was built the present handsome edifice, costing $50,000, while the organ cost $4,000. In the same year the Bellevue Avenue Church was organized from this congregation, and since then three other new churches have been organized from the congregation and under the auspices of Trinity, two of these having been beautiful and commodious houses of worship. The Pasadena congregation worships in a rented hall. Some 325 souls remain as the congregation of the main old society of Trinity, and this number is steadily increasing.
The German Evangelical Association was organized in 1884; it now contains about seventy-five members, and has a church building, erected in 1885, with a fine parsonage.
An African Methodist Episcopal Church formerly existed in Los Angeles. The colored people of this denomination first held services at the house of Robert Owen (" Uncle Bob") in 1854. In 1869 a church was organized and a building erected. The first members of this congregation were Mrs. Winnie Owen ("Aunt Winnie "), Mrs. B. Mason and Miss Alice Coleman. The Wesley Chapel (colored) was organized August 24, 1888, with twenty three members and eighteen probationers; now there are fifty-six members and seventeen probationers. Services are held in a hall on Los Angeles street; Rev. F. H. Tubbs (white) has been the pastor of this body from its beginning.
Presbyterian. In November, 1854, the first Presbyterian service was held by Rev. James Woods, in a little carpenter shop on Main street, where the Pico House now stands. The first permanent organization of the First Presbyterian Church was in March, 1855. In the old adobe building on Spring street, Mr. Woods held regular services for one year; when organized there were just twelve members. Mr. H. D. Barrows furnished music with his flute, and there was singing. This church assisted in the erection of the old St. Athanasius Church on Temple and New High streets, and held services therein for some years, when they were refunded the money contributed for its erection, and the building became the exclusive property of the Episcopalian congregation. In 1888 this church had some 800 members, of whom about 100 went to form Immanuel Church soon after; but new members are constantly joining. The house of worship is a fine, large edifice on the corner of Fort and Second streets.
The First United Presbyterian Church was organized April 26, 1883, with fifteen members; now it has about seventy. The house and parsonage are worth about $800.
The Boyle Heights Presbyterian Church was organized May 3, 1885, with eighteen members; it now has 130, and the church edifice, built in that year, cost $3,500, exclusive of the donated lots.
The Second Presbyterian Church in East Los Angeles, was organized some six years since, and it now has some 150 members. It has a building 45 x50 feet.
Bethany Presbyterian Church has increased from thirty-one to seventy-eight members since its organization, December 28, 1887. It has a building with a seating capacity of 250 in the main room, and fifty in the infant-class room.
Congregational. In April, 1865, when Los Angeles was visited by Rev. J. H. Warren, D. D., from the American Home Missionary Society, there was not in the city a Protestant minister, Sunday-school, nor house of worship. There had been here ministers of all denominations, except Congregationalists, but they had all gone away. At the instance of this society, Rev. Alexander Parker began services of the Congregational Church in Los Angeles on July 7, 1866, preaching in the court-house. In May, 1867, a lot was bought, and on July 27, 1867, a church was organized with six members. The building, dedicated in the same year, was erected on New High street. Several church buildings were successively built and sold by this society, until the erection of the present fine edifice, which cost some $72,000, and whose seating capacity is near 1,500.
The Second or Park Congregational Church was organized June, 1884, as a mission Sunday-school, the church proper coming into existence the following October. The first organized congregation was in a tent. In 1886 a building, costing $700, was erected. In 1888 the present building, which is only a wing of the church to be constructed in the future, was occupied. The cost of the main building is to be $10,000.
The Third Congregational Church was organized in 1884, after a series of meetings held in the neighborhood for several months. The membership has increased from sixteen to thirty. The building, whose seating capacity is 350, was erected in 1883, at a cost of $3,500, on the corner of Railroad and North Main streets.
The East Los Angeles Congregational Church was organized March 20. 1887, with thirty-two members, the list having grown now to some 200. The church edifice cost some $10,000; it was dedicated March 11, 1888. Added to it, at a cost of $2,100, is a gymnasium and reading room, in which is the headquarters of the "Phillips Club," an association of young men which is named for the pastor. This is said to be the most flourishing church in that beautiful suburb. The society has no debt, moreover.
The Vernon Congregational Church, south of the city, with a membership of about eighty has a building which cost some $4,000. This society was first started as a Sunday-school.
The West End Congregational is a small society in the west of the city.
Baptist. The Baptist denomination was represented in Los Angeles County as early as 1853, the first services being held at El Monte by Rev. Freeman. In Los Angeles, the first services of this church were held in a small building on Spring street. The First Baptist Church was established in 1874, under the administration of Rev. Hobbs, eleven members. There are now 320, besides a goodly number which has gone to form the Parker Chapel. The First Church owns a handsome building which cost $25.000.
The Central Baptist Church was established in 1885 with eighteen members. It now has 340, and an edifice which seats 800 to 900.
In 1886 was established a Sunday-school at Parker Chapel, the which rapidly grew into congregation, so that in January, 1889, a church was organized then having fifty members, and now being much stronger. The church building, 40 x 70 feet, was built in 1887 as a mission chapel.
The East Los Angeles Baptist Church was organized in 1885, and the next year it built a church which will seat 450. There are now 120 members in this society,
The Swedish Baptist Church was organized May 13, 1887, with thirty members, now increased to seventy-three. The congregation worships in the First Baptist church.
A Second Baptist Church (colored) exists in the southern part of East Los Angeles.
Lutheran. Trinity Church, First German Lutheran, was established in 1882, the congregation having increased from eight families to 240 souls, with 180 communicants. Pending the erection of a handsome new church, the German school-house is used for service.
The First English Lutheran Church was organized as a mission in 1887, being supported by the Woman's Board of the General Synod. It is now half self-sustaining, and will soon be entirely so. The membership has grown from twenty-three to 125. The cost of the lot and building was $26,000.
There is a Swedish Lutheran Church in Los Angeles.
The German Evangelical Friedenskirche was organized in the summer of 1887. About fifty families now belong to this congregation. The church building is a neat frame structure, erected in 1887.
Christian Church/Disciples of Christ. Religious services of the Christian denomination (Disciples of Christ) were first held in Los Angeles in October, 1874, and continued at intervals until February, 1875. when a church organized with twenty-seven members. The roll has now grown to between 500 and 600, including two missions. The house of worship is on Temple street.
Unitarians. The first meetings of Unitarians in Los Angeles were held at the residence of T. E. Severance, in March. 1877. The organization of the church was perfected in May of the same year. Services after this were first held in the Opera House and in Armory Hall. In June, 1889, was occupied the new church edifice, on Seventh street, costing between $25,000 and $30,000 being mostly a donation from Dr. Eli Fay. D. D.. Ph.D.. the minister of this congregation since 1885.
Adventist. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church has about eighty members in Los Angeles, and it has also churches at Pasadena, Norwalk and Santa Ana.
Mormons. The Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints was organized in Los Angeles in the autumn of 1882, with about a dozen members; it now has some eighty. Worship is held in a hall rented by the society.
Judaism. Congregation B'nai B'rith was organized in 1882, under the pastorate of A. W. Edelman, who continued as Rabbi up to 1886, when the " reformed service " was introduced. The synagogue was built in 1873, being dedicated on August 8 of that year. It is a fine brick structure, but the trustees have in contemplation the erection of a handsomer building, on ground already secured for that purpose. The congregation has a very large membership, and it is constantly growing. The Sunday-school also has a large attendance. Connected with the congregation is a benevolent society managed by the ladies, as well as one by gentlemen; also a society of ladies who assist largely in furnishing and beautifying the synagogue.
Summary. In 1890, Los Angeles contained forty-four church organizations, of twelve different denominations, besides a few representatives of other faiths, as Spiritualism, Theosophy, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Parseeism, Confucianism, etc., and also an organization auxiliary to the National Secular Union.