Sunday, November 25, 2007
Central Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church
1912 – Elmer Grey
1366 South Alvarado Street – map
This Romanesque/Beaux Arts church was originally built as the home for the First Church of Christ, Scientist. For about the past thirty years, it’s been the Central Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Today, Ever Garcias is the senior pastor for the Central Spanish congregation, while the Reverend Moises A. Sandoval presides over the Sunday meetings of the Centro Cristiano Emanuel.
When architect Elmer Grey first submitted preliminary studies for the church in February of 1912, costs were planned at around $100,000. Construction began on June 10 later that year.
The building was designated on the same day as the previous six homes on the Historic-Cultural Monument list for their “reflecting Victorian architecture on a grand scale prevalent at the turn of the century”.
The most notorious part of the church’s history, though, is its life in the 1970s. At the beginning of the decade the building was converted from a synagogue to house the Disciples of Christ congregation of the People’s Temple Christian Church, run by the Reverend Jim Jones. Yes, that Jim Jones.
Jim “It’s hard to be God” Jones set up (another) shop here, after establishing temples in San Francisco and Utah. Throughout the seventies, his popularity grew while his congregation soared to 20,000. Jones would come to Los Angeles every two weeks to preach to the nearly all black congregation here. In the summer of 1977, he moved a group of his followers to Jonestown in northern Guyana where, the following November, more than 900 of them died in the mass murder/suicide that was in all the papers back then.
Today, the church is surrounded by fencing to keep out vandals, the homeless, etc., but otherwise looks a lot like it did 80-odd years ago, as in this shot from 1915 above.
Special thanks to Francisco, a congregation member who, one Saturday afternoon, showed me around and filled me in on some of the building’s recent history.
Up next: St Vincent de Paul Church