First Congregrational Church of Los Angeles

Architect's drawing of the First Congregational Church, the oldest continuous Protestant church in Los Angeles. Architects are Allison and Allison. Many of the new church edifices include community and educational centers. The church was built from 1930-1931.*  


Historical Notes

First Congregational Church of Los Angeles is a historic church at 540 South Commonwealth Avenue. Founded in 1867, the church is the city's oldest continuous Protestant congregation. The congregation moved around using a variety of buildings until it moved to its current location in 1932, with the first service being held on March 13, 1932.




(ca. 1935)* - Exterior view of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles showing the Shatto Chapel, tower and sanctuary.  The church is located on the northeast corner of 6th Street and Commonwealth Avenue in the Wilshire District.  


Historical Notes

Designed by prominent Los Angeles architects Allison & Allison, the massive concrete structure was reinforced with more than 500 tons of steel. Its dominant feature is a tower soaring 157 feet above the street and weighing 30,000 tons. Four, three-ton pinnacles at the corners of the tower rise another nineteen feet, drawing one’s eyes to the heavens.*




(ca. 1935)*- View showing th First Congregational Church located at 540 S. Commonwealth Avenue, as seen from Hoover Street, with the Sheraton Town House at left.  


Historical Notes

Supported by more than 150 caissons extending up to forty-five feet into bedrock, the tower stood strong for more than sixty years, until the Northridge earthquake struck in 1994.  Three of the four pinnacles cracked and shifted at their bases, teetering even more precariously in an aftershock twelve hours later.*




(ca. 1940s)^ - View from the roof of the Town House looking north toward the Hollywood Hills.  The First Congregational Church is seen at the lower-right.  





(1948)^^ – View looking south on Occidental Boulevard showing the First Congregational Church in the distance.  Click HERE to see contemporary view.  





(2005)* – View showing a large crane placing one of the church’s finials back on its stand.  


Historical Notes

The First Congregational Church sustained damage during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake when three of its four tower finials cracked and shifted their base.

The project to replace the pinnacles and restore other elements of the tower earned the church a Conservancy Preservation Award.*




(2015)* – Google street view showing the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, 540 S. Commonwealth Avenue.  


Historical Notes

On March 15, 2002, the church was designated Historic-Cultural Monument No. 706 by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission.  Click HERE to see complete listing.

The church has the world's second largest church organ although, similar to the instrument at St. Stephen's Cathedral, Passau (five organs, one console), it is really two separate organs playing from twin consoles. A Skinner organ, built in 1931, is in the front of the building and a Schlicker (of Buffalo, New York) in the rear balcony. Today the organs play some 20,000 pipes with five manuals, 346 ranks, 233 registers, and 265 stops although it is continually being enlarged.^




(2016)* – Google Earth view showing the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.  The intersection of 6th and Hoover streets is at lower-left. Commonwealth Avenue runs horizontally at top.  


Historical Notes

The First Congregational Church is the longest continuous Protestant church in Los Angeles. The Commonwealth location seen above is the 5th home of the Protestant Church that was first dedicated in 1868 (on New High Street north of Temple Street.


Click HERE to see the first 4 locations of the First Congregation Church of Los Angeles



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