Iglesia Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (Plaza Church)
1822 – Jose Antonio Ramirez
535 North Main Street, Los Angeles – map
Iglesia Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (The Church of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels) was built after the previous church was ruined by flooding. While this building was dedicated on December 8, 1822, the church itself was founded in 1781, shortly after settlers first arrived. Despite lots and lots of changes over the last two centuries, Plaza Church can claim it’s the oldest established church in continuing use in Los Angeles.
The Church in 1870.
Compare these two photos – the top one, from the Denver Public Library, was taken by William Henry Jackson – and you can tell how much was added to the original building. Actually, if you read David Gebhard and Robert Winter’s Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide, it’s clear that pretty much what you see in this vintage photo is even much different than how the church looked originally in 1822. This shot is probably close to how the place looked after a re-modeling at the start of the Civil War, minus the bell tower which was added in 1875.
The picture below is the area in the older part of the church and what you see when you go straight through the main doors.
"The back" of the church, the portion primarily used
Around the back you can see the most functioning part of the church, also a later addition. I was there on a Sunday afternoon, so it was really packed.
Finally, just more than a century ago, it was decided that every mile of the El Camino Real (The King’s Highway, which linked California’s missions) should be marked with some sort of guidepost – actually, a bell. If you look to the very right side of the wide shot above, you can see the first bell/marker dedicated in the summer of 1906. There’s also a bell outside the Leonis Adobe (CHM #1).
Oh. And, despite what you read in the picture below, it's believed now that Iglesia Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles was never officially a mission.
Plaza Church is also California Historical Landmark #144.
Up next: Angels Flight