Chatsworth Community Church
22601 Lassen Street, Chatsworth – map
This is the oldest public building in Chatsworth, and, standing outside it, you’ll forget you’re in Los Angeles, imagining instead you’re somewhere in New England. I mean, even the weather was New English when I was there.
Early in Chatsworth’s history (in the latter half of the latter half of the 1800s), an informal congregation held services where they could: out in the open; in a schoolhouse; in each other’s homes. A formal congregation called the Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1888. Just after the turn of the century, Nelson A. Gray donated land at 10051 Topanga Canyon Boulevard for a church to be constructed.
Also known as Pioneer Church, it was, especially in those early days, a true community church. Built completely with volunteer labor,
“the building served as a community headquarters, used for weddings, funerals, christenings, church suppers, recitals, social events, community meetings, and even Chamber of Commerce meetings were held there. In 1904, high school classes were held in the church.”Expanding the meeting space, the White Oak Hall part of the building was added in the early 1920s.
The building was renamed the Chatsworth Methodist Church in 1959, and soon after was abandoned for a larger building. When a new owner announced plans to demolish the structure for a shopping center, the Chatsworth Historical Society was formed to push for the church’s official historical status. After designation in early 1963, the building was donated by the owner to the Society, provided they move it off the property within a month. It was relocated inside Oakwood Memorial Park in January of 1965.
Rehabilitation to the old church was slow going what with lack of funds and excess of vandalism. While rededication ceremonies were held in 1976, it wasn’t until five years later that a new congregation began to hold services here. Since that time, the congregation of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican-Rite Catholic Church has occupied the building.
This newer bell’s history with the church goes back to 1993.
I would have loved to have nabbed a peek inside the church, and I figured early afternoon on Easter Sunday would’ve been a good time, but it was locked up. However, the Chatsworth Historical Society holds an open house from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the first Sunday of every month.
A detailed history of Pioneer Church, from where much of the above information (like that block quote) was gotten, can be found here. And go see the homepage for the Chatsworth Historical Society. Finally, Lila Swartz Schepler’s 1988 history of the Chatsworth United Methodist Church is here.
Up next: Towers of Simon Rodia