Saturday, April 14, 2007

No. 14 - Chatsworth Community Church

Chatsworth Community Church

Chatsworth Community Church
22601 Lassen Street, Chatsworth – map
Declared: 2/15/63

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.

Chatsworth Community Churc

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.

Chatsworth Community Church

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.

Chatsworth Community Church

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.

Chatsworth Community Church

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.

Chatsworth Community Church
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.

Chatsworth Community Church

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


Anonymous said...

Your site is awesome and the pictures are really cool. Just one comment - the map and address of the church are incorrect. The Church is actually inside Oakwood Cemetery at the end of Lassen.



I have spent about three hours looking around your site and it is great - makes me miss LA

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Hi, Paul. Thanks a lot for the nice comment. The Lassen address is actually the official address of Oakwood Memorial Park, home to the church, but you're right - you need to drive into the Park/Cemetery to visit the landmark.

Anonymous said...

This is such a trip to see all of these great pictures from what was basically my childhood. I grew up in Rockpoint (the community just beyond the cemetary where the little church is). There are so many things I want to comment on - but mostly that it's been great seeing "home" as I now live in Washington state. However, I'm still friends with my childhood friends when Rockpoint was first built (before that it was orange groves). You mentioned that this is the oldest building. However, I was told, growing up, that the oldest building was built somewhere in the 1700's and it was the original structure that is inside Chatsworth Park South where the person that ran the park would live. Also - the park used to have a completely different entrance to the left of the one now. I can't believe my friends and I would go climbing up in those rocks and caves at such young ages where we would see graffiti from Manson's gang. Also, the Stagecoach Trail was such a big deal as a kid. Everything was about "Save the Stagecoach Trail". I too, remember thinking what? Did I miss something? Where is it? And that was back in probably 1970 or 71. I loved reading that other person's memories from even further back from me! I too went to Chatsworth Park Elementary School. I remember Mrs. Graves, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Mannassee (sp?). I went from 1970 to 1976. Gosh, even back then half of Chatsworth was horse trails and farms. There was a house on Devonshire right at Farralone where these two dogs lived on the roof of the old farmhouse. And there were nothing but giant Eucaliptys trees across the street from Chats. Elem. - behind them was a giant farm that we used to cut through to get to my friends house and always got in trouble! So sad - nothing but track housing there now. But hey - thanks for this site! Very cool.

Kelly Herbold (aka Helen Purcell)