St Paul’s Cathedral
1924 – Reginald Johnson, Roland Coate, Gordon Kaufman, Carleton Winslow
Demolished in 1980
615 South Figueroa Street – map
Well, sad to say, but this landmarked Episcopal church building was torn down in March, 1980, to make way for the fifty-story office building that occupies the site today.
Hey! It’s the Rex Arms (1912) back there on Wilshire Boulevard, formerly Orange Street. It, as well, is long gone.
The congregation’s previous home was a few blocks away on Olive. It was razed for the construction of the Biltmore Hotel. The new 1,200-seat church, designed by Reginald Johnson, Roland Coate, Gordon Kaufman, and Carleton Winslow, was dedicated on July 13, 1924, with the help of Rt Rev. Johnson, D.D., bishop of the diocese of Los Angeles. A contemporary account noted the cathedral
“in its decorations combines the past with the present in an especially happy manner. The architecture is of the Romanesque, the European style between the Roman and the Gothic. The windows of the nave depict the development of the church by showing scenes form the lives of its bishops, beginning with St. Alban, the British martyr, and ending with Bishop Johnson laying the corner-stone of the cathedral here.”
“On one side the windows have the seals of the seven original American diocese, and the seals of two of the Canadian dioceses are shown, while in the windows over the chancel are the seals of the California diocese and of five of the English dioceses. Relics of other cathedrals, fragments of stone, are set in the wall of the altar; some are from the famous cathedrals of Europe, dating from the earliest church structures to the first American church at Jamestown.”Sorry about all the direct quoting, but my question is: Where’s all of this today? I reckon all those stone fragments from the famous European cathedrals and earliest American churches are God-knows-where, but the stained-glass windows were preserved.
Turns out the courtyard was something of note. You can make out some of it in the picture below.
A lotta tile for that roof.
St Paul’s had dodged the wrecker’s ball off and on for about two decades when, in 1979, Bishop Robert Rusack and the Episcopal Diocese of L.A. sold it to Mitsui Fudosan (U.S.A.), a real estate company based in Japan, for about $4 million in cash. Rusack went straight to Santa Anita, and lost it all on an exacta in the seventh (kidding, probably).
In my St Paul’s Googlefest, up popped this bit about Frank Owen. He was the church's Organist-Choirmaster for more than twenty years, beginning in 1953.
The photo at the top is from L.A.'s City Planning website. The rest of the black and white photos are from the Los Angeles Public Library archives.
And, now, the former home of St Paul's Cathedral.
“New Cathedral is Dedicated” Los Angeles Times; Jul 14, 1924, p. A1
Ray Hebert “Wreckers at Work on St. Paul’s Cathedral” Los Angeles Times; Mar 11, 1980, p.C1
Up next: Cedar Trees