Memory Chapel, Calvary Presbyterian Church
1156 North Marine Avenue, Wilmington – map
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 155 is the oldest Protestant church in the harbor area, maybe its oldest church, period.
I can’t tell you much, but I can report Memory Chapel has been in its current location since the late 1930s. Without actually leaving the couch, it’s difficult for me to be more specific. Here’s why:
-- The Wilmington Historical Society says Memory Chapel was built at what is now F Street and Marine Avenue and that it was moved to its current location in the 1939.
-- John R. Kielbasa is quoted as saying Memory Chapel was built at Fries Avenue and G Street and that it was moved to its current location in 1937.
I didn't hear back from the Historical Society (are they even around anymore?). However, Lester Alitagtag, an elder at Calvary Presbyterian Church, of which Memory Chapel is part today (the Chapel sits right next door) was nice enough to respond to my email. He wrote:
The Memory Chapel is the building that first hosted Calvary Presbyterian Church. In 1913, a new church building was constructed to accommodate a growing congregation. This second building that hosted Calvary burned down on October 21, 1928 while the Memory Chapel stayed in tact. The current building was dedicated on November 4, 1929 which is where Calvary now holds its regular Sunday English Worship services.
Speaking of Calvary Presbyterian Church, it’s the largest Filipino Presbyterian Church in the country. You can read about the church’s history here.
Memory Chapel is still used for services, every Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. The service is in Tagalog, so you might want to brush up on your language skillz (it is the official language of the Philippines, you know). Lester added,
From 9AM to 11AM, the Iglesia Agape Fellowship of Wilmington uses the Memory Chapel to hold their Spanish worship service. Then, at 11:30AM, the Memory Chapel is used to host one of Calvary's Sunday School rooms. On the first Friday of every month, a church-wide prayer meeting is also held in the Memory Chapel.Mr Alitagtag also points out the windows of the Chapel were replaced and the entire building was re-painted in recent months.
One more thing about the Chapel. Although there’s just one today, you can still see where there were originally two entrances – one for the ladies and one for the gents.
Up next: Fire Station No. 1