Wilshire United Methodist Church
This church was known for a controversial jazz concert and celebrity congregants.
With its 144-foot tower in the style of a thirteenth-century Italian campanile, the Wilshire Congregational Church (now Wilshire United Methodist Church) soars above its neighbors in a neighborhood that has remained characterized by relatively low-rise commercial and residential structures.
The architects, Allison and Allison, who also designed First Congregational Church (540 S. Commonwealth), Janss Investment Corp. (1099 Westwood Blvd.), and buildings at UCLA, were known for their masterful use of concrete and fusion of Italian, Spanish, and Gothic styles, all in evidence here.
In its early years, the church's founding pastor, Frank Dyer, engendered great controversy by holding a jazz concert in the sanctuary and by staging a church fundraiser at the Olympic Auditorium that was to include prizefighter Jack Dempsey.
Later, the church became known for its celebrity contingent, hosting the weddings of Jeannette MacDonald in 1937 and seventeen-year-old Shirley Temple in 1945.
In 1994, the building suffered almost five million dollars in damage from an arson fire. It was restored to its original splendor the next year. Today it offers services in English, Spanish, Korean, and Tagalog.