First Congregational Church of Los Angeles
This impressive English Gothic Revival-style building houses the city’s oldest continuous Protestant congregation. Completed in 1932 at the northwest corner of Lafayette Park, it is the fifth building the congregation has occupied since 1867. At its 1932 dedication, the minister remarked of the church, “Rising before you as you come up Sixth Street, it sits across the park like an English cathedral set in the trees.”
Designed by prominent Los Angeles architects Allison & Allison, the massive concrete structure was reinforced with more than 500 tons of steel. Its dominant feature is a tower soaring 157 feet above the street and weighing 30,000 tons. Four, three-ton pinnacles at the corners of the tower rise another nineteen feet, drawing one’s eyes to the heavens. Supported by more than 150 caissons extending up to forty-five feet into bedrock, the tower stood strong for more than sixty years, until the Northridge earthquake struck in 1994. Three of the four pinnacles cracked and shifted at their bases, teetering even more precariously in an aftershock twelve hours later. The project to replace the pinnacles and restore other elements of the tower earned the church a Conservancy Preservation Award.