Founder's Church of Religious Science | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Michael Locke

Founder's Church of Religious Science

Dr. Ernest Holmes established the Founders Church of Religious Science in 1932, and by the time he died in 1960 his church had grown to 100,000 members across the country. The Los Angeles congregation needed a new sanctuary, so its members hired renowned architect Paul R. Williams to design a new church on West Sixth Street.

Williams drew on the church’s philosophy of wholeness and positivity to design a Modern-style, elliptically-shaped building meant to enhance feelings of inclusion.

The reinforced concrete building features smooth wall surfaces topped by an enormous steel-framed dome that reached the equivalent of four stories in height. A tall wall of pierced concrete block surrounds the church, enclosing it within a lush green garden and adding substantial visual interest to the unadorned main sanctuary. The wall and the domed structure together have a sort of Moorish flavor presented in a clean and simplified Modern style.

Inside, the connected chapel portion of the property featured the brand-new technology of closed-circuit television, so if the main auditorium filled up people could still watch and hear services on the televisions in the chapel. The Founders Church of Religious Sciences was one of very few religious buildings Williams designed, and is a wonderful example of his Modern buildings.

Photo by L.A. Conservancy

Lombardi House

Exuberant rooflines and an especially flamboyant residential design seemingly drawn from the commercial Googie style testify to the architect's innovations in Mid-Century Modern design.