Our Historic Background

The warmth of Immanuel Presbyterian Church has touched the hearts and souls of thousands of Southern Californians across race, background, and culture for over 129 years (1888-present). As a sacred and safe place for worship, prayer, spiritual nurture, community building, education, and celebration, our history is part of our core. Now recognized as historic landmark #78 for the City of Los Angeles.

Our Founder

HISTORY

Rev William J Chichester

HISTORY

Immanuel

Current Location Opened in 1929

Stories in Stained Glass Windows

HISTORY

Main Sanctuary

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History

Immanuel Presbyterian Church was founded in 1888 by Rev William J Chichester in downtown Los Angeles. Dr. Chichester was originally from Baltimore, Maryland, practiced in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and moved west in 1885, when he was asked to be the Pastor of the First Church of Los Angeles.

Once established in Los Angeles, Chichester felt called to establish a new church in 1888, which is Immanuel Presbyterian Church today.

When downtown Los Angeles started expansion plans that impacted the site of the original location on Tenth (now Wilshire Blvd) and Figueroa Streets, Immanuel’s leadership decided to move west.

After years of planning, fundraising and building, the new church held its Dedication Day at the current mid-Wilshire location on May 5, 1929. This gothic style building is now recognized as historic landmark #78 for the City of Los Angeles.

Throughout the decades, Immanuel has been deeply engaged in furthering the growth and health of Los Angeles. Immanuel and its members were involved in helping launch and support such institutions as Occidental College, Union Rescue Mission, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), and Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital.

In 1995, with the neighborhood changing and becoming increasingly diverse, Immanuel inaugurated its Spanish worship. Since then, Immanuel has worshipped both in English and in Spanish, as well as bilingually.

Taking seriously God’s call to be a “house of worship for all nations,” Immanuel has continued to be a welcoming sanctuary for all people, including LGBTQ+ individuals, those who are undocumented, the homeless, and people from all walks of life, cultures, ages, and backgrounds.

The Architecture 

Our current building was designed by Architects Chauncy F Skilling and HM Patterson in a Gothic Revival Style. Skilling was active in the church from 1916 and designed the building to “induce the spirit of worship in all who enter its doors”.

The rooms and chapels are named after men and women who were devoted to the church, including Chichester Chapel (named after the founder).

A bell tower rises 205 feet and is a recognized landmark along Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile in mid-Los Angeles.

The Main Sanctuary includes stenciled hammer-beamed ceilings supported by cluster columns, a carved wood pulpit, chandeliers and oak furnishings. The gothic-inspired cathedral is filled with graceful arches, stunning stained-glass windows, and intricately carved woodwork. The Gothic Revival Style is displayed in the transom stained glass window in the Gothic arch. This traditional style was installed with the original building in 1929, and the windows contain symbols of Trinity and Missionaries. These rich tone stained glass windows have been designed with deep symbolism and meaning in alignment with the church. The majority of the original windows were created by Dixon Art Glass Company of Los Angeles and depict scenes from the Life of Christ.

Many windows on the main floor were designed by Judson Studios in the 1970s, and tell the story of the apostles, including: Peter, Matthias, John, Philip, James the Less, Andrew, and Matthew.

The Westminster Chapel windows were installed during a remodel in 1958 and were made by Willet Stain Glass Studios of Philadelphia.

Each stained-glass window has a name and a meaningful story. For example, The Rose Window (a gift from Women’s Aid Society) is located in the Chichester Chapel, and the intricate design includes a flower with symbols for the Mother of Jesus.

We are proud of the deep history of Immanuel Presbyterian Church and are committed to preserving and enhancing its beauty and utility as a house of worship and historic landmark.

References:

  1. Book: Immanuel Presbyterian Church: 100 Years of Caring and Sharing (1888-1988)
  2. Book: Windows of Immanuel (Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010)
  3. Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1997, p 349 (RE Architects) https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/158138044/
  4. Condition Report and Recommended Treatments for the Stained Glass Windows of Immanuel Presbyterian Church (prepared by William Judson, Judson Studioes, Los Angeles, September 7, 2004)
  5. Los Angeles Conservancy (Dixon Art Glass Company reference)  https://www.laconservancy.org/locations/immanuel-presbyterian-church
  6. List of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments (see 743) – Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Los_Angeles_Historic-Cultural_Monuments_in_the_Wilshire_and_Westlake_areas