Sunday, July 6, 2008

Then and Now: Church of the Angels

It's a bit of a thrill to find an old photo, taken from a spot you can get to, then go see what the shot looks like today. I've wanted to try it for a long time.

Pasadena's Church of the Angels is a good place to start. It's the oldest church in Pasadena (built in 1889), rich in history and still active today. It appears in films and TV from time to time.

My friend Bob Goldstein used to be a docent at Pasadena Heritage and probably still would be, had he not moved away from southern California. He loved that volunteer position and relished giving tours of Pasadena's historical neighborhoods. Bob took his post card collection with him, but he's shared some good scans with me. He sent tour information, too—I still haven't perused it all. There'll be more "Now and Then" installments, thanks to Bob.

There'll also be more pictures of Church of the Angels in the next few days, thanks to Kelly. She showed me around her beloved church and read to me about its history. A beautiful old building is a treasure, an old church a quiet mystery. When you and your friend have that to yourselves, it's a special kind of blessing.

32 comments:

Bernie K. said...

Cool! I can't decide if history is short or lives are long.

USelaine said...

It's wonderful when such structures are well maintained through the decades. These will be fun to see as you include them.

Palm Axis said...

Welcome Petrea to Garvanza! I've been waiting for you to get over to my Pasadena adjacent hood. Across the street from the church is a property with three restored homes on it The green and yellow bungalows, are the homes of the workers who constructed the church. Maybe someone reading your post might know when the cross on the hill behind the church was erected.

Jim said...

It looks wonderful, like nothing has changed. I love the now and then, not many examples in Terrell. Looking forward to seeing more.

Life Observer said...

P, luv these photos. The obvious question is why does the postcard list it as being in Los Angeles? I think Pasadena was incorporated by then! Maybe just typical big city bias or ignorance.

Lily Hydrangea said...

I would love to see the front of the angel carrying the cross on the right (hint-hint). I didn't notice it until I enlarged the photo. According to the postcard it may have been added at a later date. I am looking forward to the other pictures too! I also like the color of the stone as well. What beautiful grounds.

Lindsey said...

Well, I'm not really for institutionalized religion because I like to believe what I want, and not just join the crowd. They have no evidence of biblical events after all, otherwise I'd pretty much have to consider that.

Me though, I am spiritual and while I don't believe in god, I believe in a driving force. Stuff doesn't happen without cause and effect after all.

Knoxville Girl said...

The trees look bigger now. What a great find, thanks for sharing the history.

Ben Wideman said...

Such an awesome idea! Find a postcard and track the spot down perfectly!

Hey Lindsey, interesting comment regarding "lack of evidence". There is quite a bit of archaeological and textual evidence out there supporting biblical stories. I'm not on a conversion mission, but if you want to learn more take a trip to Israel/Palestine. The "stories" come to life there. Drop me a line if you want to talk more about that!

Lindsey said...

Really now? Intriguing...

Katie said...

Great now and then Petrea! So astonishing how little has changed! Beautiful church; I'd be interested to see the inside too.

Life Observer said...

Lindsey, I agree with Professor Ben W: I've discovered there is more evidence for that than just about anything else in ancient history. These churches, even in atheist countries like China just continue to live on 4 sum reason...

Petrea said...

It may not be up to us, Bernie, but if you asked me I'd say both are short.

Yeah, U.S.E, this one's a beauty.

Palm, I thought of you while I was there. You once said to me, "You don't get to southwest Pasadena much." Something to remedy. I must come look for those bungalows.

Jim, things on the grounds have changed, but the building's exterior looks much the same except the color of the stone. But I don't know how accurate the color is in the old post card.

Good question, life observer. A guess: the church is on the very southwestern edge of Pasadena, which may have been Los Angeles at the time. It was called the "village of Garvanza." Google "Garvanza Los Angeles" and you'll find excellent info.

Lily, the grounds have changed quite a bit since the original photo. The driveways are different, the angel is new (as you noticed). The giant cedar wasn't there originally, and the trees in front of the church now aren't the same ones that were there originally.

Lindsey, this post is more about the building than about religion, yet it's fine to express your views. And Ben's right, there's plenty of evidence for Biblical events. Many people mentioned in the Bible are historical figures as well.

My pleasure, Knoxville Girl. See re: trees, above.

Ben, I once read a book entitled "The Bible as History," by Keller. It's still in print but probably out of date by now. There's surely more recent scholarship on the subject. Very cool. Have you made the trip to Israel and Palestine? Have you clicked on Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo and visited with Dina?

Stay tuned, Katie. You too, Mike.

Bibi said...

Funny, isn't it, how many bloggers have recently posted church and wedding photos! I'll be going to a wedding this month. I like these photos, and what you wrote.

Elizabeth said...

Lily and Petrea- I have a postcard of this church, postmarked 1927, that shows the angel. So it existed by then, at least. :-)

Irina Netchaev said...

How cool to see the Church of the Angels from a before/after perspective. I was just there photographing Church of the Angels the week before last.

I always loved driving down Avenue 64 because I know that I'll get a glimpse of this beauty.

Great idea for the post. :-)

Yorokobi Assaiki said...

That's a good one! And most "Then and Now" photos don't come CLOSE to be this nearly identical in vantage point.

Looks like all you are is a bit lower in elevation, probably due to the obvious landscaping that's been done.

I'm not anywhere near Pasadena, and I still look forward to more...

Petrea said...

Thanks, bibi!

Elizabeth, that's so cool. That tells me Bob's postcard is older. I wasn't sure of its date.

Irina, others were photographing it while I was there. I imagine it gets its picture taken quite a bit.

Yorokobi, I could have gotten higher but I would have had to be more to the right. So I chose to be lower. I'm glad you like it.

Ben Wideman said...

I have made the trip, a year ago Meredith and I went for a month with a study tour to take a visit to historic religious sites and also hear from Israelis and Palestinians about the modern conflict. Pretty powerful stuff!

Thanks for the tip on the Jerusalem Photo blog.

Petrea said...

Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. I hope you enjoy Dina's blog, too.

Kaleb said...

Thanks for the "then and now" look. Many things have changed, many have stayed the same. While I no longer agree with the church, I still value the structures, places and memories this place contains.

The "cedar" tree I think is a juniper, and has been there for longer than I have been alive (could be wrong, but am working from memory). The driveway has been reformulated a few times--in the 1980's or so for easier access and fire regulations, as I recall.

The confusion on the postcard---a LOT of postcards and photos were tagged with "general" areas at the time. And, truthfully, if you step across the street, it is LA.

Thanks again for the trip down memory lane.

chasmiller said...

Petrea,

For historical detail, the church was built by Francis Campbell-Johnson as a memorial to her husband, Alexander, and a place of worship for the people of Garvanza on the San Rafael Ranch land they owned.

It was directly inspired by this church in England http://ukattraction.com/south-east-england/st-marys-church-dorking.htm

Pasadena tried to "claim" it much earlier, as Francis selected a site near the town of Garvanza over the objections of her friends who thought it should be built either in Pasadena or Los Angeles rther than this small town.

In 1899, the town of Garvanza was among the very first suburbs incorporated into what was to become the vast metropolis of Los Angeles. (perhaps a reason the postcard says "Los Angeles") I imagine that around that time her old friends in Pasadena finally got their way and the church was placed just inside its city boundries.

Petrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petrea said...

Hi chasmiller, thanks for your history notes, some of which you may have come across as I touched on or linked to them in the series. However I didn't come across the information about Pasadena's early attempts to claim the church, an interesting tidbit! Thanks.

Mike said...

Sorry to revive an old thread, but I just realized by looking at the neat then-and-now photos, that the steeple had been restored in recent years, since it's identical in both photos. I remember that after the 1971 quake, some of the supporting bricks gave way and the steeple dropped a bit, to just above the clock. The folks who repaired it merely straightened it out but left it as is. Anyway it stayed that way for many years.

As to the location, I recall looking at old maps which outlined Pasadena's growth, and that general area wasn't incorporated into Pasadena until around World War I or maybe the early 1900s.

OK, I'm done.

Petrea said...

Hi Mike, I checked my links and they're old. I was able to fix one, but the history portion of the COA site is apparently gone. Bummer! I do remember reading that the steeple was repaired or replaced.

If you look at chasmiller's comment just a couple above yours, you'll see some incorporation info that I believe is accurate.

Anonymous said...

Hi y'all. The "angel carrying the cross" is part of a sundial and is designed as such, not just a statue. the sundial & garden are not original but are not 'new." Call fr Bob and ask him about the age of it, he might know or will be able to get this info for you. You should all get together and plan a visit, I'm sure there would be no charge since you wouldn't be filming movie or anything like that. Just don't go in August because there is no AC and you'll fry!

Anonymous said...

Hello again. Yes, part of the steeple tour was replaced in the early 1990's; the section above the clock and the roof above. This was done to repair damage from an earthquake that took place years and years ago. At the same time as the tower repair the old asphalt drive was taken out and replaced with pavers around the front and a decomposed stone product that matched the building was put down. This ended up providing better drainage and was much more pleasing to the eye. Also, a memorial garden was created on the back hillside. Yes, ashes have been strewn there!

Petrea said...

Anonymous, I didn't know the angel was a sundial, nor did I know about the memorial garden. Thanks for your contribution!

Shereen said...

I lived in Highland Park for several years and attended this wonderful church for awhile (my son was baptized there.) It is not only one of the most beautiful structures in the Los Angeles area, but the history of the construction is also fascinating. In addition, I worked with Bob Goldstein and he is another one of Pasadena's treasures! If all volunteers were like Bob, the world would be a much better place!

Petrea said...

Hi Shereen. Thanks for visiting. This is the post that keeps on giving! I agree with you about the church and about Bob! Unfortunately for Pasadena he no longer lives here. Fortunately for me I'm a friend of his family, so I get news of him from time to time. He's happy and well, shining his light in other places. May I tell him what you said? It would make his day.

Star said...
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