Though better known for its landmark religious buildings of more established denominations, Los Angeles’ Wilshire District also gave birth to one of the larger 20th century American spiritual movements, Religious Science. Established by Ernest Holmes during the 1920s, the Institute of Religious Science opened its second building at Sixth Street and New Hampshire Avenue in 1935, in an Italian Renaissance Revival building heavily inspired by the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.
Unlike most of Los Angeles’ lost religious buildings, this one fell victim not to the decline of its membership, but to its very successful growth. By the late 1980s, the Mid-Wilshire building was the headquarters of a 250,000-member constituency spread across 300 churches in 18 countries. With a need for new office space as acute as its lack of funds, the denomination partnered with IDM Corporation, a Long Beach developer, to redevelop its land. The church’s historic quarters were demolished in 1988, alongside several adjacent parcels. In the following year, the United Church of Religious Science reopened its offices in a new four-story building named the Holmes Center. Meanwhile, the adjacent plots on the north side of the block were replaced by a large rental apartment complex built above a shared parking parking structure.
1. “Church in new home.” Los Angeles Times. 27 Jul. 1935. A2.
2. Dart, John. “$6-million Wilshire District project church deals for a new headquarters.” Los Angeles Times. 3 Sep. 1988. 6.
Original Photo: Reagh, William. “United Church of Religious Science church and headquarters – 00075542.” 1985. Los Angeles Public Library. http://photos.lapl.org/carlweb/jsp/FullRecord?databaseID=968&record=1&controlNumber=78937.