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Schindler's Bethlehem Baptist Getting Saved, Where's the Owner?*

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The Cultural Heritage Commission is expected to approve Historic-Cultural Monument status for Rudolph Schindler's Bethlehem Baptist Church in Central Alameda today. And while the owner has been notified of the nomination (as required), the planning department hasn't heard from him and doesn't know what his own plans for the building are, according to a press rep for Councilmember Jan Perry. The church is covered in graffiti and all its paint has faded, but the CHC's report lists the condition as "fair" and says there are no known threats to the site.

Bethlehem Baptist was designed for a small African-American congregation, and it's Schindler's only built church. The CHC's report calls the building "all the more remarkable as the lone example of Modernist architecture to cross Los Angeles's economic and racial boundaries during the era of Jim Crow housing covenants."

This isn't the first time the city has been asked to protect the church. The then-Cultural Heritage Board looked into the matter in 1972 and were told by the AIA's Cultural Heritage Committee that the building was low-budget and a lesser Schindler. In 1974, the Board received a nomination for the church and voted unanimously to consider it for HCM status. One member motioned to grant the status, but he couldn't even get a second.

Perry nominated Bethlehem Baptist Church again this year. Next up: a recommendation from the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management committee, and then a vote by the full Council. If it all goes through, HCM designation will protect the building from teardown or alteration, but it can't do anything about neglect or age.

UPDATE: And it was approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission.


· Schindler's South LA Church Could Become Historic-Cultural Monument [Curbed LA]
· Closer Look at Schindler's Bethlehem Baptist Church [Curbed LA]