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Schindler's South LA Church Could Become Historic-Cultural Monument

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Architect Rudolph Schindler's only church is on its way to earning protected status. The City Council approved a motion yesterday asking for a historic-cultural study of Schindler's Bethlehem Baptist Church in Watts, which is one of the first steps toward making the site a Historic-Cultural Monument. The church was built in 1944, and is probably the only mid-century modern in south LA, although it's now out of use and in bad shape.

From the MAK Center's website (and Councilmember Jan Perry's motion): "In appearance, the Bethlehem Baptist Church closely resembles a number of houses that Schindler designed. Horizontal bands of stucco step down and clad the exterior of the building, recalling Schindler's Packard House (1924) and Howe House (1925). This horizontal datum reduces the visual scale of the church, and helps lead the eye up to the cross-shaped tower and skylight that rises above the main space. Without this tower, the building can hardly be identified as a place for worship. Schindler designed the congregation space and added classrooms to an existing structure, which was the living space of the pastor. Two seating areas for the congregation met at a corner of the building, where a pulpit and small pool were located. The main entrance was also designated at this corner so that the public could enter the church on a diagonal axis, perceiving the longest distance of interior space. Clerestory windows, in addition to the central skylight, direct light into the main space. The roof terrace of the building was often used as an outdoor theater and stage...It is far from its original, polished condition, as even its exterior shades of blue, red, and black have faded to a white color."

The CHC will present their report to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee within 90 days. After that, PLUM makes a recommendation to the City Council, who vote on the final designation. [Image via Platial]
· MAK Center [Official Site]