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Historic Lincoln Heights church wins $150K preservation grant

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“The Church of the Epiphany is incredibly important to the history of Los Angeles”

A 2018 photo show’s the church’s interior.
Photo by Erin Sullivan, courtesy of Church of the Epiphany

A landmarked Lincoln Heights church known for its contributions to the Chicano Movement just won a hefty $150,000 windfall to help pay for much-needed maintenance.

The Church of the Epiphany was one of 11 sites nationwide selected to receive preservation funding from Partners in Preservation, a team of the National Trust for Preservation and American Express.

In total, $1.6 million was awarded for the preservation of a handful of sites.

Father Tom Carey, church vicar, said church officials and members were grateful for the “outpouring” of support their campaign received. With the grant, “the church will be able to continue its vital social justice activism on behalf of the Latino community and provide important services,” he said.

The church plans to use the money to repair its roof and rehab its basement, according to a announcement from Partners in Preservation. Once it’s repaired, the basement will host health and legal clinics. (The basement also holds a trove of historic photographs and documents from Epiphany’s decades of social justice activism, collectively called the People’s History Project.)

The Church of the Epiphany was a former safe haven during the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and a hub for the local community.

“The Church of the Epiphany is incredibly important to the history of Los Angeles,” says Linda Dishman, president of the Los Angeles Conservancy, which is a partner on the campaign. “It has architectural significance, yes, but even more so, it embodies a seminal period in our cultural history.”

The building at Altura and Sichel dates to the 1880s. But it was the 1960s that brought the church to the forefront.

Gathering of supporters of Raul Ruiz for 48th Assembly District special election, 1971.
Photo by Nancy von Lauderback Tovar, Lydia López Archives, courtesy of Church of the Epiphany

The Los Angeles base for United Farm Workers, César Chavez gave speeches at the church, and it served as a hub of organizing for the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and ’70s. The building was a center of operations for organizers of the East LA walkouts and the Chicano Moratorium protests against the Vietnam War.

The church carries on as a bastion of social justice and community aid, hosting regular health care clinics and events where legal resources are provided for residents who are facing eviction and immigration issues.

The repairs that will be funded by this unexpected boon are part of an ongoing fundraising effort to help pay for additional improvements to the building.