Historic Los Angeles Area Churches and Organs
The Los Angeles Chapter is pleased to present these historic photos relating to churches, organs, and builders in Southern California. We are grateful to Manuel Rosales who has compiled and annotated this intriguing collection. Most of these photos were found and copied from church archives by historian, photographer, and organist Jim Lewis who has written several books on the subject.
Photo Credits - Manuel Rosales (personal collection), Jim Lewis, Organ Historian, Author and Photographer, USC historical photo archives, Security Pacific Bank photo archives, and various Los Angeles area church archives.
Click on any photo to enlarge.
A building long before the Austin installation. Circa 1912.
Echo Park neighborhood Los Angeles. Building and the 1923 Kimball organ are intact.
Downtown Los Angeles - Welte Organ Showroom
Built in 1903/04. It housed Los Angeles Art Organ Co's 3M/P - Opus 46. The instrument's success lead to it being the most often performed on organ in the city. The building was purchased by the Methodists and in 1919 the organ was sold to the Bible Institute of Los Angeles - Church of the Open Door where it resided until the 1980s. Eventually it was sold to St. Thomas Episcopal in Hollywood which incorporates a majority of the pipework.
The 1927 4M/P Kimball organ at the First Baptist Church in Los Angeles featured two full-length 32' ranks and was reputed to be the loudest organ in California. Of course, it was entirely under expression to tame it down. Its current state is poor mechanically and its tonal resources were emasculated in the 1960s and barely hints of its original glory.
First Congregational Church, Los Angeles - 1895 - the oldest Protestant congregation in the city. Farrand and Votey organ with Roosevelt style chests - The first electric action organ in Los Angeles enlarged by Murray Harris 1903 when moved to a larger church. In 1930 it was moved to the Shatto Chapel of the current structure. Most of the organ was discarded in a later renovation by Abbott & Sieker in 1985.
First Methodist Episcopal Church, Los Angeles 1900. Murray M. Harris, 3M/P 38 ranks, dedicated 23 January 1900 by Clarence Eddy, Organist - detached console tubular action-pneumatic action. The building was razed in 1922 and the organ broken up for parts.
First Methodist Episcopal Church, Los Angeles 1900. Murray M. Harris, 3M/P 38 ranks, Akron-plan church with the Sunday school room to the right. A massive door would be drawn shut to separate the two rooms as needed.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Los Angeles - the building is extant but the Murray M. Harris organ was broken up for parts. Now the Iglesia Adventista Central. For a time in the 1970s it served as the Los Angeles branch of the ill-fated Peoples Temple led by the Rev. Jim Jones.
Second Church of Christ, Scientist - West Adams near USC. Building and 1910 Murray M. Harris organ are extant but the organ awaits a full restoration.
Third Church of Christ, Scientist. The building was razed and the organ no longer exists.
Wilshire Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. Built in 1925-1927, sold in 2012 to the Oasis Christian Church which occupies it today.
St. James Episcopal “St. James in the City” the current location of the 1911 Murray M. Harris organ with enhancements.
St. Paul's Cathedral - this building was razed to clear the site for the Biltmore Hotel.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church (pro-Cathedral) showing the facades of the 1911 Murray M. Harris organ. Behind one of those facades is the 24“ scale 32' Bombarde-Tuba rank shown in faded color photo. I hope the pipes were installed in a concrete expression box!
St. Paul's Cathedral in its 1924 location on Figueroa between 6th and Wilshire Boulevard. The Murray M. Harris organ was moved here as a “temporary” instrument. The organ was removed and stored and the building was razed to make way for the Sanwa Bank tower. No other Cathedral building was constructed to replace it.
St. Paul's Cathedral showing the Bergstrom Organ which was replaced by the Murray N. Harris in 1911.
Marker today at the site of St. Paul's
All Saints Episcopal, Pasadena - 1895 - the building was replaced by a larger church but the Hutchings organ was moved to the new building and enlarged by Murray Harris.
All Saints Episcopal, Pasadena - 1895 Hutchings organ was enlarged by Murray M. Harris in 1901. In 1910 MMH built a new organ incorporating some of the Hutchings pipework.
All Saints Episcopal, Pasadena - 1895 - interior of former church with the Hutchings organ to the left of the chancel.
The Church of the Angels, Pasadena - Church and Organ are extant and the 1889 Roosevelt organ has been restorated.
The Church of the Angels, 1889, Pasadena. The interior remains about the same as in this photo.
The Church of the Angels, Pasadena. 1889 Roosevelt Organ - to be restored in 2013.
First Baptist Church, Pasadena - 1904 Austin Organ.
First Baptist Church, Pasadena - 1926 - Edwin Spencer who was the Murray M. Harris shop foreman 1906 to 1913 set up his own workshop in Pasadena and built several organs, added to earlier instruments and replaced consoles with ones of his own design. Only one of his instruments remains intact.
First Baptist Church, Pasadena - 1926 Edwin Spencer Organ. This photo was taken circa 1965 before the organ was enlarged and tonally modified beyond recognition.
First Church of Christ, Scientist - Pasadena - 1910 Murray M. Harris organ. Building is extant but the organ has been “updated” with 1960's upperwork. The building has been carefully restored. There is some discussion about restoring some of the original pipework which still exists.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1910 - Pasadena - interior with console.
First Methodist Episcopal Church, Pasadena - 1901 J. W. Steer organ. This stone church was dismantled in 1922 and moved about 2 miles east and reassembled intact. It was renamed Holliston Methodist Episcopal Church relating it to the street it is next to. The Steer organ was reinstalled and most of it is still exists.
First United Methodist Church, Pasadena. 1924 Skinner Organ Company, Opus 430 - 4M/P extant organ, new console and added ranks in 1973-75.
Holliston Methodist Episcopal Church, Pasadena. Colored post card of the interior.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church - 1888 - Kilgen 3M/P was the first organ installed in Pasadena.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church - 1894 - housed a Kilgen 3-M/P tracker organ which was the first organ installed in Pasadena. This building was replaced by the neo-Gothic church in the next photo.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church - 1907-08 Murray M. Harris 3M/P - Console replaced 1947 by Aeolian-Skinner and in 1961 they installed a new organ retaining the 32’ Open Diapason. The sanctuary was severely damaged during the 1971 Sylmar earthquake and was razed. The organ was stored and reinstalled in the current building.
1912 Murray M. Harris - Pasadena Presbyterian Church.
Pasadena Presbyterian Church. 1907/08 Murray M. Harris - 67 ranks with a 32 foot Open wood Diapason and 7 stop Echo organ. The building was damaged in 1971 by a strong earthquake.
The previous photo in a colorized postcard from 1914.
The back of the previous colorized postcard image. Postmarked February 14, 1914.
First United Methodist Church, Glendale, CA. Postcard from 1965.
First United Methodist Church, Glendale, CA. Back of a postcard from 1965.
Throop Memorial Universal Church 1894 George Hutchings organ installed by Murray Harris when still employed by Hutchings. Razed circa 1953 and organ's pipes were moved into a “modern” organ.
Throop Memorial Universalist Church, Pasadena, 1894 George Hutchings Opus 365
1913 Charles Chaplin residence, Hollywood, CA
Sen. William Andrews Clark residence - 77th Street and Fifth Avenue
Sen. William Andrews Clark residence - Murray M. Harris organ.
Sen. William Andrews Clark residence - close-up of the organ with the 4M/P console in the adjacent space.
1913 - Haggerty Residence - West Adams district - Los Angeles - Murray M. Harris/Johnston Organ Company. Mr. Haggerty owned a very successful department store in Pasadena. His second residence was in Palos Verdes on the edge of a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. That residence was purchased in 1955 by a UCC Congregation that renovated it as a church complex. His “beach house” was not quite as ornate as his city dwelling.
Tally's Theater - downtown Los Angeles 1913
Tally's Theater - 1913 Murray M. Harris, 4M/P
1913-1915 Embassy Auditorium - Murray M. Harris 4M/P - Downtown Los Angeles
1913-1915 Embassy Auditorium - Murray M. Harris 4M/P - Downtown Los Angeles
University of Southern California (USC) Bovard Auditorium was the home of the largest Robert-Morton organ. It was designed as a concert instrument with 4M/P and 6 divisions. The auditorium boasted a “lively” acoustic and the organ featured two enormous 32 stops. When the organ was junked the purchaser donated the 32 ranks to the Crystal Cathedral which was still in the design stages of the “Hazel Wright” organ. The 32' wood Open Diapason stands in the center between the two cases. The 32' Bombar
Bovard Auditorium 32' Bombarde CCCC outside of the Robert Morton factory in Van Nuys, CA.
The 32' Diapason was donated to the Crystal Cathedral where it was painted white and resides between the two large cases of the front organ.
Unknown dapper gentleman seated at the Estey 'cash register' console in the Sacramento Auditorium. The registrations could be “typed” in but the metal buttons were notorious for giving the organist a lively jolt of back EMF shock from the stop action magnets. The organ is extant and for more information visit Will Scarboro's Municipal Organs site: http://www.municipalorgans.net/ — at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.
Murray M. Harris low CCCC of the 32' Bombarde (24 inch scale) from St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The rank is voiced on 12” and extends upward as a 97 pipes unit Tuba. Note that it was installed in the small wooden church. What a sensation it must have made! It now resides at St. James Episcopal on Wilshire Boulevard.
Murray M. Harris - “Opus One” being set-up in his workshop before delivery to Church of the Ascension, Episcopal, Sierra Madre, CA. The organ was sold in the 1950s to Professor Hunter Mead of Cal-Tech who installed it in his home. “Organ Fever” lead to the expansion of the modest instrument to over 100 ranks. Even though most of the house was consumed with organ chests and pipes, weekly recitals played by an array of local organists introduced listeners to the first truly eclectic recital series
Murray M. Harris factory. The moveable four-manual console on the left was being built for the New York mansion of Senator William Andrews Clark. It featured being moveable with built-in casters with all electric combination action in the console. The player, of course, used a very quiet motor driven feeder system in the console to create suction for the roll player mechanisms.
Ernest M. Skinner, Organ Builder
Los Angeles circa 1880 at the produce market.
Downtown Los Angeles circa 1904 looking NW towards Bunker Hill from what is now called Pershing Square. The wood frame church in the lower left is St. Paul's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral which housed three organs the last of which was the 1911 Murray Harris organ which was moved to the new Cathedral in 1924. The “new” St. Paul's Cathedral was demolished in 1980 and the Murray Harris organ eventually was reinstalled and much enlarged in St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Boulevard.
Typical circa 1912 Bunker Hill residence near the location of the Walt Disney Concert Hall
1930 National Association of Organists Convention in Los Angeles photographed in front of St. Vincent's Catholic Church on West Adams. Among those attending are Ernest M. Skinner and Los Angeles organists Alexander Schreiner, Roland Diggle, Ernest Douglass, Clarence Mader, William Blanchard, Joseph Clokey, Frank K. Owen, Leslie Spelman, Percy Shaul Hallett, Richard Keys Biggs and Stanley Williams.
First church of Christ, Scientist, San Diego, CA - 1910 Murray M. Harris organ - extant with modifications and a new console.