Santa Monica Conservancy Tour Features Sacred Places

The Santa Monica Conservancy’s annual fall tour “Sacred Places” offers a rare opportunity to explore the history, culture and architectural beauty of 15 places of worship in Santa Monica this Saturday, Oct. 7, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The tour features churches, chapels and a synagogue that were selected for their historical significance and cultural diversity.

“Few places have had such significance in the city’s character and development as places of worship and community gathering,” said Ruthann Lehrer, tour chair.

Saint Augustine-by-the-Sea is one of the churches on the Conservancy’s tour.
Photo: Judy Raffel

First United Methodist and First Presbyterian were established in 1875, just months after Santa Monica’s founding. Both began as small wooden chapels downtown and later evolved into major modern architectural landmarks.

Also, downtown at Fourth and Wilshire, St. Augustine’s rose from the ashes of a disastrous fire in 1966 that destroyed the orig- inal 1887 wooden church.

Nearby, St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox offer a glimpse into ancient Eastern Orthodox traditions.

Phillips Chapel, the city’s oldest African-American church, was founded in 1906. The church reused a former school building, later remodeled in the 1940s to include commemorative stained-glass windows. It was designated as a Santa Monica landmark in 2005 to honor its centennial.

Angel Gabriel, First Presbyterian Church

The large scale of Calvary Baptist Church, also serving African-Americans, reflects its former mid-city population base prior to construction of the 10 freeway.

Two churches with predominantly Latino congregations will be featured: St. Anne, founded in 1908, which has an outdoor shrine; and Iglesia el Sermon del Monte, which meets in a building originally built as a Baptist church in 1919 with magnificent stained-glass windows.

This self-driving or biking tour offers several designated check-in locations. Visitors will be provided a map and detailed brochure of the sites.

Advance tickets are $25 for Santa Monica Conservancy members and $30 for the public. Tickets may be purchased online at or by sending a check to P.O. Box 653, Santa Monica, CA 90406.

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