An Historic, Centrally Located Landmark
Buildings of Architectural Significance
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany has served the Lincoln Heights and Downtown communities of Los Angeles, California since the original structure was built in 1886. The church sits on the corner of Sichel and Altura Streets, just off the busy intersection of North Broadway and Griffin Avenue. It is about ten minutes by car from the Los Angeles Civic Center in a north-easterly direction and is even closer to Chinatown. Originally one of the earliest suburbs of Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights boasts many century-old houses of great beauty and stature. However, since the mid-twentieth century its residents have been comprised mainly of the working poor, and recent immigrants from Latin America or Asia.
Designed by Ernest Coxhead, who designed many Episcopal Churches of the period, the 1886 building served as the parish church until 1913, when the cornerstone was laid for a new, larger church designed by Arthur Benton. With the construction of the new church, the original building became the Parish Hall.
Benton employed an intriguing mix of styles, with elements of Gothic revival on the roof and in the stonework. The interior is “Wood Gothic” with high ceilings and majestic wooden pillars. It also boasts a pipe organ designed by Henry Pilcher’s Sons of Louisville, KY. Epiphany still has its original stained-glass windows, though some have been removed for preservation purposes. The “Epiphany” window over the main altar was probably created by Judson Studios of Los Angeles. In a city known for its wanton destruction of older buildings the Church of the Epiphany has survived the worst depredations of “urban renewal.” Epiphany is the oldest functioning church in the Diocese of Los Angeles and is one of the oldest in the entire region.
A Once-Neglected Landmark Reclaims its Heritage
Renovation of the Historic Basement
Over the past decades, the Church of the Epiphany has fallen into real disrepair. This is both the result of natural aging and deferred maintenance. What we now face is an acute situation in many areas, which if not addressed, could lead to the demise of the entire structure. A non-profit entity, the Epiphany Conservation Trust, was established in 2010 to raise funds for much needed restoration work of the Epiphany buildings. Proceeds to the trust directly fund the building restoration projects.
The first phase, begun in 2012, saw the installation of a commercial kitchen, handicapped accessibility upgrades, stone facade repair, structural foundation work, repair of windows and the building envelope, a heating system for the church and replacement of the parish hall floors and bathrooms.
In 2011 and in 2014, the Epiphany Conservation Trust was the beneficiary of two successful art auctions curated by Alma Ruiz and Sharon Lockhart, and Rita Gonzalez and Emi Fontana respectively, these two events raised about $100,000, which began the restoration work. The participating artists included John Baldissari, Barbara Kruger, Sister Corita Kent, and Ed Ruscha.
In 2017, the Church became a recipient of a special grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in which the Epiphany Conservation Trust began a Capital Campaign to continue the renovation work. Epiphany Ahora! has so far raised over $700,000 from foundations, individuals, and governmental entities, with the public phase of the campaign beginning next year.
This second phase of the renovation includes the renovation of the historic basement into meeting rooms and offices, the repair of the roofs of the Church and Parish Hall, installation of HVAC in the hall, electrical rewiring in the church, and the installation of a small elevator to the basement.
General restoration is being overseen by Escher GuneWardena Architecture of Los Angeles.
Heating and Electrical in the
Mel Green and Associates also discovered that the Church needs seismic retrofitting: the bolting of the building to its foundation, and the bolting of the roof to the building. Mr. Green has done a multi-phased investigation into the existing site conditions of the Parish Hall and Church and has made recommendations for interventions to stabilize both structures.
Our Henry Pilcher Pipe Organ was installed in 1916. It was restored in the 1980s, but the job was not thoroughly done. The bellows is ruptured and it needs refurbishment. An appraisal has been done by Manuel Rosales, who installed the pipe organ at the Disney Concert Hall. He puts the cost of restoring the organ to full working condition at $20,000.00.