Verdugo Views: Public can see First Methodist Church of Glendale’s revamped entry

Ground was broken for the First United Methodist Church of Glendale’s renewal project to open up its entry this past May. Project chair Steve Cameron, from left, is pictured along with contractor Fernando Ayala and architect John Deenihan.
(Courtesy of Vic Pallos)

More than 115 years have passed since a group of local residents organized what is now the First United Methodist Church of Glendale.

In the ensuing years, the congregation has built three sanctuaries. The first was a wood-frame structure at Wilson Avenue and Dayton Court.

As the town grew, so did the congregation. By 1914, with space at a premium, they embarked on a new building campaign and, in 1917, dedicated a red brick veneer building at Wilson and Kenwood Street.

The congregation continued to prosper and, in 1953, began raising funds for the church’s third sanctuary, a modernist building at Kenwood and Broadway, known as the Methodist Cathedral of the West, which was dedicated in 1961.

The church “soars to a height of 100 feet and the massive stained glass windows provide ever-changing light,” according to the Oct. 4, 2003, edition of the Glendale News-Press.

Soon after the third sanctuary was built, a quiet place for prayer and meditation was created. Although it was walled, it was accessible to the community, said Richard C. Garner, the church’s current senior pastor, in a recent email.

“The walls were erected to set aside the area to the south and east of the sanctuary with an opening on Broadway. There were two reflecting pools, at least one fountain, a few symbols, and a number of wooden benches connected to brick walls which surrounded planters,” he said.

But within a few years there were problems, Garner added. The benches fell off the walls as a result of weather, the pools were misused and then dangerous, the fountain was removed and the symbols taken away. Eventually, gates were erected to attempt to limit access to this area.”

Over the years, there was some thought about opening up the area to greater access for the public,” Garner wrote.

Steve Cameron, who has attended First Methodist since 1966 with his wife, Marianne, was one of those who felt the area should be reopened.

In 1986, the proponents presented their ideas to the church’s board of trustees but “there was enough resistance, perhaps to any change, that the project did not move forward,” according to Garner’s email.

“Then about six years ago,” he added, “the conversation was resurrected,” mainly because of the need for elevator access to the lower floor containing the music center and offices and the need for a family restroom on the main floor.

“Generally, the idea was to make the campus more available for all,” Garner said.

This year, nearly 34 years after the first proposal to redo the entry, board members voted to include a revamped entry into the church.

Cameron became chair of the building committee, which includes Henry Costales, Sheldon Haase, John Oh, Gigi Schmutzer, Sam Weissen, Joylene Wagner and Garner.

At the groundbreaking in May, architect John Deenihan and construction contractor Fernando Ayala were introduced.

In an email, Cameron said the wall in front of the church has been removed. Now, there are trees, planters, flowers and a ramp.

“People driving or walking by will be able to see the beauty of our church sanctuary for the first time since 1964,” Cameron wrote.

Garner concluded, “We recognize that the church has been hidden to those walking or driving along Broadway.”

Taking down the wall means that “the congregation will need to create more ways to be in contact with the community even as it moves out into the area to offer itself in ministry,” he added.

After 48 years in Glendale, the Camerons recently moved to Santa Clarita, but they still return on Sundays to attend church. And, now they, and others, will enjoy the results of a 34-year-old idea.

To the Readers

A recent email from Richard C. Patterson, of Niceville, Fla., said he was thankful for the Verdugo Views column on Feb. 11, 2017, about his great aunt, Gloria Talbott, and their mutual relatives, including Benjamin F. Patterson and Orin E. Patterson.

“Orin was my grandfather’s dad,” he wrote.

Another of his family members, Donald Eldon Patterson, who was born in the early 1900s, helped build Highway 18 from San Bernardino to Big Bear.

“I loved the info provided, and I am still looking for more information about their past. If you have any additional info on any of them, please let me know. I remember that Aunt Dorothy and Gloria attended my father’s funeral (Richard Lester Patterson) in 1991. I just don’t have the research experience to find more about them,” he added.