La Cañada church's long history documented

When a small group of La Cañada Congregational Church members first got the notion to make a list of donations and memorials made by congregants over the years, it seemed like an interesting side project.

What the small committee didn't know then was that the church historian books and records kept throughout the past century would take them on a journey, not only into LCCC's own rich beginnings, but through the development of the community and its founding families.

After two years of research, longtime church historian Sally Emerson — along with church members Joyce Holmes, Jo Anne Kennick and Carol Kulluk — compiled the "La Cañada Congregational Church History & Memorial Book."

They will present the book to the congregation for the first time Sunday, as LCCC celebrates its 117th anniversary with a luncheon. Proceeds raised from the $25 purchase price will cover printing costs and, beyond that, a fireproof cabinet in which to store historic records.

"When we started this project, it was just going to be a little bulletin kind of thing," said Emerson, who joined the church in 1961. "When it got to be 100 pages, we decided it was more of a book than a pamphlet."

More than a mere list of gifts made to the church, the 112-page book gathers together information on the people and circumstances that coalesced around the time of its creation in 1898.

"The church is really important. It's the oldest religious institution in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley," said Melissa Patton, executive director of Lanterman House, a repository of local history and the former home of Roy Lanterman, an offspring of one of LCCC's founding families.

Early LCCC bulletins were the de-facto newspaper of a nascent La Cañada, and the local Boy Scout troop originated there.

"It's really a gold mine of local history," Patton added.

In addition to a list of donations of time and money made over the past century, the new book includes a list of all the church's pastors and gives information on several momentous occasions, including donations of stained glass windows land plots and the reorientation of the sanctuary in the 1970s.

"When they started going through all our archival books, we realized there was so much history there we thought we could share with our members, and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger," said Kulluk, who helped out with the book's assembly.

La Cañada Congregational Church was founded in 1897 with a charter signed by 15 people who'd attended services for years in the home of Jacob and Ammoretta Lanterman.

The Lanterman family gave the church property at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Verdugo Road, and citizens chipped in $1,200 in donations and labor to build a sanctuary, dedicated on April 19, 1898.

Emerson, who has been the keeper of the historic records for decades, said the group planned to donate the new book to Lanterman House. She was hopeful future generations could use it as a stepping stone during their own research into LCCC's past.

There was a lot more that could have been included, Kulluk said, but the 100-page mark seemed sufficient, given the group's original aim.

"I think we could have kept on going," she said, "but you have to stop somewhere."


Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.


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