20 - First Baptist Church of Venice    686 Westminster Avenue

Venice Historic Tour TEST

20 - First Baptist Church of Venice    686 Westminster Avenue

Venice, California 90291, United States

Created By: preserving public places


20 - First Baptist Church of Venice

686 Westminster Avenue

The First Baptist Church in Venice’s multi-story sanctuary building is a rare surviving example in the area of a mid-century modern place of worship, a style that was popular in Baptist Church architecture through the 1960’s. There is an attached two-story assembly room and educational wing adjacent to the Church which connects to it.

Steps lead up from Westminster Avenue near the corner with 7th Avenue to a large A-frame façade of Type V construction. The primary entrance is symmetrical, covered in a stone veneer with a 26 light glass window above a pair of double slab style wood doors with stained glass sidelights. Each pair of doors is set within rectangular doorframes which lead directly into the Sanctuary Narthex. The narrow but tall Narthex, climbing to the center ridge of the A-frame, separates the Entry from the Sanctuary.

As much as the exterior is representative of a mid-century modern architectural style and tradition for Baptist Churches of the time, that reflects a more general urban environment and a more culturally assimilated sensibility, so the Church’s interior reflects the Baptist artistic tradition of decorating the Sanctuary, which created a warm and welcoming environment. With the exception of built-in features such as the stained-glass windows, decoration and ornament is subdued. The materials used reflect the modest means of the congregation. There is Burgundy carpeting on the Sanctuary floors and drapery at the entrance and the Chancel, and red drapery surrounds the stained-glass windows. Television screens at the Choir and a litany of flyers at the Narthex relay pertinent worship services and community information. A large Choir reflects that music is an important and integral component of Baptist worship services.

Architecturally, the First Baptist Church of Venice complex reflects both its Southern-States transplanted, African American origins, and its multi-generation constituency and legacy. Its design by architect George R. Williams is a reflection of the community that created it, and was made welcoming and easily accessible to pedestrians, since most members lived nearby and in general walked to the Church, Assembly Room and Classrooms for Sunday School, Sunday Worship, Monday Prayer and Wednesday Word Explosion. Features like stained-glass windows also project, to members and also to the passerby, a sense of dignity and nobility. An expression of belonging where it is, the building and its use as a community center and place of learning and worship is an integral part of the Oakwood neighborhood.

The First Baptist Church of Venice became Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument # 1244 on 9/29/2021.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Venice Historic Tour TEST


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