The Bethlehem Baptist Church (1944)
by Rudolph Michael Schindler (1887-1953)
South-west corner of Compton Ave. and E 49th St.
In South LA, there is a little church building that was designed by R. M. Schindler. The church was commissioned and built in Schindler’s iconic modernist style for an African-American congregation in an urban setting, and is probably the only mid-century modern in South LA. But it was all but abandoned and boarded up for at least the past decade, and fell into blight.
Starting around late 2013, a new congregation moved in. With the help of the LA Conservancy and a 2009 LA City Historic-Cultural Monument designation, the congregation has been quietly repairing and renovating the property, which is how I found it when I stumbled upon it in February.
I had always known about the legendary and derelict Schindler church in South LA, but had never had to opportunity to visit it. Which is why when I biked past it, I was surprised to find that not only were the windows replaced and the graffiti painted over, but also the gates were open. Some of the church members were working on site, and let me walk through the architectural gem. They even unlocked the access to the roof for me.
The congregation will be holding an Open House on April 12th, 2014. 4901 Compton Ave.