The History of Westminster Presbyterian Church and its Sanctuary
Westminster Presbyterian Church Pasadena began in 1906, when a group of pioneering Presbyterians who originally worshiped at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church decided to extend its activities to the Northeast area of Pasadena. Three lots were purchased on Lake Avenue and Claremont Street for $2,800 and a chapel was built and furnished for another $2,000. A call was extended to Rev. William E. Dodge to take charge of the chapel and on Sunday, July 1, 1906, the church was opened for service. On June 14, 1908, 51 charter members organized and Westminster Church saw its final act of organization.
David McPherson, an engineer who built, with Thaddeus Lowe, the Mt. Lowe Railway, was a member of the church and served as a Trustee. Thinking a new site was needed, McPherson worked to see the church relocated further north on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. On December 11, 1908, a new site was purchased and soon after the chapel (known as Dodge Chapel) was relocated. The first service in the new location at Lake Avenue and Woodbury Road was held on January 31, 1909.
The congregation continued to grow and serve the community and in 1926, plans were laid to build a new, larger, sanctuary. Under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Josiah Sibley, the French Gothic style building (seen today) was constructed with the assistance of renowned architectural firm Marston, Van Pelt, and Maybury and contractor Clarence Day. Judson Studios was contracted to provide stained glass windows. The cornerstone was laid on October 23, 1927.
November 25, 1928 saw the dedication of the new church. Built in the French Gothic style of architecture, it has arched windows, a tower, a cruciform plan, and a stone exterior. Influenced by the grand cathedrals of Europe, the main entrance was inspired by the Cathedral at Metz and the Eglise St. Maclou in Rouen, which also inspired the design of our tower.
The three large Rose Windows (Emerald/South, Sapphire/North, and Ruby/East) are reminiscent of those in Beauvais and Amiens.
Our tower, rising 150 feet above Lake Avenue, can be seen from miles away and serves as a beacon.
Our organ was built and erected by the Reuter Organ Co. Its Great, Swell, Choir, and Solo chambers open on the north and south walls of the chancel, while the Echo chamber is in the tower opening into the gallery. Our organ has 38 sets of pipes, with 2,678 pipes, ranging in length from 16 feet to a 1/2 inch; 71 speaking stops; 34 couplers; 37 manual pistons. In the echo organ is a set of Deagan cathedral chimes of 25 tubes. The choir organ has a Kohler-Liebich harp of 61 bars.
Today, our sanctuary and tower remain a Pasadena Landmark on Lake Avenue.