Setting out in to record Los Angeles’ unheralded religious history, photographer Robert Berger had no idea he would visit over 300 historic houses of worship over the course of nearly four years. Wandering through neighborhoods that seemed as foreign as distant lands, looking for steeples, crosses and domes vaulting towards the sky, he began to appreciate the vast metropolis, its wide range of ethnicities, and its constantly changing landscape. Mostly unknown to anyone but their congregations, many of these historic buildings are threatened by neglect. In some cases he found well preserved gilded reredos an Della Robbia statues while in others animal carcasses and pigeon droppings. The wide variety of sacred buildings include works by such well-known architects as Rudolph Schindler and Wallace Neff, modest neighborhood parishes by unknown designers, and opulent fantasias created by movie-studio art directors.
Lively text by noted architectural historian Alfred Willis reawakens the colorful history of these buildings with tales of celebrity weddings and the mysterious disappearance of evangelist Aimée Semple McPherson. The oldest synagogue west of Chicago was later converted to a Welsh Presbyterian church whose choir performed in ‘How Green Was My Valley’.
SACRED SPACES is a journey into a little-known but glorious set of buildings that will enlarge the reader’s appreciation for how much beautiful architecture remains hidden, and in some cases endangered, in America’s second largest city.