Community Congregation Church

173 Hall Avenue

The first church in the San Ysidro area was used by Little Landers. It was a tent dubbed “the north annex”. It had been added to the rustic Redwood Hall, a structure located in the park that served as the focus of community activities. On Sundays, Reverend Josiah Poeton, one of the original Little Landers organizers and other visiting ministers conducted Protestant church services for the Federated Church, Sunday School for the fifty children in the settlement and Christina Science services for the members of that faith. Though not a religious settlement per se, the 1909 Little Landers planned community attracted primarily middle class, white Protestants with roots in the Midwest. They had immigrated from areas that were typically homogeneous communities whose values and virtues, suggested by the Protestant ethic, were quite similar.

Although church services were conducted from the beginning of the settlement, the Community Church was not formally founded until June 8, 1913. The constitution was approved on October 12, 1913. The Church had 21 members; renting the Little Landers Hall cost $6.50 per month.

In November of 1916, a committee was appointed to select and acquire a site on which to build a permanent house of worship. However the flood of 1916, World War I, a flu epidemic and a dwindling population between 1916 and 1920 held up the project for eight years.

By acquiring community-wide donations, San Ysidro’s first permanent structure for a church was dedicated on June 29, 1924. The corner lot, purchased in 1913 by Sarah Rust, was donated to the church. She and her daughter donated the money for the stairs and windows. Frank Beyer donated money and provided supervision for the installation of the drainage and gutter systems.

Since 1909 twenty-six ministers have served the community, delivering the Gospel and performing weddings, christenings and funeral services.

In addition to being the first Protestant Church in San Ysidro, this structure is significant because it was designed by Louis Gill, the nephew of Irving Gill. Gill (born in New York in 1895, a graduate of the Architectural University of Syracuse in 1911) was associated with his uncle from 1911 until 1919. Between 1911-1914 he worked first as a draftsman and then as a partner with his uncle. Between 1920 to the late 1930s, Gill drew plans for numerous churches, hospitals, commercial buildings, apartments and parking garages. Other churches in the San Diego area built by Gill include the Sacred Heart Church in Coronado, Mission Hills Congregational, St. James by the Sea, and various Congregational Churches in San Diego, La Mesa and Del Mar. He was associated with other San Diego architects in major public building construction including the County Administration Building.

Gill had extensive knowledge of traditional Mexican architecture and many of his buildings were of this style. He was also an advocate of the Aikon Lift Method, whereby walls with windows and doors were made before the entire frame was lifted up, thereby radically reducing the overall cost of construction.

Gill designed the Congregational Church in 1924 for the community of San Ysidro.

In 1927, he designed a commercial and apartment building on San Ysidro Blvd. for R.W. Smith. (Today, The Front.)

The Architectural Drawing Collections at UCSD has plans for both these structures.

Community Congregation Church

Cited From: San Ysidro Historic Resources Survey, Conducted for: City of San Diego Palnning Department, Conducted by: Roth and Associates, Linda Roth & Judy Berryman, 14 August 1989.

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