The First Friends Church was built at a cost of $1,600 in 1887 by the Pickering Land & Water Company. Whittier was established as a Quaker colony, and the Friends Church was foundational to the establishment and growth of the City of Whittier. Its early history is in many ways the City's early history.
|CHU-024E. First Friends Church, 1887. Photographed by Walter E. Butler, 1875-1953. Courtesy Whittier Public Library Historical Photographs. Donated by the White Family of White-Emerson Mortuary. |
In 2017, the First Friends Church lent the Whittier Public Library photographs and documents from its archives. These illustrate the early history of the church in Whittier, including images and names of key founding figures in Whittier history.
Also included in this collection is information regarding the Kotzebue Friends Church, in Kotzebue, Alaska, originally a mission of the First Friends Church of Whittier, and still extant as of 2017. The Alaska State Digital Archives
also holds photographs of the Friends church at Kotzebue.
Included in this collection as well is information regarding the Friends Japanese Church in Norwalk, also a mission of the First Friends Church in Whittier. The Friends Japanese Church was located at Orange Street near what is now Rosecrans Avenue. The address was originally 219 Orange Street (1929), then 6470 Orange Street (1940), and 12043 E. Orange Street (1953).
Groundbreaking took place on August 30, 1924. Lydia M. Cammack of the First Friends Church held a leadership role in the formation of the new church, and the church's first minister was Reverend G. T. Hayashi. The church was dedicated on March 8, 1925. As of 1939, the minister was Reverend Ishikawa.
On April 26, 1928, the Whittier News
reported that 100 members of the Japanese Friends Church had, the day before, held their services and a picnic lunch on the banks of the San Gabriel River. On February 20, 1942, the Whittier News
ran an article in which Lydia M. Cammack urged Whittier residents to hire as house maids Japanese high school girls whose families were forced to evacuate to internment camps. On March 6, 1952, the Whittier News
(p. B1) reported that "Quakermen from Whittier First Friends Church repair and paint Saturday the ceiling of Norwalk Japanese Friends Church in preparation for reopening as an inter-racial Friends meeting house. [...] The church has been closed ever since the Japanese members were sent to internment camps." It is unclear whether the church did re-open, and if so, how long it remained open.
Click the photo or link above to view this collection.