“You’ve set a high bar for the rest of the city. Even though this is a church, you’ve created a great place for the community.” These words from the Huntington Beach mayor at the ribbon cutting of First Christian Church were an affirmation that we’d done our job. The city now has a storybook streetscape on Main Street—the bungalows of Huntington Beach with First Christian’s resurrected A-frame, white siding chapel at the end.
Here’s how we got to this point:
Though located on Main Street, directly on the route of the huge annual Fourth of July parade, First Christian had been hidden from view by trees and a couple of large brick walls. They have been ministering in the community for 100 years, and it was time to remove the barriers and open the church campus back up, offering a welcoming presence to the city once again.
We tore down the brick buildings that pushed up against the property line and had blocked views into best part of church—the community of believers. We built a new kids building more inwardly, opening up two corners. Now there is an internal courtyard, which is kind of a spiral like a seashell, an essential gathering space for the multiple generations who worship here together. It’s almost like a tabernacle in the wilderness. We added a new youth building called The Shed that has roll-up doors that open into the courtyard. The administration building and café are consolidated on the other side.
The chapel that now shows up in all the Huntington Beach photos was a building that had been in existence. We cut some dormers, reclad the building in white siding so it has that beach chapel type of look, added a front porch from the courtyard, and put in a cross steeple on the Main Street side.
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