People & Places

BEST TIME WARP Los Angeles 2009 

Angelus Temple

Apart from Dodger Stadium, Angelus Temple, completed in 1925, is Echo Park's most formidable structure, a colossal house of worship crowned by a silver-painted dome. Yet nestled up to the great building is the parsonage home of the Foursquare Gospel movement's founder, Aimee Semple McPherson. Until fairly recently, the parsonage was a gutted shell locked behind a wrought-iron fence, but it's been cheerfully restored and presents, behind its rose bushes, a time warp to a long-vanished Los Angeles of blind faith. Built as a kind of miniature version of the temple, the parsonage has a classical, cylindrical design. Inside, many of its charismatic tenants recovered belongings are arranged as though McPherson had just stepped out. It's a little top-heavy on framed letters and testimonials, and the silent narrative that emerges from its walls of photographs, along with its vintage clothing and kitchen appliances, conveniently skirts details of her scandalous "kidnapping," her conservative political views and her death from an apparent drug overdose. (A short documentary loop and videotaped puppet-theater biography steer us toward McPherson's more heroic work of feeding the hungry and healing the sick.) Nevertheless, the world seems to stand wonderfully quiet once the afternoon sun filters through the curtains on the lake-facing windows, and the terrible stillness of McPherson's bedroom, with its hardwood floor and purple drapes, makes a poetic counterpoint to the clamor of the gift collection that awaits the visitor in the parlor room downstairs. The receptionists are very friendly and informative. 1801 Park Ave., Echo Park. (213) 989-6969, foursquarechurch.org. Mon.-Fri., 1-3 p.m., or by appointment; free.

—Steven Mikulan

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