1st San Diego Church History

First Church of Christ, Scientist
San Diego, CA



First Church of Christ, Scientist, San Diego was incorporated in 1897. During its early years, services were held in parlors and meeting halls. In 1903, Christian Science was growing in popularity, and there was a need to establish a church building.

The church hired a young architect named Irving Gill. He designed a small brick building at the corner of 3rd and Ash (where the building remains today in nearly original condition). The seating capacity was only 300, and soon two services were required on Sunday mornings. By 1908 it was clear that more seating would be required, and a lot was purchased at the corner of 2nd and Laurel, our existing location.

Irving Gill was rehired and the new building was designed, approved and constructed in a 12-month span with dedication services being held on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. The dedication was covered by the press due to the popularity of Christian Science. The Gill design — in mission style — was notable for the period. The church was on the Mayor’s tour list for visiting dignitaries as a symbol of San Diego’s progressive movement.



During the 1950s, First Church underwent a modernization remodel, in which archways, stained glass windows and the interior glass dome were removed. The building lost its mission-style appearance and much of the natural light that had poured into the interior of the church.

In the mid 1980s, it was discovered that the structure needed repairs from being overloaded as a result of the modernization remodel. Insufficient funds to make the repairs nearly resulted in complete demolition of the building. Prayerful consideration of the situation resulted in the church receiving a bequest which allowed the membership not only to consider structural repairs, but a full building restoration.

The church building today, designated as an historical landmark by the City of San Diego, is a result of consecrated prayer and a masterful example of the architects, artisans and workers who contributed to the restoration.

Come, step inside what Dr. David Gebhardt, architectural historian from UC Santa Barbara proclaimed “...one of the most important restorations of the 20th Century.” Tours and further historical information are available after each Sunday Service.

Hundred Year Harvest Celebration

On November 6, 2010, First Church of Christ, Scientist, San Diego celebrated its 100th anniversary. The celebration was highlighted by a historic look back to the era when the church was built. The program included a spiritual talk by renowned speaker Julio Rivas. The finale of the program was a lively band rendition of spiritual music by the Living Love Band.

The Organ

The organ is an original Murray Harris Pipe Organ. It has been heralded as “one of the last unspoiled pipe organs built by the Murray M Harris Co.” of Los Angeles, California. Restored in 2005, the organ consists of 1,732 pipes made of zinc, tin, lead alloy and redwood. It has 29 ranks, 3 manuals, 12 general pistons and 32 levels of memory. The Compass of manuals is 61 and the number of pedals 32. 

Come and visit our church and Reading Room.