Here at BHPC, we like to consider ourselves a new church with a long history.
In 1910, Mr. Bruso began a Sunday school above a butcher shop in the new community of Beverly Hills. By 1913, a small Sunday school was meeting on the second floor of the old Woods-Beekham building. Rev. Edward Funk, a German Methodist-Episcopal minister delivered short messages to the half-dozen children that were its first attendants. Slowly, it increased in membership. In 1921, when Beverly Hills’ population reached one-thousand, it was determined that a proper church was needed.
Accordingly, plans were made for a community church. During this process, a survey was conducted in March 1921 by the Denominational Council of Superintendents of Southern California (which represented 12 protestant creeds) to determine the preferences of the Beverly Hills Residents. The survey determined that a large majority of residents preferred the Presbyterian denomination. Since Beverly Hills was at that time still a missionary field, the district allotted to the Presbyterians on the condition that the church would be conducted as a community house of worship for members of all evangelical creeds.
Dr. Robert M. Donaldson was given the assignment to organize the church, holding the first service on April 1, 1921. That service was the first organized religious service in the City of Beverly Hills. The Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church was formally instituted on August 14, 1921 as the Beverly Hills Community Church with twenty-two charter members (from various denominations, including Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, Episcopalian and Presbyterian). A charter site at Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard was provided by the Rodeo Land & Water Company and the building campaign commenced. A 96 year old widow, Mrs. G.W. Gilette, made the first donation of $1,000 to the building fund, and the Sunday school stated a Mile of Nickels fund raising initiative to furnish the Sunday school rooms. Four years later, construction of the church started (total cost of the construction came to $61,556 including furnishing and insurance). Dedication ceremonies were held on February 28, 1926. This is the same building in which we worship today.
Shortly after completion of the man building, a campaign began to raise funds to build the Christian education wing. It was completed and dedicated in May of 1927 at a total cost of about $17,000.
By 1945, the church has outgrown the original building, and the North wing with a chapel, lounge and fellowship hall were added. The fellowship hall is a memorial to Dr. Karl P. Buswell, a pastor of this church who entered his country’s service as a naval chaplain, and was killed in service on Christmas Eve 1943.
In September on 1972, the congregation voted to join with the Beverly Vista Presbyterian Church, and formed the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.