Last Rites for an EarlyChurch
Jan. 12, 1907
For half a century, the Baptist Church of El Monte and the Mason’s Lexington Lodge No. 104 shared a clapboard building on Main Street, the worshipers on the first floor and the Masons, as always, on the second.
Then came the developers and the urge to grow.
“Seized with the thrill of the new trolley boom, the lodge members are about to put up a new Masonic temple; the Baptists, who have shared quarters with the Masons of El Monte for more than 50 years, are also said to be ambitious for a new place,” The Times says.
Taking the original name of the settlement, the Masons founded Lexington Lodge in May 1853, making it one of the oldest in California, and sent for regalia that came around the Horn from the East. One of the early lodge members, Elkenna Parrish, can still be seen driving his buggy around El Monte, The Times says.
The Baptists, meanwhile, built the first Baptist church south of the Tehachapi, using ox teams to haul lumber from San Bernardino. The Rev. J.C. Freyer arrived after a six-month journey from Alabama and was the first Baptist minister ordained in Southern California, The Times says.
The Baptists had outgrown the structure, built in 1866, and wanted a new church, but the Masons refused to yield their half, so they purchased the building in 1906 in an attempt to save it. By the next year, however, they agreed to let the small, old building come down.
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