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Monday, October 15, 2007


First Baptist Church of Van Nuys

Bringing together a major regional Museum of history and culture for the San Fernando offers, what seems like, a million challenges. Our most pressing challenge at present is the establishment of a new Museum headquarters. Lots of progress is underway here - and, we ought to have some great news soon.
In the meanwhile, because history's treasures can be lost in the blinking of an eye, the Museum Community often must act when opportunities arise. Last year a Valley celebrity died and her property, including priceless documents about her life as a Valley-based entertainer were discarded. Protecting and securing historical artifacts is a never-ending responsibility.
Here are two genuine little mysteries, for those of who have grown tired of fitting in "ani" for a "blackbird" in crossword puzzles.

Puzzle Number One: (Level of difficulty - Gentle)
Examine this postcard of the First Baptist Church of Van Nuys. Is the postcard properly identified? Given the clothing of the people and the kinds of automobiles, what is your best guess about the year the postcard was made?
The historian of the present First Baptist Church might be of help.
Thanks to Gary Fredburg, Vice President of The Museum who donated the card for your Museum's postcard collection.

Puzzle Number Two: (Level of difficulty - Tough)
Phyllis Hansen, your Museum's advisor on California cultural history, is at present working on historic papers of Mrs. Armitage Forbes and Ms. Orpha Klinker, founders of the Friends of Campo de Cahuenga. Drawings and reproductions of work by the California artist, Langdon Smith have been located in the process. In 1909, Smith illustrated a book by Mrs. Forbes entitled Mission Tales in the Days of the Dons, proceeds from which helped to save California's missions and adobes.
There is a much respected poem, by one Langdon Smith entitled "Evolution". The question at hand is: Is the California illustrator also the poet?

If the challenges of history's puzzles interest you, and you care about preserving the history of the greater San Fernando Valley --- then, you might want to considering becoming part of your Museum Community.


Gerald R. Fecht said...

I seem to recall that the First Baptish Church of Van Nuys moved somewhere along the 118 freeway.
Jerry Fecht

sidestreet said...

Dear Mr. Fecht, I saw your comment about Langdon Smith. The artist is not the poet of "Evolution". I was excited to see of your discovery of some of the illustration which were used in the book by Mrs Forbes. Years ago I appraised the Langdon Smith Estate collection in which there was a number of originals of that book. L. Smith was a prolific artist with hundreds of paintings. If I can be of any help to you in regards to information , please feel free to contact me. Sincerely, Larry Peters

Beverly Franco said...

My many years at First Baptist Church of Van Nuys started at this building on the postcard. I believe that it was locatedon Sylvan, just block east of Van Nuys Blvd. Our family attended there until they purchased the property on 14800 Sherman Way. We met in a tent on the corner while the sanctuary was under construction. That is also where many services were held, until the more prestigious sanctuary was eventually built. This same building was where Carols by Candlelight were hosted each Christmas season. My years in the Choir, under the direction of John
Gustafson, were memorable and lifegiving. Royal Blue was the Youth Minister. My mom worked in the church office. A lot of rich and warm memories. Arrowpines, the church camp, Missionary circles, Young Messengers; a rich array of learning and wonderful people.

Lenita said...

After studying this photo, printing it, and checking it out with a magnifying glass, I'm pretty sure the year is around 1950, and the girl in the picture The young man is my friend, Cliff Clark. My family began attending FBCVN in 1937, and continued until 1979. I, too, was on church staff, in the music department. I was baptized here, married here, and our three sons also grew up and served here. Great memories!