DispL.A. Case #7: Aimee Semple McPherson’s Bible


The history of Los Angeles as told through 232 objects.

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781. Between now and the 232nd anniversary, we are gathering the stories behind iconic objects that help explain our city. Los Angeles is older than Chicago, Atlanta or Washington, D.C. In fact, when L.A.’s founders were gathering at El Pueblo, New York City was still occupied by the British army. We have a long story to tell, let’s take a look back and see where the city came from. Feel free to add to this exhibition. Email your ideas to [email protected]

The big white dome of the Angelus Temple has overlooked Echo Park Lake since 1923. The church was built by colorful evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and held more than 5000 people, but that wasn’t enough souls for Sister Aimee. She installed two enormous antennas on the roof to broadcast her radio gospel all over Southern California. McPherson employed high production values in her theatrical sermons that caught the attention of celebrities like Jean Harlow and Mary Pickford, as well the thousands of Angelenos that filled the church for five services a day. She came to Los Angeles in a “gospel car,” a Packard convertible painted with bible quotes, and soon the one-time faith healer was at the helm of a new ministry. The unusual circumstances surrounding her high-profile arrest, Venice beach kidnapping, a subsequent trial and her mysterious death at the height of her popularity kept the city talking about the charismatic preacher for decades. The Foursquare Gospel church she founded just off Sunset Boulevard continues today, with over 8,000,000 members in 144 countries. Her restored home next door is now a museum filled with artifacts like this original bible.

DispL.A. Case #6: The Stop Sign

DispL.A. Case #5: The Academy Award

DispL.A. Case #4: The McDonald’s Hamburger

DispL.A. Case #3: Richard Neutra’s Boomerang Chair

DispL.A. Case #2: The Navel Orange