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Guide to the Old San Diego Community Church Records MS 219
MS 219  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

  • Title: Old San Diego Community Church Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 219
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.75 Linear feet (2 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1938-1970
    Abstract: The collection contains materials related to the development, administration, and activities of the Old San Diego Community Church, as well as the surrounding Old Town San Diego neighborhood.
    creator: Old San Diego Community Church.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 2001.091.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Lauren Rasmussen on April 4, 2012.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Preferred Citation

    Old San Diego Community Church Records, MS 219, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    The Old San Diego Community Church, also called the Old Town Community Church, was an Evangelical Protestant church founded in 1941. The plan for the Church stemmed from the results of the 1941 Old Town census which found that the majority of the area’s families identified as Protestant, but there was no community church in the neighborhood. Original Sunday services were held in the Old San Diego Chamber of Commerce building until August 1, 1942 when George Marston, a local philanthropist, helped the Church purchase the Casa de Machado adobe in Old Town. Under Reverend Joseph S. Fox, the adobe was renovated and renamed the Machado Memorial Chapel. Reverend Fox served the church until 1951, when he retired to do field work for the International Council of Community Churches. Reverend Fox was later installed as Pastor Emeritus at the Church’s 20th anniversary celebration in 1962.
    The Church served as the home to the local Boy Scout Troop and the Old Town Men’s Club. The Church had close ties with the San Diego Historical Society, the San Diego Historical Days Association, and the International Council of Community Churches. Between 1963 and 1964, the Church began to feel pressure from the California State Parks Department and the San Diego City Council to vacate the Machado Chapel so that an historical ‘Old Town Park’ could be established. In 1967, the State offered the congregation $225k to purchase the Church’s land. The offer was unanimously rejected by the Church. Despite the efforts of the congregation and the presiding minister, Reverend Robert D. Edwards, the Church was eventually forced out and held its last services in the Machado Memorial Chapel on August 3, 1969. It appears that the Church considered purchasing additional land in Old Town to re-establish themselves, but this plan never came to fruition.

    Scope and Content

    The collection spans from 1938, during the years of the Church’s development, to 1970, shortly after the building was taken over by the State. The documents primarily consist of Church records, including by-laws, meeting minutes, administrative reports, and correspondence. Several sermons and service programs are also present, as are newspaper articles related to church activities. A small section of miscellaneous items regarding the organizations the Church was involved with are also present. This includes issues of the San Diego Historical Society’s newsletter, ‘The Historic’, pamphlets for the International Council of Community Churches, and bylaws of the San Diego Historical Days Association. Of note are the church’s Negotiating Committee meeting minutes and Church correspondence that includes letters with State and City representatives regarding the dispute over the Old Town Historical Park development. The Church also kept materials related to the Old Town neighborhood that include maps, event flyers, and community newsletters.


    The collection is arranged into three series:
    Series I: Old San Diego Community Church Records
    Series II: Old Town San Diego
    Series III: Miscellanea
    Items within each series are arranged by subject.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    Some documents are brittle or warped around the edges. (April 4, 2012)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bentley, Robert A.
    Edwards, Robert D.
    Fox, Joseph S.
    International Council of Community Churches.
    Marston, George White, 1850-1946
    Old San Diego Community Church.
    Page, Willard A.
    San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
    San Diego Historical Society.
    Sanders, Robert E.
    Casa de Machado (San Diego, Calif.)
    Christian communities
    Community churches
    Independent churches
    Machado de Silvas adobe (San Diego, Calif.)
    Machado Memorial Chapel (San Diego, Calif.)
    Old Town (San Diego, Calif.)
    Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (Calif.)
    Protestant church buildings
    Religious communities
    Religious institutions
    San Diego (Calif.)