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Going Full Circle: New High School Partner Is Actually An Old Friend

Sequoyah’s plan to lease the educational buildings of the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church to house its high school has been widely announced, but what some may not know is that the church that will be the school’s new partner was originally located on Sequoyah’s K-8 campus. In 1887, the original church, at that time a Congregationalist church, was constructed on the land that is currently Sequoyah’s athletic field. In 1954, the children’s chapel (Sequoyah’s current library) was completed, and in 1956, the educational buildings were built.

When Sequoyah School was first established in 1958, their classrooms were housed in the church’s educational buildings. Sequoyah shared the site with the church until 1968, when CalTrans bought the campus for $720,000. In 1974, in anticipation of the 710 freeway extension, the original church was demolished. However, the school’s neighbors revolted against the freeway, and as a result managed to postpone its constr uction.

In 1968, with the church set to be razed, the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalists started construction on their current location at 301 N. Orange Grove Boulevard, directly adjacent to the Gamble House. The church expanded on the structures built by the architectural firm Greene and Greene in 1908, including the main church offices, which are housed in the iconic Cole House, with a rare-for-its-time porte cochère and huge chimney built of arroyo stones. The church hired architect Whitney Smith, who designed the educational buildings and children’s chapel at the original site, to design their new sanctuary. In 1972, the church’s new buildings were completed; however the church has received many renovations since, due to various complications, including termite and dry rot damage, an incident when a huge bell fell from the belfry through the roof, and extensive flooding of the sanctuary’s pipe organ.

In 1992 the current church repair was completed, and in 2000 the church’s educational buildings, designed Douglas Ewing, a former apprentice to Whitney Smith, were completed. In 2001 Saint Monica’s Academy, a private 1st-12th- grade Catholic school, took up residence in the church’s new education buildings. As of 2014, however, Saint Monica’s has too many students to continue to function at the site. By 2016, the classrooms will be empty and ready for Sequoyah to set up shop.