First Churches of Riverside, San Bernardino County, California

Few towns of its size have so many denominations represented, as has Riverside. There are thirteen different organizations, and ten church edifices. The first church here was the Congregational, which was organized in 1872. The first church built for its use, on the corner of Vine and Sixth streets, was sold to the Disciples of Christ, when the older organization in 1887 occupied its fine new building near the center-the largest church in the city, which, with its parsonage, is worth $25,000. It contains a fine pipe organ. There are some 200 members and a flourishing Sunday school. Rev. T. C. Hunt is pastor. The Methodists organized a few months after the Congregationalists, and the church had a steady growth, the chapel originally built for its use giving way in 1881 to a fine modern building. This property, including a $2,000 parsonage, is now very valuable. The church membership has more than doubled during the past few years. Rev. W. M. Sterling is the pastor. The third church organized here was the Baptist. Notwithstanding this congregation had a struggle for existence during its first few years, it is now one of the most prosperous in the city. It has very valuable property on one of the principal business streets, the seating capacity of the church being about 400. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union has occupied the parlors of this church for several years. There is a church membership of over 225, and one of the strongest Sunday schools in the city. Rev. Charles Button was for many years the pastor, and the prosperity is largely due to his efforts. He resigned last spring, and Rev. Charles Winbigler is the present pastor. The Universalists organized in Riverside in 1881, holding services for two years in public halls. They then built a neat chapel on a principal business corner. This will probably be replaced shortly by a larger church in a quieter location. Rev. Dr. George H. Deere is the incumbent.

The Roman Catholics organized in 1886, and immediately began the erection of a brick church, costing $5,000. It has been sufficiently finished to make it available for the holding of services. When completed, it will be one of the largest and finest church edifices in the county. Father Stockman is the incumbent. Since 1885 the Church of the United Brethren has had an organization here, and it has a neat church building, erected in 1887, at a cost of about $3,000. Rev. M. S. Bovey is pastor.

A new church (Swedenborgian) organization was effected in Riverside in 1885, with twenty-five members. The congregation owns a church building, and holds regular services. Rev. B. Edmiston is pastor. All Saints’ Church (Episcopalian) is a beautiful edifice, with a parsonage attached. Among the features of the interior is a font of pure California onyx. A large surpliced choir furnishes excellent music, and many prosperous organizations are connected with the parish. The congregation is large and steadily increasing. Rev. B. W. R. Taylor is the rector.

A Second Presbyterian Church (Calvary) was organized in the city proper in 1887, beginning with over forty members. Services are held in the Young Men’s Christian Association hall. The membership is steadily increasing, and within a short time a fine church building will be erected. Rev. R. H. Hartley is pastor. There are also Swedish and German Lutheran church organizations. The Arlington Presbyterian Church is located on Magnolia avenue, three miles from the business center. It has a beautiful property amidst luxurious orange groves, and is in a prosperous condition. This church was organized in 1879. Rev. H. B. Gage is the pastor.

Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.

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