Written and photographed by Scott M B Gustafson
“Living plants feed the bodies and souls of island people in all walks of life and could be doing the same for you.”
Last week I flew to Honolulu from Los Angeles for a five-day visit with my family. My older brother, his wife and two kids upgraded their life and moved there from the Dallas suburbs a few years ago. My parents were also visiting from Florida, so it became a mini family reunion.
On the flight I read an article in “Hana Hou!”, the magazine of Hawaiian Airlines, about garden pioneer Fortunato Teho. A trained agriculturist, he graduated in 1927 from the University of Hawaiʻi and became working as a specialist on several sugar plantations. In 1948 he went to work for the University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture extension service. It was in this position that he began to write articles and do radio broadcasts about native plants. In the 1950s he became the star of his own television program called Talking To Plants and became quite the celebrity and role model for the Filipino community in the islands.
Written and Photographed by Scott M B Gustafson
Most people have seen abandoned buildings, and we are familiar with ancient ruins from the history books. But we are likely less accustomed to seeing is a modern masterpiece that has been left to decay slowly. An old factory, a decommissioned military base, a school closed up due to budgetary issues or a foreclosed home are all situations of de-habitation that do not shock us. But a forlorn church, boarded up and forgotten is a very strange occurrence.
What makes the Bethlehem Baptist Church even more curious in it’s current derelict state is that his building was granted status as Historic Cultural Monument in the City of Los Angeles in 2009. It was built in 1944 and designed by noted architect Rudolph Schindler. Considering that Schindler’s homes in the Los Angeles area routinely sell for several million dollars, it is hard to comprehend how this amazing building descended into poverty.
During the process of elevating the building to HCM status, the planning department was unable to get in contact with the owner. According to public records I researched, the property last changed ownership in December of 2012. The new owner is currently unknown, but hopefully they have plans to return this house of worship to its former glory and bring it back to a state of prominence in the community. If by chance the owner happens to read this post, MAISON ORION would love to bring our talents and services achieve that goal. A colleague of mine happens to be one the finest church architecture consultants in Southern California.
Click for a map of the property.