By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
Blaze guts the Little Country Church of Hollywood
HOLLYWOOD, CA (ANS) -- The landmark Little Country Church of Hollywood, California, was gutted by fire on Christmas Eve.
Media reports said that no one was believed to be inside the two-story
church at 1750 North Argyle Avenue when the fire started about 6:25 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
One firefighter was treated for a hand injury at Sherman Oaks Burn Center, according to fire officials and the blaze was extinguished by 7:14 p.m.
About 55 firefighters were sent to the blaze at first but, before it was out, 137 firefighters were assigned when part of the structure collapsed in a spectacular display.
"There had been a fire there before, a few years back," according to Los Angeles Fire Captain Armando Hogan. "The federal ATF is on-scene, a purely precautionary measure to ensure this is not a hate-crime related incident. They have in the past investigated hate crimes at houses of worship."
It was unclear if the fire started in the structure, or if it started in some brush and spread to the church.
Fire officials said that the cause of the fire would be determined by the House of Worship Task Force, which includes federal and city agencies.
The Little Country Church of Hollywood had been declared a city historic-cultural landmark in 1992.
The church was built inside an old-fashioned barn in 1934 by William B. Hogg, a Tennessee preacher who may have been the nation's first radio evangelist. His religious broadcasts, on the CBS radio network, aired coast-to-coast until Hogg's death on January 14, 1937.
The Little Country Church pictured in 1997
A rural community before and during "meetin'" time provided the program's setting. Hogg and his wife played the roles of Josiah and Sarah Hopkins, a country parson and his wife. "Meetin'" time was highlighted by hymns and a message by the parson. Other participants in the program included Rudy Atwood at the organ and the Goose Creek Quartet, whose members were Thurl Ravenscroft, Al Harlan, Bill Days, and William McDougall. Characters portrayed by the quartet were Lige Guyton, Abe Snodgrass, Lem Gupton, and Jerry Potlucks.
The cast of The Little Country Church of Hollywood radio program during a broadcast
After his death, his widow, Virginia Hogg, who was known on the air as "Sister Sarah" continued the program which lasted until the early 1960s.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it was a popular setting for weddings involving Hollywood starlets and stars. Religious services ended at the 3,400-square-foot sanctuary in 1997, when a dwindling congregation could no longer afford to keep it running.
Recently, a developer had proposed turning the building into a combination church and restaurant, complete with bar.
At first firefighters were concerned that wind-driven embers from the blaze would set surrounding structures on fire, but no other damage was reported.
|Dan Wooding, 67, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 44 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. firstname.lastname@example.org.|