Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California
Little Church of the Desert
6079 Adobe Road
Little Church of the Desert about 1940
Photo by Harlow W. Jones
Researched and written by Cheryl Erickson
In 1929 the Reverend William Carle and his wife, May, came to live in the desert for health reasons. Discovering there was no place of worship here, Reverend Carle began holding non-denominational services in the one room schoolhouse. Other pastors continued in this capacity off and on over the next several years.
In 1936 Reverend "Cap" Williamson came to officiate at the wedding of Elise Dumas and James Poste, the first wedding in the Morongo Basin. He looked around at the assembled guests and said, "You have enough people here to have a little church in the desert." And so eventually the church got its name.
In 1937 Reverend Williamson began holding services in the larger of two dressing rooms in the bath house on the American Legion grounds because the County Board of Education would no longer allow the group to meet in the schoolhouse. The National Board of Missions paid the pastor's salary. Not only the small congregation, but the community as a whole, determined that there must be a church.
The National Board of Missions provided a loan of $3000 after the community raised $2000 and acquired an appropriate parcel of land. Then the project began to move quickly.
The Lions Club made it their project for the year. Walter Berg, the builder, used his strength and energy to collect donations. The building was designed by Phil Zimmers, artist and architect, and built by William Watkins at a cost of $5670.00. Donations provided most of the furnishings, including wooden pews, bell, hymnals, folding chairs, and even an old pump organ.
The Little Church of the Desert was dedicated as a Presbyterian Church in November 1940. The day after the first service, "Cap" called on the priest of the Catholic Church and gave him a key. The Church of the Blessed Sacrament held services there until their own building was complete. The Episcopalians first met there. Other community groups, like the American Legion, also used the church. In 1947 the church became self-supporting and was no longer a mission church. The community hall was built in 1948 and the Sunday School building in 1959.
Little Church, as it is affectionately known, remains a vital and integral part of the community.
Little Church of the Desert - January 1949
After the "big" snow.
Little Church of the Desert about 1975
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