History of Christ Faith Mission/Old Pisgah Home

Situated on a bluff high above the Arroyo Seco lies the "Echo-Hayes" section of the Garvanza neighborhood within the community of Highland Park, Northeast Los Angeles. To the Northeast of the bluff lies Santa Fe Hill and to the East across the Arroyo lies the Hermon neighborhood. To the southeast is the Ernest Debs Regional Park. The area of the Mission property was formerly part of the Rancho Santa Rafael, later sub-divided to form the Rancho Rosa de Castilla. In 1869, the area was purchased at a Sheriff's auction by Andrew Glassell and A.B. Chapman who purchased most of the Rancho San Rafael for outstanding taxes owed by the Verdugo family. The original subdivision of the Echo- Hayes area was filed in 1886, by Ralph Rogers and his partners Ed Rogers, James Booth, and W.F. McClure under the Garvanza Land Co as the Packard Arroyo Bluff tract.

Garvanza was a separate community North of Highland Park that later merged into the larger Highland Park community after annexation into the City of Los Angeles. The name Garvanza was a derivative of "Garbanzo" , a wild sweet pea that dominated the hillsides of the area. There is a movement today to bring back the Garvanza name to the Mission Site area with neighborhood signs being erected in 1997, at major intersections into the area. The area of the Mission property was annexed by the City of Los Angeles in 1899, requiring name changes for several streets. Avenue 60 was originally named Gilbert Street.

Rail operations began adjacent to the future Mission Site, before any Mission structures were built. Service commenced in 1890, for the Los Angeles Terminal Railroad. This later became the main line for the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. It was the second rail line to be opened through the Highland Park and Garvanza area and operated until being abandoned in 1969. In 1971, the portion of the line running adjacent to the Mission property was ceded to Christ Faith Mission.

Pisgah Home Founding by Dr. Finis E. Yoakum

Faith healer and social reformer, A medical doctor in Texas, Colorado, and California, Finis Yoakum (1851-1920) gave up his lucrative medical career following a personal healing miracle to found the Pisgah Home Movement in Highland Park at the Christ Faith Mission/Old Pisgah Home. Born to Franklin and Narcissa (Teague) Yoakum; his father was a country physician in Texas, who later became a minister with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and served as the president of their college in Larrisan Texas. A younger brother, Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, was an important figure in American commerce, serving as president of the San Antonio and Arkansas Pass Railway and chairman of the board for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad ("Frisco") as well as several other major railroads and business enterprises.

In 1873, Finis took a wife, Mary. They had three sons and twin daughters. Yoakum studied at Larissa College ultimately graduating from the Hospital College of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky, with the M.D. degree on June 16, 1885. Following medical school, he specialized in neurological disorders and finally occupied the Chair of Mental Disease on the faculty of the Gross Medical College in Denver, Colorado.

On the evening of July 18, 1894, while on his way to organize a Class Leader's Association for his Methodist Church, Finis Yoakum was struck by a buggy operated by a drunken man. A piece of metal pierced his back, broke several ribs, and caused internal hemorrhaging. A medical assessment of his injuries predicted them to be fatal. Plagued by infection for several months, he moved to Los Angeles hoping to gain relief in its mild climate. In early 1895, he made a miraculous recovery during a dramatic healing experience and by the Summer of that year he was again practicing medicine. After his recovery Dr. Yoakum received visions directing him to create a mission for the needy. He soon turned his home at 6044 Echo Street into a mission moving himself and his family into a tent adjacent to his home. The site soon grew with additions to his original Queen Anne home and the conversion of an adjacent barn as a new tabernacle that also doubled as a dormitory. He vowed to spend the remainder of his life serving the chronically ill, poor destitute, and social outcasts. This is what gave rise to the Mission Site still operating today.

While in Los Angeles, he associated with a number of churches speaking on divine healing and hosting many camp meetings at the Mission site or along the Arroyo Seco two blocks to the east. During the Azusa Street revival gatherings in Los Angeles (credited as the founding movement of the Pentecostal Church) he hosted many followers at the Mission site in Highland Park. He named his Mission site, Pisgah Home after the hill where Moses stood to view the promised land. By 1915, he had built an impressive Tudor home just three blocks from the Mission at 140 S. Avenue 59. Most of the labor to build this home came from Mission residents.

Headquartered from Christ Faith Mission on Echo Street, Dr. Yoakum created a variety of outreach ministries throughout the Los Angeles area. These efforts were called Pisgah, giving the Mission Site the additional name as headquarters for many of these efforts. In 1911, Pisgah Home provided regular housing for 175 workers and stable indigents and made provisions for an average of 9,000 clean beds and 18,000 meals monthly to the urban homeless, the poor, and the social outcasts, including alcoholics, drug addicts, and prostitutes. Each week, Yoakum sent his workers throughout Los Angeles to distribute nickels for the cost of trolley fare to Pisgah Home. Other activities included the nearby Pisgah Store, Pisgah Ark (recovery House for Women), Pisgah Gardens (rehabilitative center, orphanage, and farm in North Hollywood), Pisgah Grande (3,225 acres for a utopian community in Chatsworth), and a later donation of a 500 acre retreat center and farm in Tennessee.

Christ Faith Mission

After the death of Dr. Yoakum in 1920, Pisgah Home was purchased by Christ Faith Mission Inc. under the directorship of Arglee F. Green. Ms. Green and her sister conducted a restoration of Pisgah Home and renamed it "Echo Home", as it was called in the 1920's, to its original social and spiritual mission of service to the less fortunate in the community. Amy Semple McPherson also conducted services in the Arroyo Seco during the 1920's to tens of thousands of worshipers who later retreated to the Mission site for massive barbecues and meetings. The Mission remained under the direction of Ms. Green and her sister until 1950, with the new appointment of the Reverend Harold James Smith as managing Minister.

Reverend Harold James Smith and Old Pisgah Home 1950-1993

Reverend Smith came to the management of the Mission operations with a vision for its revival not experienced since Dr. Yoakum's passing. Reverend Smith created a broadly based ministry with newsletters, a syndicated radio program, and an active spiritual site that exposed the Mission and its goals around the world. For thirty years the Herald of Hope Radio broadcasts, hosted by Reverend Smith, emanated from the Mission in the "Prayer Tower" at the rear of the original Mission structure. It was Reverend Smith who re-named the site to Old Pisgah Home, restoring its historic name. He also began publication of a salvation and healing tabloid, "Herald of Hope Newspaper". During these years several surrounding properties were added to the original Mission property through purchase or outright donation. The former railroad right-of-way adjacent to the Mission was also ceded to Christ Faith Mission in 1971.

Christ Faith Mission/Old Pisgah Home Since 1993

Today Christ Faith Mission/Old Pisgah Home is to expanded to include a Senior Facility, creating a larger village atmosphere for more residence at the Mission site seeking assistance and a quality environment to live. An expanded Pisgah Home would embody the original desire to help and serve as envisioned by Dr. Yoakum over a century ago.

Site Description Community Context

Highland Park is oriented along the Figueroa Street and the Arroyo Seco Parkway (Pasadena Freeway) corridor. The Cities of Pasadena and South Pasadena are located to the east. Highland Park is a diverse community, which includes many neighborhoods with their own identities such as Garvanza, Hermon, and Mt. Angelus. It is one of the oldest "streetcar suburbs" of Los Angeles being developed along rail connections between Los Angeles and Pasadena. Medium and high density development exists throughout the community, reflecting long standing zoning at R3 and R4 levels (medium to high density residential zoning classifications). The surrounding housing stock includes structures from the 1880's to the present. Actions in 1994 were taken by the City of Los Angeles to protect the community's historic character through the adoption of an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.

There is also a diversity of commercial uses consisting of mom-and-pop corner grocery stores, historic pedestrian-oriented shopping districts, and mini-mall type developments. The main commercial street in Highland Park is Figueroa Street, one block to the West. It is identified as a Los Angeles Neighborhood Center corridor. This has allowed it to be part of the Los Angeles Neighborhoods Initiative (LANI) to revitalize many pedestrian oriented needs along the corridor occurring in 1995 and 1996. Many improvements included added street lighting, benches, bus shelters, and improved signage in the area. The proposed Blueline, light rail route from Los Angeles to Pasadena, will run along the existing railroad right of way between Figueroa Street and Monte Vista Street. Other commercial uses are located along York Boulevard and scattered throughout the area. The Blueline will pass within 200 feet of the Mission Site to the Northwest with the nearest station being four blocks to the West at Avenue 57 and Marmion Way.

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