The “Wicked City” LibraryJan 5th, 2016 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
I have one more Wicked City location up my sleeve (for the time being, at least – I did track down a couple of others after watching the recently-released final five episodes, but have yet to stalk them) – the former Second Church of Christ, Scientist in West Adams, which masked as an L.A. library in “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” I have long been familiar with the stately, domed structure thanks to my many area stalkings (Fatty Arbuckle’s former house is located on the same street, as is the oft-filmed St. Vincent de Paul Church) and recognized it immediately upon viewing the episode. I had never done a proper stalking of it, though, and promptly dragged the Grim Cheaper right on over there to remedy that a couple of weeks ago.
Second Church of Christ, Scientist was designed by architect Alfred H. Rosenheim, who also designed the American Horror Story house. The prolific Albert C. Martin, Sr. (of Million Dollar Theatre, Los Angeles City Hall and Thomas Higgins Building fame) acted as the engineer. The massive Italian Renaissance-style structure, which was modeled after the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, aka the “Mother Church,” took more than two years to complete at a cost of $318,000. Its doors were opened to the public on January 23rd, 1910.
The property, which was built out of terracotta, brick, stucco and granite, was so grand that, according to the Big Orange Landmarks website, a 1908 Los Angeles Times article deemed it “the largest and most elaborate church west of Chicago.”
At the time of its completion, the interior featured a pipe organ, mahogany woodwork, stained glass windows, wainscoting throughout, and seating for 1,200 churchgoers.
The site’s most impressive feature, though, was – and still is – its 130-foot tall copper-clad, poured-concrete dome, which according to Big Orange Landmarks, measures 70 feet in diameter and weighs 1,400 tons.
The green-tinted dome seems to sparkle in the sunlight and only adds to the grandeur and beauty of the already picturesque church, which was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1968.
Due to declining membership and the high cost of maintaining the property, Christian Science Church vacated the building in 2008. The empty structure proved attractive to vandals, who spray painted the once stately structure with graffiti and broke many of its stained glass windows.
In December 2009, the site was sold to The Art of Living Foundation, a non-profit organization that teaches meditation, yoga, breathing, and emotional balance. The group lovingly repaired the damage done to the property and today use it as their main headquarters.
The former Second Church of Christ, Scientist played a significant role in Wicked City’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”
Masking as a local library, it is there that Kent Grainger (Ed Westwick) leaves the head of one of his murder victims among the stacks of books for detectives Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto) and Paco Contreras (Gabriel Luna) to find.
I initially thought that the actual inside of the former church had also been used in the filming of the library scenes, but as soon as I looked through these interior photographs of the place I realized that was not the case.
As it turns out, interior filming took place at DC Stages, a downtown Los Angeles studio that has been around since 1988. The facility, which was originally called Dos Carlos Stages, is situated inside of a a former perishable food storage center and boasts several standing sets including that of a police station, a city hall, a courthouse, political offices, a hospital, a jail, apartments, hotel rooms, a restaurant, and, of course, a library. You can check out a drone video shot of the various sets here and some some photographs here. What I wouldn’t give to see the inside of that place in person!
Many sources state that the Second Church of Christ, Scientist was used regularly as the Fulton County Courthouse on the television series Matlock, but I have not been able to verify that. I downloaded a couple of episodes to scan through and in each of them a different building masked as the courthouse, neither of which was the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, as you can see below. The series aired for nine seasons, though, so it is quite possible the West Adams church did make an appearance (or several appearances) at some point during that run.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Second Church of Christ, Scientist, aka the Wicked City library, is located at 948 West Adams Boulevard in University Park. DC Stages, which was used for the interior library scenes, is located at 1360 East 6th Street in downtown L.A. Be advised that the studio facility is not open to the public.