Santa Cruz County History - Architecture

Garfield Park Tabernacle and Garfield Park Christian Church, 30 Errett Circle, Santa Cruz, California
by Daniel McMahon

The Northern California Convention of the Disciples of Christ searched for a new place to hold their annual conventions in the late 1880's, and settled on a site on the westside of Santa Cruz. The Tabernacle shown was dedicated on Aug. 31, 1890, and had enough seating inside for 2000 people. The Tabernacle was extremely tall, and was easily visible from the Cliff Drive.

Photo of Garfield Park Tabernacle
The Garfield Park Tabernacle

This photo is believed to be from the dedication of the tabernacle on Aug. 31, 1890. Note the absence of all but a few cottages in the surrounding area. The cottages visible had all been built on lots sold after the plans for the tabernacle began. [Photo courtesy of Tish Payne].

A series of circular streets were laid out around the tabernacle, and the small lots on these streets were sold for houses. Initially, many small cottages were built, and some of these were used by people attending the annual conventions in July or August of each year. Many of these cottages are still standing today, especially on Errett Circle. When the plan for this entire development was first announced, it was named Garfield Park in honor of James Garfield, the recently assassinated 19th president of the United States, and a preacher in the Disciples of Christ. The Convention of Christian Churches later announced that the official name of the development was "Christian Park" but the name Garfield Park stuck, and remains in use to this day.

Plan of Circles Neighborhood
Plan for Garfield Park and Circles, 1889

This plan appeared in the Santa Cruz Surf on Sept. 19, 1889. Lots in the surrounding area, were sold at an auction within the tabernacle in Sept. 1890, for prices of 105 to 135 dollars. At that time there were already seven cottages built in the circles.

Lithograph of the Circles
Early View of Garfield Park

This early lithograph of the "circles" neighborhood was published in the Santa Cruz Surf in September 1890, and reproduced in Harrison's History of Santa Cruz County in 1892.

End of the Tabernacle

The tabernacle burned down on Aug. 5, 1935. The circular lot it sat on lay empty until 1958, when a new Garfield Park Christian Church was built. The congregation met across Errett Circle, in a smaller hall owned by the church, from 1935 to 1958.

Photo of 1935-1958 Church
The Garfield Park Christian Church 1935-1958

This photo is taken from inside Errett Circle, with California Ave. on the left, running into the distance. The Church is on the right, and the three buildings to the left are still standing today (1996). The two in the rear were both church property. The small church, built in 1914, was torn down after construction of today's church in 1958. Photo courtesy of Rev. Ed Muegee.

The tabernacle was not just an imposing edifice, and the largest auditorium in town for many years. It was the focal point of the circular street design of that Westside neighborhood long known as "the circles."

Last updated 18 February 1997. Copyright 1997 Daniel McMahon. Reproduced by permission of the author.

View similarly tagged articles:

churches, Garfield Park


It is our continuing goal to make available a selection of articles on various subjects and places in Santa Cruz County. Certain topics, however, have yet to be researched. In other cases, we were not granted permission to use articles. The content of the articles is the responsibility of the individual author. It is the Library's intent to provide accurate local history information. However, it is not possible for the Library to completely verify the accuracy of individual articles obtained from a variety of sources. If you believe that factual statements in a local history article are incorrect and can provide documentation, please contact the Webmaster.