|Episcopal Church of the Ascension, (Re) Built in 1888|
Originally from Delafield, Wisconsin, Miss Frances Hawks arrived in Sierra Madre in 1881. Following her father's death in 1879, Frances and her mother Hannah moved to San Francisco, to join her brothers Ammi and Nelson. During their time in San Francisco, Fanny, as she was called, and her brother Nelson met Nathaniel Carter. Fanny, not fond of San Francisco's damp climate, traveled south with her brother Nelson (on Carter's glowing recommendation) where each bought twenty acres in Mr. Carter's new Sierra Madre Tract. Their brother Ammi soon followed and also bought 20 acres.
Frances' property ran from Grand View to Highland, and Baldwin to Merrill. As a skilled horticulturist she landscaped her yard, and eventually opened a small nursery at the corner of Baldwin and Grand View. While her original house still stands (enlarged and improved from the original one room), it is not quite visible from the street, so I can't show you a photo. But Miss Fanny's home is not her most important legacy.
Being a devout Episcopalian, Fanny was dedicated to the idea that there should be an Episcopalian church in Sierra Madre. At that time, the closest parish was The Church of Our Savior, five miles south in San Gabriel. Following a meeting with other like-minded people in the area, Fanny drove to San Gabriel and asked the Reverend Dr. Trew if he would conduct services for the group in the Sierra Madre Schoolhouse building. He agreed, and the first service was conducted in April of 1885.
Always moving forward, Fanny then promised a 1/2 acre plot of her own land, to build the town an Episcopalian church. With a generous outpouring of donations and a great deal of gift-giving (including a stained-glass window given by Abbott Kinney, of nearby Kinneloa), the new church was built, at a cost of $1760.00. The Episcopal Church of the Ascension thrived until October of 1887. Then a huge windstorm came through (probably what we now call Santa Ana winds) and the much-loved church was destroyed.
Tomorrow: The Legacy Continues...
(Source: The History of a Parish, by Catherine Turney)