Will a decaying Silver Lake church find salvation as a boutique hotel?

The imposing front doors to the former Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silver Lake  are locked shut, the entryway is strewn with trash and shards of broken terracotta roof tiles litter an overgrown garden. A man sleeps alongside of the building, which is topped by a rusting white cross. The church, which neighbors say has not been used on a regular basis for several years, has definitely seen better days since parishioners gathered 80 years ago to lay the cornerstone for the $75,000 Romanesque-style church and Sunday school at the corner of Griffith Park Boulevard and Lucile Street.  The church, however, may once again serve as a sanctuary – not for the faithful but for tourists and travelers wanting to bed down in Silver Lake style. The leader of this church revival is Silver Lake resident Dana Hollister, who has renovated many other neglected neighborhood buildings and helped open popular restaurants and bars, including Cliff’s Edge and the 4100 Bar.

Hollister is now taking on perhaps her most ambitious project, turning Bethany Presbyterian into a boutique hotel with 20 rooms and a “food component”  or restaurant. “I want to do something that is conservative and appropriate,” she said.

The current owners of the building, which most recently served as the home for the Pilgrim Church and a Korean congregation, approached her about taking it over, she said. The project is still in the very early stages as Hollister reviews the potential costs, profit and zoning issues associated with building and operating a hotel and restaurant out of an old church. The property does have room for off-street parking – always an issue when a new business opens up – but Hollister said the conversion would still require special city approval and public hearings.

Pilgrim Church’s Korean congregation has not used the building on a regular basis for several years, said one neighbor who complained about the building’s blighted condition. The church served for decades as the hub of an active Presbyterian congregation. In the mid 1960s, the East-West Players, an Asian-American theater company, established its headquarters at the church and staged performances at the site, according to L.A. Times articles. In 1980, the church’s once dominant Anglo congregation merged with a fast growing Korean congregation to create the Bethany United Presbyterian Church.


  1. If I remember correctly, a few years back Hollister had high hopes of razing the Sunset-Pacific (aka “Bates”) Motel eyesore and turning the property into a boutique hotel, but ultimately had to drop that plan for a lot of the same reasons she recognizes might demolish her ideas for this derelict church.

  2. They should at least have shows there – it would be such a great venue! It’s strange how Silver Lake has this rep for being a place for musicians etc. but there’s really just Silverlake Lounge (ughhhhh) and Spaceland, er, The Satellite. If they used the church for music there could be an actual mid-sized venue comparable to the Echoplex…

  3. How about the Junction Theater project (http://www.thejunctiontheatre.org/cultural-plan/theatre-ground-plan) that only a year ago was talking about turning that space into a theater? Speaking as a community member, I would Way rather have the theater then a hotel.
    If the space is turned into a hotel, PLEASE Dana HIRE LOCAL RESIDENTS TO WORK THERE. If we don’t get a theater, we should at least get some jobs.

  4. A Homeless Gentleman

    I would like to see this turned into a sprawling homeless encampment. Or alternately a dog park – dog owners pay taxes and should have a place to take dumps on the ground. Please consider!

  5. As a neighbor of the church, I am both encouraged but nervous about anything being done to the church. Although the church is beautiful and is a part of Silver Lake history, its abandoned status has turned it into a haven for posters like “A Homeless Gentleman” who camp out on the steps, sleep behind broken gates, and publicly relieve themselves (nos. 1 AND 2!!!) among the weeds. I can’t count the number of times people have set up shop on the steps during Farmers Market Saturdays and have left tons of garbage afterwards. I have been approached to buy drugs, have seen drug drop offs, and seen people busted on its steps. It would be a dream if the building was actually cared for!

    Yet. Since I live nearby, I’m concerned how the plans to turn it into a boutique hotel would affect my property values, as well as the cramped street parking situation. On that block alone, there are 5-6 vendors with alcohol licenses, plus 1 more if the hotel decides to open a bar. Even though there is a parking lot owned by the property owners (it’s about a block away), visitors would park on the street since there are no restrictions except street cleaning days.

    So I guess my plea would be for permit parking to be enforced in the area and for whatever happens, that they are respectful of the residents living in the area.

  6. The city and Hollister need to step up and provide premit parking for the neighborhood. Parking is an issue now, and will only get worse with a venue like this. If no permit parking, this resident gives a no vote!

  7. More power to her. I love the idea. She is a lady that understands
    the importance of history and architecture. Can’t wait!

  8. How wonderful ! think of all the beautiful small Hotel’s hidden around Hollywood, If any body could see this dream come true would be Dana, Ms, Holister is a true visionary, and very passionate about neighborhood preservation, This would be so difficult to have another church up and running there, we should all be concerned of the properties original Character Integrity & details, Dana will over see that with all the neighborhood concerns (who else better to restore this project?) or would you rather have another pink berry ? I support it!

  9. Dana has a design sense like no other. She also deeply appreciates and respects the historical value of things. Whatever she does is absolutely STUNNING.

    I am excited to see what she proposes for this project 🙂

  10. Ms. Hollister prides herself in “gentle gentrification,” which, taken a face value, is a noble term. However, if you look at some of her establishments – Cliff’s Edge, Bordello, the Paramour – these are exclusive hideaways for an elite few, not for the Silver Lake community. We all thank her for the 4100, a pioneering watering hole at The Junction, but she doesn’t own that anymore and a boutique hotel with fine dining will do little to serve the community. Perhaps Ms. Hollister and that Junction Theatre could do some kind of joint venture. A theatre could surely also be a great venue for all those Silver Lake musicians…

  11. the congregation to which I belong has been looking to purchase a church building in silverlake, but there are none listed as being for sale. It is sad that if this church building really is for sale that it has not been publicly listed as such. Several members of my church’s ‘search committee’ have actually expressed an interest in ‘restoring’ an old church building. If my church group bought this church then no zoning changes need to be made and it would be restored, and the area would be kept clean of debris, refuse, weeds, etc. But whoever is the owner of this church building has evidently chosen not to list the property for sale but to just let it decline.

  12. This is what the church should be used for:


  13. Theatres and churches actually have the same Zoning Classification, so turning the space into a theatre based community center would not require any zoning changes. Since Silver Lake is so diverse, that might be a more viable option than a religious use of the space.

  14. Yes, what is going on with the Sunset-Pacifica (Olive) motel now? That project disappeared from view.

  15. If anyone is interested, I believe the owner is The Presbytery of the Pacific.

  16. Well, this is a creative way to use the property. Wonder if there might be some way to combine this with what the Junction Theatre people have proposed — that would be close to ideal, I think.

  17. I like the idea of boutique hotels in Silver Lake a lot. There are zero decent lodging options in our neighborhood. And I’m tired of having to drive downtown for my nooners.

  18. Dana has done some very good projects in the area. Check with the Silver Lake NC as they will be holding public hearings on this project. We have worked with Dana on other projects.

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