History of 4th Church
New Basin Canal at West End and Polk, 1949
Excerpts from Lakeview Presbyterian Church 1912-1937: Between History and Hope
"'At the beginning of the 20th Century that part of New Orleans now known as Lakeview was a cypress swamp. Civilization consisted of families of fishermen living along Lake Pontchartrain's southern shore at today's Robert E. Lee Boulevard. Railways exended from the city to West End, Spanish Fort, and Milneburg, suburban resort areas along the lake's edge.
Between 1900 and 1910, the New Orleans Land Company began to drain the area near the New Basin Canal (now the broad neutral ground between Pontchartrain and West End Boulevards) with canals along what are now Milne, Canal, and Argonne Boulevards, as well as Harrison and Florida Avenues. By 1911, a few homes had been built on West End Boulevard (at first called Julia Street), and the first Lakeview real estate development was being planned for Homedale Subdivision. There were no churches. . . .
A group petitioned the Presbytery in February of 1912 to organize a church. This was done under the care of the Mission Committee of the Presbytery (which paid the minister's salary). . . . In June of 1912, the new church bought property at Polk and Catina Streets for $1,000 ($333.33 down) and with the financial help of the Presbytery's Men's Union began to construct a one-story church at a cost of $5,000.
On the afternoon of Sunday, November 10, 1912, an overflow crowd estimated at 800 to 1,000 people were present for the dedication of the debt-free church. . . . In 1925, the Board of Trustees authorized a loan to raise the building to two stories with a basement on the first floor as Sunday School and auditorium. . . . [The Presbyterians located to a new site on Canal Boulevard, and the building] was sold to the Christian Scientists for $12,500 on December 17, 1950."
134 Polk Avenue, today
The Christian Scientists formed Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, to serve the Lakeview community. Immediate renovations to the building included rearrangement of the podium, replacing the kitchen with a Reading Room, adding pilings to the building foundations, and adding theater seating for the congregation. Significant restoration was required to improve the structural integrity of the building, and air-conditioning was added.
In 1981-82, a major renovation costing $330,000 was spurred by the need for an elevator to the church auditorium. The architectural firm of Pique & Weinstein was hired to do the work. The major elements of the renovation included floor leveling, the addition of a structural steel beam under the auditorium floor, new housing for the organ pipes, new pews, and complete redecoration including the use of historical colors in the California Gothic Style. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 19, 2002.
The levee failures following Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, caused flooding on the first floor of the church as well as damage to the church's elevator, air conditioning and heating units, and electrical systems. Many of the members who lived in the Lakeview neighborhood were also coping with their own flooded houses, and membership meetings were held to discuss continuing as a branch church. A consensus was reached that this church would serve as a neighborhood beacon for rebuilding as it is located near one of the major entrances to the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans. Donations were received from all over the world, and this church joined with all the other Christian denominations in the neighborhood to support the physical and spiritual restoration of Lakeview.
Since its renovation, Fourth Church has held talks by Christian Science speakers, Sunday School plays, music concerts, memorial services, and weddings!