Walking past the First Baptist Church of Hollywood, April Clemmer pauses.
“This church is a survivor,” she tells the dozen or so people taking her Walk of Faith tour in a neighborhood better known for its movie-star-spangled Walk of Fame. “I will show you a lot of churches but very few” — First Baptist among them — “have been able to remain in their original locations.”
Clemmer, a Los Angeles resident and a Baptist herself, came up with the Walk of Faith tour last winter, after spending a decade researching Hollywood history. To her surprise, the deeper she looked, the more she found that the place synonymous with the American movie industry — and now clogged with lingerie stores, tobacco shops and fast-food outlets — was founded as an alcohol-free Christian community.
Clemmer starts each tour with a brief introduction and prayer — encouraging people to pray however they want. Then she takes people back to 1887, when the name Hollywood first appeared on an official document, and four years after Daeida and Harvey Wilcox, who had made a fortune in real estate in Topeka, Kan., moved to Los Angeles.
The couple bought 120 acres centered at what would become the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, and after Harvey’s death and Daeida’s subsequent remarriage, Daeida began creating her vision of a Christian preserve.