Pilgrim’s progress

Do you mind if I offer a belated earthquake story? Hope not. I just heard this one a few days ago.

There’s scaffolding around the tower of Pomona’s stately brick Pilgrim Congregational Church, as you may have noticed if you’ve driven on Garey Avenue north of Holt in recent weeks. Repairs to the bricks and grillwork is the reason.

Well, there were workers on the scaffolding when the earthquake hit, parishioner Don Sturgis told me.

“One workman said that he looked up and saw the tower leaning over him. Another was on the tower roof and indicated that he was afraid that the roof would fall in,” Sturgis said.

But they had nothing to worry about.

“These workers had no idea that the same general contractor for this current work, Mark Sauer Construction, was given a $1 million contract in 1993 to earthquake-retrofit the church structure and adjoining Pilgrim Hall that were built in 1911,” Sturgis said.

That earlier work tied the walls together so that rather than the walls moving in separate directions, “the structure could move as a single unit,” Sturgis explained. “This is exactly what happened (in the quake) — the tower still stands and, except for some cracked plaster, no structural damage occurred to either building.”

Whew. I’m sure the workers were glad to know it — after the world, and their knees, stopped shaking.

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  • I’m glad no one got hurt. I installed electrical signs all around SoCal for four years and was lucky never to be caught up on the rig during an earthquake. However, the wind in Ontario nearly killed me several times.

    That must have been surreal seeing that tower leaning over.

  • Tad Decker


    John Bunyan and I like the title of this thread! And thanks for drawing a little attention to what is hands-down one of the most beautiful edifices in the area. The interior, with its warm oak paneling and the golden glow of stained glass refracted light, is also amazing.