Union Presbyterian History

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History of the Los Altos Union Presbyterian Church

Shoup BuildingFor centuries, the Ohlones Native Americans lived in the South Bay. In 1769, Don Gaspar de Portola, off course in his search for Monterey Bay, rode across Los Altos, the first European to do so. In the decades to come, the area would be divided and sub-divided among various land grants and early settlers. Development came slowly to Los Altos. Fruit, vineyards and hay were the chief produce of the area.

In 1907, a new rail line conveyed San Franciscans down the Peninsula. Railroad officials established the town of Los Altos encouraged by land speculation. Around the new train depot, a few merchants erected buildings on Main Street. Paul Shoup constructed one of the earliest buildings, a two-story structure, on Second and Main for $5000. (It is still there.) The first floor contained a market. The new town used the second floor as a public hall. During the week, it served as a schoolroom. On Sunday mornings, it became the site of the first worship services in Los Altos.

O.M. Hester, a retired minister, sought to establish a Methodist congregation in the new town. He gathered residents together for worship and Bible study. They met for the first time in 1909 in the Shoup building. Because the congregation included persons from a variety of Protestant faiths, they abandoned the idea of affiliating with one denomination. On Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, the members affirmed their Articles of Faith and the Union Church of Los Altos was formally established as a community church for Los Altos. For some now-forgotten reason, the final step of incorporation with the state was not carried out until one year later. This omission gave the Episcopal Church the official distinction of being the first church organized in Los Altos. On the day of its incorporation, April 14, 1914, Union Church of Los Altos had 34 members. arrow