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Historical Society Heritage Month Program Monday May 17th Early History of St. Mary's Episcopal Church by Starr Helms

May 12, 2010|By Gene Felder

The Laguna Beach Historical Society will be presenting a program Monday, May 17th "Early History of St. Mary's Episcopal Church" by Starr Helms.  The program is from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will be held at the Laguna Beach City Hall Council Chambers, 505 Forest Avenue.  The public is invited and there is no charge.

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The May 17th slideshow presentation by Starr Helms, “The Chapel on the Hill,” will be on the historic buildings of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. It will trace the 50 year history of the Episcopal chapel of St. Francis-by-the-Sea (and other buildings), from the time it was constructed in 1925 until it was demolished in 1979.

In those 50 years Percy Wise Clarkson, who founded the Episcopal congregation and built the church, left the Episcopal faith, and its name was changed to St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Clarkson later built a second church he named St. Francis by-the-Sea (the American Catholic Church) right next door to the first.

The presentation will address how the church came to be built by Clarkson, the story of its ownership and name change, what it looked like before it was torn down, and the reason it was.

The information in the presentation is from two years’ research of the early history of the church, resulting in a recently-published 120-page book that includes over 100 photographs.

Starr Helms is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. She has lived in Orange County since 1990, and in Laguna Beach since 1995. In 2001, after 25 years with IBM, and 10 years of social work before that, she "retired," planning to spend more time painting. However, the last two years have been spent researching and writing two books about the early history of St. Mary's Church. Starr has been married to Bill Helms since 2005.

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