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The Endangered 8: 2023 

San José's Most Threatened Architectural and Cultural Landmarks

First Church of Christ, Scientist


43 E. St. James Street


Built 1905


Willis Polk




After being concealed for five years behind shredded tarps and scaffolding, First Chirsh of Christ Scientist has finally reemerged into public view following Garden City Construction's pro-bono site cleanup in August. Still, the property remains critically endangered five years after a long-promised restoration was abandoned by beleaguered international developer Z&L Properties. The City has been frustratingly slow to enforce multiple code violations, but is beginning to explore options to repossess the Willis Polk-designed Neoclassical masterpiece in order to facilitate its desperately-needed rehabilitation. Without a new owner stepping forward, the property remains vulnerable to vandalism, arson, and the elements, and is hampering reinvestment efforts in the surrounding St. James Square Historic District.


Mercury News, "San Jose officials eye fine for firm that rid church of 'trash bag' wrap," Sept. 18, 2023

KPIX CBS News, “Efforts underway to refurbish long abandoned San Jose church,” Sept. 5, 2023

San Jose Spotlight, "San Jose landmark in danger of further deterioration," Sept. 1, 2023

Mercury News, “Historic San Jose church comes into view after eyesore tarp is removed,” Aug. 29, 2023

KPIX CBS News, “San Jose's abandoned ‘Trash Bag Church’ finally gets tarps and scaffolding removed,” Aug. 28, 2023

Bay City News, “Higher Fines For Negligent Property Owners Proposed In San Jose,” Aug. 25, 2023

KRON 4, “San Jose mayor takes aim at negligent building owners,” Aug 25, 2023

Silicon Valley Business Journal, “San Jose city officials look to increase fines for neglected properties, cite blighted downtown church,” Aug. 25, 2023

KTVU Fox 2, “San Jose mayor seeks to increase fines for owners of blighted properties,” Aug. 24, 2023

Mercury News, “Nearly $100,000 in fines still isn’t pushing this San Jose ‘trash bag church’ owner to fix downtown eyesore,” Aug. 24, 2023

San Jose Spotlight, “San Jose weighs upping fines for neglected properties,” Aug. 24, 2023

San Jose Spotlight, "Delapidated San Jose church repairs put on hold," June 20, 2023

Mercury News, "San Jose staff crafts solution to protect blighted old historic church," June 15, 2023

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