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The Endangered 8: 2024 

San José's Most Threatened Architectural and Cultural Landmarks

First Church of Christ, Scientist


43 E. St. James Street


Built 1905


Willis Polk



Absentee owners Z&L Properties continue to allow this Neoclassical gem by famed architect Willis G. Polk to decay, ignoring multiple entrieties by the City, the community, and other stakeholders to ensure its protection. While the pro-bono removal of dangerously abandoned scaffolding and tarps by a Good Samaritan contractor in the fall of 2023 has returned the building to public view for the first time since 2018, this measured progess is fragile compared to the urgent need to permanently stabilize the structure. Legal action by the City is the last and best option to force Z&L to relinquish control of the site, ideally to a new owner with the resources and vision to complete a long-promised restoration and adaptive reuse project.


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

Learn More and Take Action!

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