A Short History of the Mormon Church in Burbank
by Mike McDaniel
During the period after the 1911 incorporation of Burbank into a city, many people arrived to call Burbank home. Included among these were many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
The Church members who lived here attended services with a small ward (congregation) in Glendale that was organized in 1923. As Burbank grew so did the numbers of church members. In 1929, members had begun to hold meetings in their homes in town and it was decided that a regular meeting place should be chosen. The Odd Fellows hall on Glenoaks between Olive and Angeleno was used at first. The hall was good, but had to be aired out every Sunday morning from the Odd Fellows Saturday night meeting cigarette smoke before services could begin. (Mormons are non-smokers.)
The number of Mormons in Burbank increased to the point where the Odd Fellows hall was no longer large enough; a new location was needed with larger meeting facilities. Another church group had ceased to use the Burbank Woman’s Club building on Olive Ave for their Sunday services, so in 1931 the Mormon church leadership was able to rent the Woman’s Club which gave them the much-needed space.
In 1939 Fire Captain Howard Tolman was called in to inspect the vacant Burbank Country Club Building at the intersection of Orange Grove and Sunset Canyon. Originally a private golf course and then owned by the City, the building had been left vacant and had been vandalized for several years. Upon inspection Capt. Tolman, a member of the church, thought that with some work the building would make a good permanent location for the growing Mormon membership. He brought the matter up to the local leaders and several members who were in the construction business visited the building to investigate. After a tour they decided that the old country club would indeed make a great meeting house after some necessary renovation. Warner Brothers was also interested in the building, but in 1939 the Latter-Day Saint Church purchased the building. It is still the main Mormon church building in Burbank, housing three wards (congregations).
Church members have been involved in the Burbank Community since its early days. Burbank history is linked with local Mormon history as over the years Mormons have owned businesses that have built Burbank homes, written books, served food, repaired cars, made movies and television shows, built and designed airplanes and sponsored community social events such as concerts and community gardens. Many were soldiers who fought and served in the military, one such was Corporal Larry Maxam, U.S.M.C., Burbank’s Medal of Honor recipient. Other church members served the community in civil service, such as Mayor Carl King, and City Clerk Marion Marshall. Many members also work for the city and own local businesses today.
Members of the Mormon Church have served and continue to be of service in the Burbank Community through business and community activities; they believe that as they serve people they are also in the service of God.