There’s Hollywood History at This Little Brown Church in Studio City

Find out who tied the knot at this humble house of worship.

It’s 11 p.m. on a Tuesday. On busy Coldwater Canyon in Studio City, traffic whizzes by a small wooden structure surrounded by a white picket fence and blooming roses. At first glance, you might think it was a home. But then you notice all the lights are on, and the front door is wide open. A sign in the yard beckons: “Come in and pray. The door is open night and day.”

For 80 years, the doors of the Little Brown Church of the Valley have been open to everyone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “We don’t even have any locks! Well, we have one lock that locks the front door open,” Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Michael Kosik says. “You go in there at 3 a.m. in the morning, there’s people in there praying.”

The church was founded by Reverend John H. Wells, who envisioned it as a place where wayward souls could reflect and pray after local bars closed. In 1939, on the weedy plot where the chapel now stands, Wells and his wife set up a tent. Soon, with the help of locals in then-sleepy Studio City, they built a small, DIY brown wooden chapel with knotty pine pews and unadorned, wood paneled walls.

“Shortly after that, people started coming, and there’s a little cottage that’s on the property that he lived in,” Reverend Kosik explains. “People would knock on the door and ask if he would marry them. And so he started doing weddings. After the weddings started, they started having worship services there. At first it was nondenominational, just Christian worship services. Today our denomination is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).”

The scenic structure soon became a popular spot for California couples looking for a quick, simple wedding ceremony. It became particularly popular with the oft-married folks of the entertainment industry, who were drawn to its relative ease, tolerant attitude and low profile. Over the years, celebrities including Marlon Brando, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney and George Peppard would get married at the charming chapel.

Read more about the Little Brown Church here.

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