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Congregational Church in Mokelumne Hill (No. 261 Historical Landmark)

Historic Site or District
Photo of the Congregational Church in Mokelumne Hill from NoeHill Travels California – Courtesy of NoeHill Travels California (

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

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The Congregational Church in Mokelumne Hill was organized August 28, 1853, and a church was built shortly thereafter. The first Congregational Church was destroyed in a fire in 1854. The Church that stands today was constructed in 1856, and was the fifth Congregational Church organized in the state and is the oldest of that denomination in California.

The church was rebuilt by Pastor J. S. Zellie in 1856, and cost $2,700. The construction was financed by miners' donations collected every Saturday night by the ladies of the congregation. The new church was dedicated by Pastor Joseph Benton of Sacramento on March 8, 1857. The church stands on a stone foundation and was constructed of board and batten. Its windows and much of the mill work came around the Cape Horn of South America in a sailing ship. The church was incorporated as the Mokelumne Hill Community Church in 1959, when the local congregation received title to the property. The church is still in operation and visitors are welcome. An active website for the church can be found here.

The church is located on the northeast corner of Main and Church Streets in Mokelumne Hill st 8245 Main Street.

Calaveras County

Along with Mark Twain’s famous "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" story that spun into an annual fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, Calaveras County is rich with Gold Rush history and folklore. Remnants of the railroads and Hispanic culture add to the charm of the county located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a preserve of Giant Sequoia trees, and the uncommon gold telluride mineral Calaverite was discovered in the county in 1861, and is named for it.

Time Period Represented



Open Wednesdays at 7 pm; Sundays at 10am

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