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Tue, May 19, 2020

Eliza Boston & The Little Red Church

If you've ever wandered around Downtown Santa Cruz, you’ve probably noticed this little red church right off the main strip of Pacific Avenue.

The origins of this little red church aka the Calvary Episcopal Church starts with one woman’s dream and her continued devotion in the face of life’s difficulties.

That woman's name? Eliza Boston.

Eliza moved to Santa Cruz in the early 1860s. Her religious affiliation was Episcopalian because of their support for abolition, but the congregation in Santa Cruz lacked a place of worship. Services were held in courtrooms, or at Temperance Hall, the local community center, but this came to a quick halt as the local theater group used sacred items as props for their shows. Soon after her marriage to Joseph Boston, they set out to build a church for their local community in need.

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Built in the Gothic Revival style--with pointed arched windows, a steeply pitched roof, a porch with turned posts, and board siding--the architectural design was made by Eliza’s husband, Joseph. The first service in the completed church was held on Easter Sunday in 1865, with a choir and melodeon to bring in the congregation.

Upon Eliza’s death, she was cremated and buried in Evergreen Cemetery alongside her husband, and three children. The legacy of Eliza and her husband lives on in the Calvary Episcopal Church- 150 years later. Which is the oldest church in Santa Cruz County, and the only original church still active in downtown Santa Cruz. So next time you walk by, take a minute to admire the little red church.