Historical Stories 1965 - Identifying a Site for the New Parish Church (Part 3)

The New Year brought with it more discussions and difficulties regarding the site for the parish plant.  In a letter to Rev. Colman dated January 15, 1965, the Rev. Thomas Manning states, “I am sorry that you are distressed about the property situation.  As you know we have already purchased the site at Atlanta and Cannery.  His Eminence and I made a personal visit to the site and were satisfied with it.  There is a problem at the moment about the quitclaiming of the surface rights.  This is in the hands of our attorney, Mary Waters.  She is working with Lawrence Kraemer, and we have every hope this will be duly satisfied.  Mr. Kelly and Monsignor O’Brien in the last few days also visited the site and the alternate site at Indianapolis.  In their judgment there is no comparable difference between the areas and no appreciable difference in the site conditioning cost.  Should you wish to talk about this with me further, I will be happy to have a visit with you.”

The need for new parish facilities was evident.  Fr. Colman wrote to Rev. Manning on February 9, 1965, requesting permission to rent space in a newly built apartment building across the street from the rectory on 10th Street.

“I would like permission to rent the upstairs front unit with a one year lease for $110.00 a month.  It would be a great relief for this Rectory if we could move all our office equipment and all our office and organization functions into that apartment.  The acquisition of the apartment would not solve our needs, but it would remedy some of the “piggy back” conditions in the Rectory.”

Fr. Colman must have had a busy schedule or had spent a considerable amount of time discerning his response to Rev. Manning.  In his letter dated March 18,1965, he writes: “I think it would be wise for you to have a date and time for a visit.”  He goes on to say “the natives have a positive aversion for this “Gospel Swamp” (local nickname), piece of property.”  The area had earned its nickname in the early 1900s.  “Squatters were a fact of life on the marshy land.  Because one of them, a preacher named Isaac Hickey, lived in the marshes southeast of the bluff, the area became known as Gospel Swamp.”

A brief request was made as to Archdiocese policy relating to Parish drives for funds to finance the development of a parish complex, followed by this comment: “I have to inform you (perhaps regrettably), that the special solicitation of funds will be affected by the property location.”  His final comment on the solicitation of funds ends with the statement: “But, the local gentry cannot be so disinterested.  They feel they have been neglected by the Chancery. With the Orange County and church explosion, the Huntington Beach people feel overlooked -- and now they must pay for it.  And, in paying, they do not feel (at these prices) they should be saddled with property they do not like.”

He closes the letter to Rev. Manning with this statement: “Personally I do not think the property an important issue – objectively.  I do think the feeling of the populace is.  It can be the basis for a wonderful relationship between Huntington Beach and his Eminence, Yourself and the Hierarchy – long after we are all gone from the scene.  I would hate to see “the big one” get away on this oceanfront city.”