The last time Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson paid a visit to the Wadsworth Chapel on the Veterans Administration’s (VA) north campus in West LA was last April, off the heels of a record-breaking rainy season in the region.

He wasn’t very encouraged by what he saw.

“It was a mess,” said the pastor at St. Monica Church in Santa Monica. “I was allowed to go inside and look around. Pretty bad.”

But he wasn’t discouraged, either, considering all that is happening to finally rejuvenate the original “spiritual and community center” of the VA campus.

When the regal building recognizable for its late-Victorian style opened in 1900, it did so well before most of Wilshire Boulevard had even been paved, or UCLA in nearby Westwood had been founded. Many of the veterans who worshipped at the chapel were men who’d been encouraged to move West after the Civil War to seek a new beginning.

A double-brick wall inside the chapel created two distinct entrances — one on the south and one on the north. From the south side, Protestants gathered to practice their faith. The north side was for the Catholic Masses, coming up in a grand staircase entry.

Following years of neglect, it has remained closed since damage suffered from the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. It is surrounded by temporary fencing because, at a time when many of the homeless population around the area seek shelter, it has been exposed to fire and vandalism.

Now, a coalition of local faith leaders — including Torgerson — are working to revive it.

Officially, they are called Wadsworth Chapel Heritage Partners, bringing together nonprofit groups The Veterans Collective and The 1887 Fund to lease the property.

The plan is to keep its original structure intact, convert the south side into an interfaith gathering space, and make the north side the home of the new Center of Moral Injury Recovery, focused on healing veterans who need holistic care for inner wounds suffered during their time in service.

To date, government grants and local foundations have contributed to the estimated $28.5 million expected to restore it. The restoration is part of a campaign to restore five key buildings on the West LA VA campus in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in LA….

From Angelus News