In the beginning our church was a vision of Rev. Doug Vance, the first executive of the Arizona Synod . As the result of a study by representatives of the Board of National Missions, a priority was given for the development of a new church in the north central Phoenix area. A church was needed in this area to serve the Presbyterian people living here. At that time the site for the new church was more than four miles from the nearest church of our denomination.
Subsequently a call was extended to Rev. and Mrs. Leonard “Pat” Patterson. They arrived September 1st, 1953, and the following week, Rev. Patterson, accompanied by Rev. Morton of the Board of National Missions, began a door-to-door survey of the district. Services began on September 20th in the Patterson home and a few weeks later were transferred to the Richard C. Simis School. The group was officially organized as a Presbyterian Church on December 13, 1953, with 100 members.
Fifty years ago this area was "way out in the country”. The Arizona Canal at Indian School was the northern boundary of the city. This area was mostly citrus groves. At one time there was a trolley that ran on Glendale Avenue from the Village of Glendale through agricultural areas to 7th Street. This community was called "Orangewood." Betty Waters, a Charter Member, suggested our church be called "Orangewood." She won the name contest.
The site chosen for the new church was in the 7400 block of North 10th Street. Mr. H. Wasser, an elder of First Presbyterian Church, and owner of Wasser Nursery on 12th Street just north of Glendale Avenue deeded the church 3/4-acre; the church bought 1 1/4 acre for $5,000 with an option to buy an additional acre for $1,000. Wasser gave $6,000 in land the first 2 years. When the transaction was completed in January of 1955, the church had secured three acres the largest tract of land owned by any Presbyterian church in Phoenix. Later, in 1963 the church bought another acre for $13,000; 1/4 acre was set-aside for the Manse.
Planning for the new church soon got underway. The theme for the new building program was “Building Now with a Strong Faith in Our Future”. Architectural plans were developed. The concept for the new church on the planned site is shown. The construction of the Social Hall and temporary Sanctuary and the Educational Building (see 1 and 2 on plot plan) was estimated to cost $50,000.
In order to make this construction possible the National Board of Missions made available $20,000. The balance of $30,000 was raised over a three-year period by the generous giving of our people. Buildings 3 and 4 were to be constructed at some future date when our membership growth necessitated the additional facilities and makes such additional expenditures possible.
Today the Orangewood Campus totals 4.3 acres with street frontage on both 10th Street and Orangewood Avenue. It is the home of six major structures:
1955 The Wright Center (Original Sanctuary)
1955 South Education Building
1955 Pastor’s Manse (Sold July 2023)
1957 North Education Building
1965 Sanctuary and Office
1989 Page Hall (fellowship)
In addition there are several play structures, play areas, and a lit sport court. Between the entries of our Sanctuary and Page Hall is a large plaza with sun covering for meet and greet before and after services.
Read the history of Orangewood's first fifty years of serving Phoenix.