Town Square

Post a New Topic

VIDEO: Palo Alto's oldest black church celebrates rebirth

Original post made on Oct 16, 2009

Clarence Nicholas, 90, stood outside a small, stucco building in downtown Palo Alto last Saturday afternoon, his hands clutching a piece of paper on which he'd written the lyrics to "Because He Lives." It was his late wife's favorite hymn. They married in the stucco church on Ramona Street in 1957, he said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 16, 2009, 9:31 AM

Comments (9)

2 people like this
Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2009 at 10:48 am

Beautiful story and video.

2 people like this
Posted by Barbara Slone
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 16, 2009 at 11:25 am

Congratulations Ruth Anne and all of you who made this happen. I had discussions with Ruth Anne back in the 1980's about this historic landmark. I remember touring the building with an eye to see if it couldn't be turned into some community center or even a folk music club. The obstacles to getting this building restored seemed Herculean and you have accomplished what I never dreamed would be accomplished. Well done! I only wish I had known about this event so I could have attended to congratulate you all on your efforts in person!

PS I am wondering if you at least got photo documentation of the basement Sunday School room with the fairy tale drawings on the wall. If it is a garage now, those are probably history. They were sooooo charming and harkened back to a different time.

2 people like this
Posted by Piercey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm

A wonderful and inspiring story. Kudo's to all the people who worked so hard and long to make it happen.

2 people like this
Posted by Let it be, let it be..
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 17, 2009 at 2:34 am

"Flower Child, 1966"..I tried to rent this church from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation so I could live in it when I first saw it was empty. (I had gotten the idea from the movie "Alices Resturant"and at the time it seemed something I would have like to have done.) Sadly, I was turned down as I was told the Foundation had plans to demolish the building.
My grandfather owned an auto repair shop business across the street from this church back in the 1930's. He told me that being from the South, he at first noticed the church goers when they first moved in. As time progressed, he became a good friend to the church congregation. Sundays and some Saturdays the church would have BBQ Chicken dinners and would bring them across the street to him while he toiled at his work...
I am so elated that this property has been saved! As a 4th generation Palo Altan, I am proud of all the work that many people have done to preserve even the small portion of Palo Alto's history. (Team work!)
I am pleased to pass on the legacy to the future generations who will inherit this place called Palo Alto.

2 people like this
Posted by Cynthia Handy
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 17, 2009 at 4:53 am

Yes! What a hard task done with the save and restoration of this church. I'm 3rd generation Palo Alto resident. My grandchildren are proud to see history of black families exsisted in Palo Alto some many years ago. Walking down town is forever a special event.

2 people like this
Posted by Kiley Kinnon
a resident of Ventura
on May 25, 2014 at 5:33 am

Amazing: Isaac MacDuffy(Mac)Hinson and the person my brothers, sisters and several cousins called Grandpa, while growing up in Palo Alto, are one in the same. Mr. Hinson's second wife, Elizabeth Brown (Kinnon) was my late father, Reverend Leroy Kinnon's mother. Mr.and Mrs. Hinson lived for decades on Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, a few houses away from the famous HP Garage. My father was also the Assistant Minister, serving under Reverend Elston, of the Palo Alto University AME Zion Church, during the 1970's. Fran's Market, still standing and open on Litton Avenue was owned by Francis Hinson, Isaac Hinson's son. I used to buy ice cream and model car building magazines from Fran's. Isaac Hinson also owned several homes and other properties in Palo Alto. My family's 117 year (1897-2014 and counting) Palo Alto history predates the incorporation of the City of Palo Alto and the opening of Stanford University. Amazing indeed.

2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 26, 2014 at 8:35 pm


"My family's 117 year (1897-2014 and counting) Palo Alto history predates the incorporation of the City of Palo Alto and the opening of Stanford University. Amazing indeed."

I think they are planning to re-open a PA history museum, and this story should be there. Like in the video section and more photos.

2 people like this
Posted by lindaloo
a resident of Mountain View
on May 27, 2014 at 11:41 am


Am wondering if you are related to LeRoyal, Karen, and Jill Kinnon, all of whom I knew in HS at Gunn.

Wonderful story and history.

2 people like this
Posted by Kiley
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Response to lindaloo:

"Am wondering if you are related to LeRoyal, Karen, and Jill Kinnon, all of whom I knew in HS at Gunn ?"

Yes, they are my brother and sisters. Karen passed away in November, 2012.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Fu Lam Mum shutters temporarily in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 3,340 views

How Does Silicon Valley’s Culture Affect Your Marriage?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 756 views


Best Of Palo Alto ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Palo Alto" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 21st issue of the Palo Alto Weekly.