Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum

Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum

Saint Peter and Paul church in Wilmington

706 Bay View Ave
Wilmington, CA 90744


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The City of Wilmington and the Church stand on a history that predates the Spanish Settlement of California. Indians of the Shoshone Tribe were to greet the first expedition that arrived from Mexico. It is within the memory of Wilmington residents that when the harbor freeway was under construction the remains of Indians were found along the right of why and an Indian burial ground was uncovered. This land was once part of the Rancho San Pedro land grant. In 1854 Manuel Dominguez made a sale of land outside of his family to Phineas Banning and Associates. The sale was 2,400 acres. One of Banning’s associates was John Downey, a former Governor of California who would late give to Bishop Amat the land on which the first church was built.

In 1865 the Civil War was over and the Port of Wilmington was bustling with activity sine was now the terminal of ocean shipping and overland transportation. Fort Drum (Drum Barracks) was the supply depot for the troops fighting the Indians in the Southwest. Because Wilmington was such a bustling place, Bishop Amat directed Fr. Antonio Ubach to build a church in Wilmington. The land was donated by John Downey and the soldiers at the Drum Barracks helped to build the first church, which was the only church in Southern L.A. County. Its borders were Compton to the north, Orange County to the east and Redondo to the west. The first mass celebrated was on November 29, 1865 when it was first called St. Peter’s Church, for its patron saint, St. Peter Octavani. The women of the parish formed the first altar society, which is the “Oldest Altar Society” in California. The altar society still exists today as part of the women’s council of St. Peter & St. Paul Church. In 1899 the Catholic Directory listed the name of the church as St. Peter & St. Paul Church. No one knows why but they thought it was a way of honoring Bishop Amat and his devotion to St. Peter & St. Paul.

During the period of 1904-1911 Mrs. Dominguez de Watson gave a 3,000 pound bell to the church. The bell later had to be removed from the Old Church’s tower as it was in danger of collapsing because of its weight. It is the now the bell in the tower of the present church today, which started construction in the late 1920s. Mrs. Watson gave $60,000 to the construction, which was a matching gift since the Church was able to raise $60,000 as well. The first mass was on Christmas Eve in 1930. And on March 15, 1931 the church was dedicated. A new rectory was added and the first parish school. In the late 40s and early 50s the Catholic Archdiocese needed Catholic schools in a big way and one of the people who responded to the need was Mrs. Watson who gave another $60,000 to build St. Peter & St. Paul School.

In 1966 the Centenary of Sts. Peter & Paul Church was held in a solemn high mass of Thanksgiving with Cardinal James Francis McIntyre presiding. In 1996 the 130th anniversary of Sts. Peter and Paul Church was help with Cardinal Roger Mahoney presiding. Mr. and Mrs. Bill Huston, granddaughter of Maria Dominguez Watson took part in the ceremony. The church continues on today.




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  • Tours

    Guided Tours of the Adobe Museum are Offered (Adobe is only open for guided tours):
    • First Thursday and Friday of Each Month
    • Every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday
    • Tours are at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm
    • No Reservations Needed for Parties Under 10
    • Tours del adobe están disponibles en español el segundo domingo de cada mes
    • Adobe tours available in Spanish the 2nd Sunday of each month
  • Sponsors

    Watson Land Company

    The Carson Companies

    Norris Foundation

    Lantz Foundation

    Murphy Foundation

    Waste Management

    The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

    Post Alarm Systems

  • Friends of Rancho San Pedro

    Board of Directors
    • Mr. William Barger
    • Mr. Tom Huston
    • Brother Rene Lepage, C.M.F.
    • Mr. Manny Marrero
    • Father Frank Ferrante, C.M.F
    • Mr. John F. Watkins
    Honorary Member
    • Rev. Patrick J. McPolin, C.M.F.

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  • ©2018 Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum. v3.

    18127 S. Alameda St., Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220

    Phone (310) 603-0088 | Fax (310) 603-0009

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