Pisgah Home Movement

A pioneering Pentecostal social service endeavor in early 20th century Los Angeles, merging faith healing with charitable works.

The Pisgah Home Movement, initiated by Dr. Finis E. Yoakum in 1895, represents a unique intersection of religious fervor, social service, and community development within the burgeoning Pentecostal movement of the early 20th century. Located in the Garvanza/Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, this movement was driven by a religious doctrine that prioritized service to the poor and social action over theological dogma, distinguishing itself through a comprehensive range of social programs aimed at the transient and unemployed populations of the area.

Origins and Development

The movement began with Yoakum’s personal crusade among the downtrodden and outcast of Los Angeles, offering salvation and support to drunkards, cripples, paupers, and criminals alike. His mission expanded rapidly from its humble origins in his home, evolving into a tent city that provided free care alongside a strict vegetarian diet and copious amounts of Gospel teaching. By 1913, the Pisgah Home had grown significantly, incorporating facilities like the Pisgah Home for Reformed Drunkards, The Ark for Homeless Girls, the Pisgah Orphanage, Pisgah Gardens for those with tuberculosis, cancer, and mental disorders, and a store distributing donated goods.

Challenges and Controversy

Despite its noble intentions, the movement faced challenges and controversies, particularly from the surrounding community. The influx of society’s outcasts to Pisgah Home raised concerns among neighbors and occasionally led to criminal incidents. Additionally, Yoakum’s practices as a faith healer, while drawing significant attention and funding, also attracted skepticism and criticism. Reports of healings were questioned for their authenticity, and Yoakum’s fundraising methods during healing services sparked controversy.


The Pisgah Home Historic District, comprising eight buildings constructed between 1895 and 1925, remains a testament to the movement’s impact on Los Angeles’s religious and social landscape. Listed for its significance in religion, social history, and philosophy, the district embodies the early 20th century’s integration of faith-based initiatives with social welfare efforts. Despite controversies, the Pisgah Home Movement left an indelible mark on the community it served, highlighting the complex interplay between religious belief and social action during a pivotal period in Los Angeles’s history​​​​​​.

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