Dear Matthew Alice:
I read that back in the 1920s, the Jehovah's Witnesses bought a house in San Diego. Is this house still here? Do the Witnesses still own it?
-- DMH, San Diego
They did, but they don't any more. The house in question is at 4440 Braeburn Road in Kensington. The Witnesses were founded in Pennsylvania in 1897 as the Millenial Dawnists. One of the most fundamental beliefs of the faith, then and now, is the conviction that Christ, David, Samson, Joseph, Abraham, Samuel, and others mentioned in the Book of Hebrews will return to Earth and re-establish the kingdom of God after the Battle of Armageddon. In 1917 a Missouri attorney Joseph Rutherford took over as head of the Watchtower Society, the Brooklyn, New York, home base of the Witnesses. Perhaps Rutherford reasoned that the prophets might be more inclined to return if they had a nice house to live in. Perhaps it was just common sense that anyone, even a Bibilcal prophet, would rather rule the Earth from San Diego than from Brooklyn. At ay rate, the society bought the house on Braeburn Road, which they named Beth Sarim, and Rutherford moved in to wait patiently for his biblical guests. To make sure no messianic wool would be pulled over their eyes, the society stipulated in the deed, "Any person appearing to take possession shall first prove identity to the proper officers of the Society as the persons described in Hebrews, chapter eleven." Rutherford died at Beth Sarim in 1942 still waiting patiently on the porch. The society subsequently sold the house and it's been in private hands ever since.