ABC Wednesday ~ St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo

It’s time for another ABC Wednesday and we are on the letter C. I decided to post something from my hometown of Camarillo, California which both start with the letter C although what I’m showing you in Camarillo doesn’t start with the letter C. Have I confused you yet? I will also share links from other posts I’ve published in the past about the historical landmarks in our city.

Today I wanted to show you St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. I had the rare opportunity to visit the grounds of St. John’s Seminary for a Christmas Concert that a friend’s son was performing in. I’ve tried to get on the grounds in the past unsuccessfully. When I found out the campus would be open for this concert I was there with bells on. The concert was beautifully performed in the historic chapel.



In 1924, plans were being made for a minor seminary for the training of priests in the Los Angeles Area. Sixty five students were registered for the academic year of 1926-27. At that time, Juan E. Camarillo made a gift to the archdiocese of 100 acres on the knoll of Rancho Calleguas, which land separated the Calleguas Ranch from Rancho Las Posas. The purpose of Mr. Camarillo’s gift was the location there of a major seminary. Ground was broken for St. John’s in March of 1938, after a speedy and successful drive for funds.


The original buildings, including the chapel which is unique in its marble decorations and stained-glass windows, are built around a quad with interior porticoes.

When Archbishop Cantwell was planning for the new seminary, he approached Mrs. Edward Laurence Doheny, Sr. about the possibility that she would donate the library. Mr. Doheny, her husband, the great oil tycoon, had passed away in 1935. Together they had built the library at USC in memory of Edward Laurence Doheny, Jr. and Mrs. Doheny considered this new opportunity a most appropriate way to honor the memory of her husband. It also afforded her the opportunity to create a permanent home for the thousands of rare books and art objects which she had collected since 1930 and which would burgeon before her death in 1958.

Mrs. Doheny hired her favorite architect, Wallace Neff, and commissioned him to design a building which would house a working library for the students and faculty as well as quarters for her collection.

The result is a classical Spanish building which reflects some of the overtones of the 1,100 years of Moorish influence in Spain. The pale pink stucco structure complements and enhances the neo-Spanish architecture of the main buildings.



It was a very bright sunny day when I visited. On some of the photos you can’t see the pink tone to the building but this photo that I took at this angle the pink shows through nicely.

The first floor of the library serves students and faculty, and the second floor housed the Estelle Doheny Collection which contained some 8,000 volumes of rare books. There were also displayed much of Mrs. Doheny’s fine French period furniture, canvases by Barbizon and western American artists. The collection was distinguished for an impressive array of Bibles which were significant type, among which the premier volume were one of the few extant original Gutenberg Bibles. I found out today her entire collection was sold off to over 40 different buyers from around the world in 1988! Oh how sad that this collection is scattered all over the world now.

I wasn’t aware that this significant collection had been housed in this library when I was on campus in December. After researching and finding this information I was disappointed to find out it was no longer there.


Please visit Mrs. Nesbitt and Friends at the official ABC blog to see more posts on the letter C.

Here are some links to past posts about other Camarillo historic sights and city sights and surrounding areas.

St. Mary Magdalen Church here and here.

Camarillo Ranch House here ,and  here.

All about Camarillo here.

ht: Greater Camarillo…Then and Now, a Publication of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, copyright 1978.

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage unless I pay them a lot of money. I’m slowly cleaning up many posts from this time period and deleting their ugly grey and black boxes with a ransom request. Such a time consuming bother.

About Ellen am a wife, mother, baba (grandmother) and a loyal friend. Jesus is my King and my hope is in my future with Him.

29 thoughts on “ABC Wednesday ~ St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo

    • Hi Ellen,

      I work at St. John’s Seminary Library. We are redesigning the library’s webpage this summer. Could we use some of your pictures for the sample web page we are testing out this summer?


  1. What a gorgeous campus! Thank you for all the history; it’s a nice complement to your beautiful photos. I’m sad to hear that if I ever make it to Camarillo, it sounds like I am unlikely to see the campus at all.

  2. Beautifully descriptive. I lived in Carpinteria during the 70’s and visited Camarillo many times. Always loved the eucalyptus that lined the highway – wonder if they are still there…

  3. I have been involved with St. John’s Seminary through The Italian Catholic Federation. Our organization supported Semiarians for years and continue to this day. Cardinal Mahony donated the Statue of Our Lady Queen Of Angels to St Denis Church in Diamond. As President of the I.C.F. we accepted the gift graciously and raised $6,000 to have this precious statue of Our Lady refurbed and it is standing at right side of the Church, a 7 1/2 ft beautiful statue of Our Lady. History tells us there are only three created by an Italian sculpture, one in Rome, One in LA and the third at St. Denis in Diamond Bar, Ca. What a Blessed honor.
    Art Messina

  4. ellen, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of this seminary in Camarillo! Thank you for so many beautiful photos of this incredible church and the architecture and the sculpture!! 🙂 I’m so glad I stopped by!

  5. This is such a beautiful seminary. I never knew this was in our backyard. It would be perfect for a wedding. Does anyone know if they allow wedding ceremonies here? I’m getting married next August 2015 and this would be a perfect location.

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