Biola Unveils Replica of Iconic Los Angeles "Jesus Saves" Sign

Neon sign adorns Biola's parking structure

May. 22, 2013 By Carissa Lemkuhl

On Friday, May 24, Biola University unveiled a replica of one of the school’s original “Jesus Saves” neon signs that adorned the downtown Los Angeles building dating back to the 1930s. The unveiling took place during university's undergraduate commencement ceremony.

“Biola University is making a statement about how central that message still is to our mission,” said President Barry H. Corey. “As long as Biola has existed and will exist, proclaiming ‘Jesus Saves’ will be central to who we are.”

The replica — part of an installment that includes a giant mesh photograph of Biola’s original building in downtown Los Angeles, topped by a working “Jesus Saves” sign — will be displayed on the west face of Biola’s parking structure. The installation was funded in part by the graduating senior class of 2013.   

For 78 years, “Jesus Saves” has been a message illuminating the streets of Los Angeles. The first sign was constructed in 1935 with funds from Miss Ramage, a Biola radio listener from Riverside. A second sign was added a few years later. The sign was first lit on Feb. 17, 1935, when nearly 3,000 people gathered for an evening service.

At Biola’s Fall 2012 Convocation Chapel, President Barry Corey spoke about attempts to retrieve the original signs that once sat on Biola’s original building on Sixth and Hope Streets.

“I’ve made up my mind this year,” said Corey. On Biola’s 105th anniversary this spring, Corey made the announcement that a replica of the sign would be built.  

“It is such an iconic symbol of our heritage and history. People who haven’t been connected with Biola in 20 or 30 years [will] want to come back and see it,” said Irene Neller, vice president of university communications and marketing. “It’s going to be one of those landmarks on campus that people are going to want to congregate around to see it.”

The signs remained on the L.A. building even when the college moved to its current campus in La Mirada. In 1989, pastor Gene Scott bought the two signs and moved them to the Los Angeles University Cathedral, formerly the United Artists Theatre. In 2011, one of the signs was moved to the Faith Center in Glendale, pastored by Scott’s wife. The other sign currently remains in downtown L.A., on top of the building that is soon to open as the Ace Hotel.



Read the Los Angeles Times article, "Biola University settles for replica of iconic 'Jesus saves' sign."


Written by Carissa Lemkuhl, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist at 562.777.4061 or

[<Category: Alumni>, <Category: Student Life>]


  • Sylvia Karalius May. 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    In my old age I may have not read this correctly. The whole structure of the old Biola Building has been torn down, replaced with a 60 story office building. I looked at it on Google maps a few years ago.

  • Nelda Davis May. 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I have many fond memories of the Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles. My parents took me often. We went to Sunday services, missions conferences, and Youth for Christ. I think the last time I was there was for Dr. Talbot's memorial service. My mother and some of her cousins had also attended Bible Institute there. She is now 98 and still has some of her course outlines and notes! So glad you are going to keep the Jesus Saves on display! He truly does!

  • Don Williams May. 24, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    I feel extra-blessed. My day job is located in the new building that sits on the property at 550 S. Hope that originally housed Biola add to the fact that sometimes I go downstairs to the memorial located adjacent to the lobby, and know this is where God has placed me. I am excited for Biola and happy to be graduating this Fall from Talbot Seminary. Thank you for your great article Jenna!

  • Jenny Witt Steane May. 24, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    I had the privilege of being brought up at Church of the Open Door. I sat under the strong Biblical teaching of J. Vernon McGee, Malcolm Cronk and Mike Cocoris. I am always proud to tell people that I grew up at COD! And, of course, I graduated from Biola College, too!! What a grand Christian heritage with which to be blessed! My two favorite things about COD were the Jesus Saves signs and the note on the pulpit, "Sir, we would see Jesus." And, we did...every Sunday and Thursday! Thanks be to God!

  • Faith Heath (Case) May. 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    I am so thrilled that "JESUS SAVES" will be high and visible on the present BIOLA La Mirada Campus and that you have installed a mural painting of the original downtown L.A. building that housed the original Bible Institute of Los Angeles and Church of the Open Door where I received so much of my grounding in the Word - at COD - and for 9 semesters at Biola College in La Mirada!! It means a lot to me to be able to visibly be reminded of my Spritual roots! SO many wonderful memories!! Thanks!

  • Kyle Purcell Davis May. 28, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    Good for you, Dr. Corey! So glad the Jesus Saves sign will be shining from Biola once again!

  • Duane Nisbet Zalk May. 28, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    So glad that Biola is remaining true to its Foundation.

  • Josh Kristianto May. 29, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    Though I am very excited that the "Jesus Saves" sign has made its debut on Biola's campus, at long last, I am a bit disappointed with the placement of the sign. It's facing towards the inner part of campus, where the students are able to see it in all its beauty, but where the passersby and the bustling traffic of La Mirada Blvd miss it entirely. Sure it's nice to be able to see the "Jesus Saves" sign on your way to the cafeteria, but the sign then becomes a mere decoration for the students rather than a proclamation to the outside world. I'd rather have the sign placed perhaps on the back of Horton Hall, where it can shine brightly for drivers and joggers to see and perhaps be impacted by it; this is what the original "Jesus Saves" signs were meant to do, why not have this one do the same instead of being simply a neat feature for the students? I am really excited that we have this historical sign on our campus, but I just wish it would do what it historically has done: proclaim the Good News to the people who need it.

  • irhamck May. 29, 2013 at 9:17 AM


  • Sophie Klassen May. 29, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    I am so glad that you will put the sign "Jesus Saves" up again where it can point lost people to Jesus who saves from sin. I studied 3 wonderful years at BIOLA under great Bible teachers and found the treasures in God's Word. I also enjoyed seeing the sign as I would come back to school after work lighting up the sky at the school.

  • Jim Robison (Robbi) Jun. 2, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    I was in the { cradle-roll} at the Church of the Open Door in 1922 and have fond memories of many christian friend there. COD & Biola were a real testimoniy to Los Angeles in those days. During war time many servicemen were attracted to the church through the "Jesus Saves Signs" .

  • Reginald Avant Jun. 26, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    I have very fond memories of seeing that sign as our family drove in to attend Church of the Open Door. I was there when Dr.Malcom Cronk and his son Gordy Cronk who was the youth pastor who helped paved a way for me to attend Biola. What a very speccial place that was for me and being a Biola graduate(1983) even adds more to the special place it will always have in my heart.

  • Debbie Torres Jun. 27, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    I am a grandmother of a student starting in the fall 2013, every time we visit Biola or I read something on the web site, I am so grateful and blessed that my grand daughter will be spending the next four to nine years at Biola!! I am so touched by the story of the sign, "Jesus Saves" and what it represents for Biola's mission. I thank God for bringing our grand daughter to Biola and what He is going to do in her life and through her life. Praise be to God our Lord Jesus!!

  • Steve Reischke Jul. 8, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Will Dr. Bill Bynum doing a handstand on top of the sign be added to the mural? I believe he said he was suspended for doing that when he was a student. It's amazing how God used him to influence me and so many of others for Jesus! Yes, Jesus saves!

  • Janyce Leathers Jul. 25, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    How fitting to replicate an icon that highlighted a great era of evangelism in and around the Los Angeles area. What a blessing to now have it on the property of the now Bible Institute of Los Angeles! As a youngster living in LA for a season, then visiting my grandparents, it was always a thrill in my heart to see that massive lit up sign sitting atop the building proclaiming the greatest message of all ages, "Jesus Saves!" Thank you Dr. Cory for your vision to bring it back to "life" and be a visionary for all who once again see the icon that touched many hearts & lives. To God be the Glory.

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