A hundred years ago the table land called El Modena was covered with sagebrush and cactus webbed with sheep and cattle trails. Early in 1886 a town was laid out in the brush country and named Modena, but to eliminate confusion with another town an El was added to the name. The town was soon settled by colonists from the middle west who belonged to a "Society of Friends", more commonly called Quakers. A meeting house was needed and in June 1887 work was started on a building located on a two and one-half acre plot on Chapman Avenue donated by four members of the congregation. The whole community co-operated in the project and on August 15, 1887 a meeting house was dedicated.
David Hewes, though not a Quaker, donated a large church bell. The building stood high and conspicuous in a land that had few trees or houses. The friends were newcomers to California and were not acquainted with its unusual weather. Their new building was only one month old when a desert wind called a Santa Ana roared across the open country and pushed the building from its foundation. The building collapsed and the heavy bell crashed to the ground and completely wrecked the structure. When the wind died down the friends surveyed the wreckage and with no hesitation cleared the debris and started building again. The second church was built on the lines of the first but was fortified against the weather. For ninety years it stood as a monument in the heart of El Modena.
Over the years new voices were heard in the community. Spanish became the common language. The friends outgrew their venerable home and in 1967 moved to another meeting place a half-mile away. For nine years their old home stood abandoned until Javier and Nora Moreno rescued the landmark. They were natives of the community and with nostalgia and long experience in serving tasty food, they purchased the property and added a touch of Mexico.
The old church building was not changed but was blended into surroundings where the food and hospitality of early California can be enjoyed.