The church: centre of a community

I’ve driven Route 2 from Wilbur through Airway Heights more than a handful of times since I moved back to the B.C. Interior.

Typically, I’m on a mission to get to Spokane Valley, our second home where Our American lives.

It was only recently that a building, almost hidden behind overgrown bushes, caught my attention. I don’t know how my eyes had missed it on previous trips.

abandoned church in Deep Creek, Lincoln County, Washington

The bell tower is familiar to this ghost-towner, who revels in finding the buildings once considered important, from schoolhouses to homes and churches.

The pretty little church has fallen into a state of disrepair.

The bell seems to be gone, windows are smashed out and boarded up, and its paint is peeling badly.

It’s on private property, so getting too close is out of the question.

Douglas County church, Washington

Little information exists on the web about the church.

One photographer took a picture of the former schoolhouse-cum-residence just up the road and a commenter mentioned the church.

I belive the Church is of 1929 vintage and sadly the owner has no interest in preserving it. Deep Creek Falls (now just Deep Creek) was a town from 1883 or so till 1939 (I believe).

Oh, if I had my way, I’d win the lottery, buy the little church and restore to its former beauty.

You see, I grew up in a small town on Canada’s east coast. Antigonish, N.S., is known as “The Little Vatican” and my family dutifully attended St. Ninian Cathedral every Saturday.

I’m not a religious person as an adult but I remember the value church gatherings bring to a community. In Canada, the community churches are complemented by a community hall and, without question, the hockey rink — a part of our culture well documented by hockey personality Chris Cuthbert in The Rink: Stories from Hockey’s Home Towns. I used to have a signed copy, interviewing Cuthbert in Kamloops during my career as a sports writer.

And I wonder if, as we start to let these wonderful little churches wither away, it only symbolizes the loss of our sense of community and togetherness.

Ah, but maybe that’s too profound a thought for our little exploring blog. We stumbled onto a few other churches along the way.

When I took a wrong turn on my way back to Spokane from Vancouver, I saw the little Anglican church of Douglas:

Douglas County 032

Saint Paul’s Lutheran hasn’t been used in many years, says the Douglas County PUD website, but the folks who live in the area are trying to restore it. The website, unfortunately, has dated information as it says the Douglas Community Historical Association wants to have the church fully restored by 2006 and rent it out for weddings and other celebrations.

The site says the church is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, the official U.S. federal listing of significant historic, architectural and archeological resources.

Drilling down takes me to the Washington Historic Register. Its database shows the application of historical landmark status, prepared by Kenneth Duane Britt of nearby Wenatchee. Dated 1980, the application shows the church is (or was) owned by the Westerman family.

The Church is what is left of a once thiving Community. It is a landmark of the courage, strengh, ingenuity, morals, ideas, beliefs, and culture of the early settlers of Douglas and our whole State. I would love to see the Church on the National Register, and I believe it is a Landmark well worth it.

They’re words that apply to any of these old buildings that Shep and I find along the way.

The churches and schoolhouses and grain elevators and farmhouses, all long abandoned and nearly forgotten, are testaments to who we are and where we’ve come from.

And without those touchpoints, we’ll never know where we’re going.

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