For John Krause and Cindy Batten it was love at first sight. In fact, that phrase applies to the newlyweds in two instances; in terms of both their relationship and the venue where they said their 'I do's' this past weekend.
Krause and Batten met nearly two years ago, both coming out of difficult marriages in recent years. They found each other on Craigslist of all places, where the connection was instant. They texted for a few days before finally meeting in person, where Batten says their futures were cemented forever.
"It was so perfect when we saw each other. We had big smiles on our faces and we hugged each other. We told each other we loved each other, because we already knew that before we met, but that first meeting just sealed it," she says.
"Cindy and I, we've been together almost two years now and it's like the first day we met," Krause says. "She is the coolest chick I have ever met, and I mean that. We've never had an argument in two years. Sure, there's frustration from time to time, but I feel terrible when I upset her because she's so sweet. Any disagreement we may have had has been nothing. We're open to each other's opinions and we weigh everything out until we come to a conclusion."
While each knew they had found their soulmate from the get-go, it was more than a year before they started planning their wedding. Krause, who was living in Dundee at the time, suggested getting married at Crabtree Park, but a fateful trip to the Butteville General Store in Aurora earlier this May changed everything.
"It wasn't a planned thing," Batten says. "We were meeting a guy to pick up concert tickets over in Wilsonville, and so we took this back road and we saw this place. We thought it was so cute that we had to stop and get a drink."
"We walked in to get a coffee and I think both of us thought immediately that this would be a cool place. We had Crabtree Park reserved in Dundee, and we scrapped that plan I'd say maybe five minutes after getting here. From that second on we were all in."
They found store manager Dori Brattain that same day and asked whether or not the store hosted weddings. The Butteville General Store never had, at least not to Brattain's knowledge, but she was immediately receptive to the idea. Just a couple of months later Krause and Batten tied the knot, marrying Saturday, July 22 at the historic location.
The ceremony was monumental, not just for Krause and Batten, but because the wedding marked the first in Butteville General Store's history. That's quite the statement considering the building's pivotal part in Oregon's history. The store is the longest continuously-operated business in Oregon, dating all the way back to 1863, and the building goes back even further to 1851 when it was originally built.
While Butteville is now considered a ghost town — it's located south of Wilsonville in unincorporated Clackamas County — it was once a thriving community. Butteville served as one of Oregon's original port towns, providing a trading post for merchants and a landing spot for steamboats that imported and exported most of Oregon's goods. The Butteville General Store, meanwhile, served multiple functions for the growing city up until the 1880s, when the Oregon Electric Railroad replaced steamboats as the state's primary form of transportation.
By many accounts, the Butteville General Store was the heart
of downtown Butteville for all that time.
"The story of Oregon, at least in the northern Willamette Valley, is largely a story of maritime transportation," says Friends of Historic Butteville Vice President Greg Leo. "The Butteville Store has a long tradition and history here. It was a place of commerce, a place of entertainment, a place of heritage and it was also a place of ideas."
The store has remained open since 1863, but experienced what Leo calls some down years in the recent past. The establishment experienced a resurgence six years ago, however, when Oregon State Parks stepped in with some funding. With their help, the store was able to hire Brattain as manager, which quickly led to a dramatic revitalization.
The store went from a run-of-the-mill convenience store with few options to a place that sold food and ice cream by day, as well as toe-tapping live music and extravagant dinners by night. The Butteville General Store coordinated with Bose, receiving a state-of-the-art sound system, which has brought an influx of talented musicians and bands into the fold. Now the store is the hottest ticket in Butteville, routinely selling out Saturday nights with a waiting list to get a table for dinner and the high-energy live music.
"This is one of those places that is at the heart of Oregon. For people who enjoy and live the Oregon spirit, we want this place to be that touch point, so that people today can come here, experience this and understand this place," Leo says. "Dori has been such a blessing for the store. She's brought very high-quality food and the spirit of trying new, different things to make things work."
The jolt of energy is a big reason Krause and Batten fell in love with the location just minutes after entering the premises. While they didn't know what they were walking into on that fateful day, they say the history and significance of the Butteville General Store is not lost on them.
"This is place is so us. The look and the feel of the place just gives off that special feeling that this was an important place. It's just wonderful," Batten says.
Brattain says the store is open to more weddings in the future, while Leo says the Friends of Historic Butteville are excited to share the building's history with the greater community. Krause, meanwhile, says it will always remain a special place to he and his bride.
"This is a very special honor for us, to be the first people to get married in a place with such rich history," Krause says. "I think we might be the first of many weddings in this beautiful place."
For more information about the Butteville General Store, or to see a complete schedule for live music, visit them on Facebook at bit.ly/2tDUpqS.