Wrecking crew tears down community church in historic Bridal Veil
- Calvin Hall
- Gresham Outlook - News
The old Bridal Veil Community Church, one of the last standing public buildings in the historic lumber mill town, was torn down Thursday morning, Oct. 27, ending its more than 70 years of existence.
The church, built in 1940 with lumber milled at the old Bridal Veil Lumber Company, had sat vacant since the church congregation accepted an offer to move into the former Springdale Community Bible Church building on Oct. 10, 2010.
Since then, it was a long wait to see the building inevitably torn down by the Trust for Public Land, which purchased the Bridal Veil Lumber Company property in 1990 with the intention of demolishing the remaining buildings and reselling the land to the U.S. Forest Service.
Rodger Canzler, chairman of the Bridal Veil church board, was one of the few locals who visited the old church on Thursday to watch and take photographs as crews with LOI Demolition Services of Portland demolished it. Crewmembers offered him the chance to use a trackhoe to take the first whack at the church.
Canzler said he declined the offer, telling them, 'No, I'd probably cry.'
Springdale resident Gary Law, a more-recent member of the church, noted it would have been difficult for longtime church members to watch the building being torn down.
Canzler said it was a wonderful church that served many weddings, funerals, receptions and community events over the decades. Since the trust disconnected the church's water about 10 years ago, church members had to bring in water for the toilets, he said.
Geri Canzler, Rodger's wife and a 28-year member of the church, said railroad tracks were nearby and noisy trains would occasionally roll by while congregants listened to a sermon or prayed.
'It was always good for a laugh,' she said. 'You could either sing or sit there quietly for a few minutes.'
The congregation had been able to use the church for years on a lease with the Trust for Public Land. A few years ago, it was learned that the church was bisected diagonally from corner to corner on property owned by the trust and by the Union Pacific Railroad.
Unable to purchase the church from either organization and to make the necessary renovations, the congregation used the old church on borrowed time until it accepted an offer to move into its current church on Northeast Lucas Road in Springdale.
Geri said it would have been very costly for the church's congregation of around 25 regular members to bring the old church up to code and to keep paying for the insurance, especially when it was not for sale.
'If we had ownership of the church and were able to do those things, we could have stayed,' she said.
Rodger said the congregation was able to salvage about 90 percent of the church's knotty pine walls, as well as the pews and old windows, before finally moving out of the church in December 2010.
The Canzlers, who also started the Bridal Veil Preservation Society, said the congregation's new church has full facilities, such as restrooms with running water and a kitchen, more parking and space. More people have joined the church as well; the current congregation runs between 35 to 40 members.
However, the old church was still a wonderful building that will be missed, they said.
'It's down and basically it's a sad thing, but it's a good thing because we don't want any eyesores in the community,' Rodger said, noting he was concerned about the church being vandalized or being used by squatters during the winter.
Bridal Veil Community Church was one of the few buildings left in Bridal Veil, a bustling community during its heyday from 1886 to 1960. With its demolition, only the historic cemetery, owned by the Bridal Veil Preservation Society, and the 124-year-old post office, which is on railroad property, are the remaining public areas of the town.