Since 1884 Canby Pioneer Chapel has proudly shared a very strong heritage and history in the city of Canby Oregon. This grand structure, located on the corner of NW Third and Elm Street, was built in 1884 by the First Methodist Episcopal Church, making it one of the grandest and oldest structures in the state of Oregon. This lovely white-frame building augmented by a steep 40-foot bell tower, in classic Gothic Revival Style, was originally located one block South on Second and Elm Street.
The early Methodist pioneers held their first worship services in private homes, then in two log Schoolhouses before moving services to the white schoolhouse built on the prairie by William Knight in 1875. The O & C Railroad donated 40 acres west of Canby to the Methodist Church in 1872 which was used as a campground and site for annual meetings. Additional buildings were erected for services sometime later. One of these relocated cabins still sits behind the Stogdill-Knight house at 486 SW 2nd Avenue.
By 1884, the need for a church “in town” prompted the construction of our white frame church on what was then called “block eight” of Canby’s 1870 mapped townsite of 24 Blocks. Two lots were donated by the church’s first pastor, Reverend Samuel Mathews. Mathews was a nurseryman, growing trees in the townsite’s western portion. In 1891, he donated a third lot to the Methodists for a parsonage. The house at 569 NW Third was either Mathew’s home or more realistically, the parsonage. In 1910, the church and its two lots were valued at $3,000, but they were soon considered too small. The following year, Frank E. Dodge was hired to build a new Moorish-style church; which still stands and is the current facility for the Church of God in town. At that time, our little white frame building was moved to the north of the lots and turned to face Elm.
St. James Roman Catholic Parish bought Pioneer Chapel in 1912 and moved it to face NW Third at Elm where it stands to this day. Archbishop Alexander Christie dedicated the little Catholic Church on Thanksgiving Day in 1912. Reverend Father Matthew Jonas lived in quarters at the rear of the building; as did his successor Reverend Father Michael Fleming. During the period that Father Jonas served the church (1915-1934), many improvements were made. Parishioners dug a basement under the church which held a wood-burning furnace and later an oil burner. Stained-glass windows created by the famous Povey Brothers of Portland were added; inclusive of the round one which depicts Jesus at the rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. These were given in memory of Dora Wurfel of Barlow. A pump organ provided music for the services. Pressed tin, crafted by Joseph John Klupenger around 1920, adorns the current interior walls.
In the early 1940s, the Catholic church built a rectory next door to house the priest and in 1957, renamed St. Patrick’s Parish, built a new church on NW Ninth. Ownership was maintained by the Catholic church until 1962 when the church and twelve lots were purchased for $28,500 by Mrs. Mina Freyer; a Ninety-One (Whiskey Hill) school teacher.
Various tenants occupied the building; including several church denominations, an antique shop and a dance studio. Sheldon and Catherine Spalding, and Rufus and Betty Jacobson owned the church for a short time before June of 1978 when Joe and Joan Burleson purchased it for the Willamette Academy of Arts. From 1979 until 1989, Christo Fellowship once again held services in Canby’s oldest church. Darlene Key, owner from 1989 to 2005, preserved the historical church. In 2005, Marilyn Nash purchased the little white church and renamed it The Canby Wedding Chapel. In 2015 Marilyn had the vision of turning the Chapel into a beautiful music venue which has been the site for some of the finest musical entertainment in the Northwest.
In 2016 Marilyn, Canby Pioneer Chapel Performing Arts founder teamed up with Michael Allen Harrison who took great pride, investment and promotion in this magical performing arts center. Together, they invite you to bring your special event to this charming spot... concerts, lectures, recitals, corporate events and parties. While Michael will be doing his own concerts at the Canby Pioneer Chapel, he and Marilyn will also schedule the venue to other artists to perform, record or film. Michael has installed an audio file recording studio on the property including a beautiful concert grand piano for recording and performing guest artists.
Welcome to the Canby Pioneer Chapel a world class venue and destination place!