A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Moving that church: Is there no alternative?

Written October 2nd, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The church is to be moved down Santiam Road, left, just past the rail crossing in the distance.

The Albany city planning staff has concluded that there’s no “prudent or feasible” alternative to the proposed move of the historic Cumberland Church. Really?

The conclusion that there’s no good alternative is the main point of the staff report to the Albany Landmarks Commission, which on Wednesday (Oct. 7) will consider authorizing the moving of the building from 401 Main St., where it’s been since 1892, to 520 Pine Street, less than a quarter-mile down Santiam Road.

A lot of planning and discussion have gone into this project, and the city council has encouraged the move because it wants to get rid of this millstone, so there’s no reason to doubt that Landmarks will give its OK.

Still, is it true that there’s no prudent or feasible alternative?

The building should be preserved as an artifact of Albany’s — albeit relatively short — architectural and cultural history. By why can’t it be restored and preserved where it sits, in the place where its history is real, instead of being moved away from its historic site?

“The property at 401 Main Street SE has a limited number of available uses due to site constraints and required improvements,” the staff report asserts. There’s hardly any room for parking, is what that means. But so what? People have been gathering in that building for much of the last century, and the parking situation has been the same.

The staff report cites an estimate of a few years ago that restoring the church on site would cost $300,000. That’s a lot, but not nearly as much as the more than $1 million it is estimated to cost to move the church and turn it into an event center at the Pine Street address.

If restored in place, the old church could continue to host events and serve as a source of community pride in the Willamette Neighborhood the same as it has for 128 years, and at less cost in money and time. (hh)

22 responses to “Moving that church: Is there no alternative?”

  1. Nettie says:

    Leave it where it is if for no other reason than the historical value of the building in that spot. Also, leaving it there and restoring it is way more cost effective.

  2. Bonnie Jones LeCornu says:

    I love this old church & can’t imagine not having it on this for years to come. If people would offer their time to fix it up along with the city restoring it all of our children’s children could enjoy the beauty of this church as I have for 70 some years. Why can’t we save it on it’s original spot? Please leave it where it belongs.

  3. Pamela says:

    Leave the Church at the original location. Quit messing with history!

  4. Janet Suyama says:

    I agree. It’s a beautiful landmark. Leave it in place and spend the money on something more important.

  5. Katherine says:

    It’s my understanding the adjacent business wants the property for expansion. It’s a chance for the city to sell it and put some money in its coffers. I would bet if they sell it will be underpriced but I’m sure they see that as an incentive for more business.

  6. James Engel says:

    Yes, moving it would entail a bunch of work & $$. BUT, where it’s at now has dismal parking if you plan an event. Moving it would provide proper parking.

  7. Sarah Dorgan says:

    They could spend the $300,000 to restore the building where it is. Spend a bit to pave parking at the other site. When they have an event people can either park and walk or they could run the trolley. The cost to move it is estimated at a million? Does that also include restoration too? Or does the restoration cost have to be tacked on top? All I can do is shake my head.

  8. Bill Kapaun says:

    What condition would it be in if the city hadn’t purchased it?

    Sell it to the highest bidder and let them do whatever they want.

    It’s easy to talk about “restoration”. Not so easy when YOU have to put your money where your mouth is.

    • Geraldine Fullrr says:

      Seams like the most cost effective is to restore it. Saves $700,000. Its part of our history and should be preserved. There is so many tearing down our historical sites and they need to be saved when ever possible. It could be moved and restored to increas the parking but please do not destroy it…

  9. Michael quinn says:

    Actually. Your on to something. Just think all the staff time put into this 10’s of thousands of dollars. So if they don’t move it. Then what. Is the mayor going to sue the group for not moving forward like they did Pepsi corporation. Wow the city could get the 100 thousand saved up to renovate it and spend it foolishly like they did the 25 million. This is the same city staff wanting to stick 5 million into a very old non complaint building downtown????

  10. Andrea says:

    So the city thought restoring it where it sits at a cost of $300,000 is too much, but moving it and restoring it at over a million isn’t?! That just sounds ignorant to me, it’s our tax dollars they’re gonna use and they should do the restoration where it sits and use the rest where our city needs it! Leave the church and it’s history where it is!

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The city, at this stage anyway, is not planning to spend any money on saving or moving or restoring the building. The proposed move and restoration is up to a private group, and any money for this has to be privately raised. Four or five members of the council have made it clear no more city money is to be spent on this building, but three of those won’t be on the council next year.

  11. Sherri says:

    I moved here about 4 yrs ago. That church is BEAUTIFUL. I had told my daughter can you imagine the history in there. The souls saved.
    For someone new to the area restore it. It has purpose, it has memories for some people, as well as beauty to others.
    I’am anxious to be able to see inside.
    My opinion may not matter being new to the area, but its beautiful, I bet it was gorgeous in its earlier years.

  12. Susan Comer says:

    Leave the church where it is.

  13. Tracy foote says:

    Leaving it would be a blessing for our town .. history where it stands.. is there any way to find out volunteering to help with restoration?? I would love to help clean .. scrape off paint or paint.. im sure others would be happy to be part of that as well .

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      There is an ad right below these comments that can help you get in touch with them…

  14. Robert D Stalick says:

    Just curious. Is there nothing close by that could be developed for parking for this church? If parking is the problem, let’s see what can be done to develop parking spaces rather than moving the church..

  15. Robyn says:

    Leave it where it is and restore. Can we stop this idiotic decision? We can do better

  16. CHEZZ says:

    Well, another idea……..
    Use parking across the road when those businesses are closed or when those lots are near empty – those lots are never filled with cars, and many are ‘come and go’.
    Just maybe that business area would receive more business from those utilizing the church space.

    • David Smith says:

      I agree that there is alternate neighborhood parking, albeit perhaps not “official”. Some friends and I play string music (violin and cello) and we performed (gratis) at Cumberland last year. It was a rest stop on the Parade of Homes. At that time, a Saturday afternoon, there seemed to be some parking in the gravel/grass lot adjacent to Cumberland, at the warehouse next door, in the Baldwin construction parking lot, and across the street in the small shopping center. The church itself is an interesting place, a great indoor space for music or speakers, although at that time there was no functioning water or sanitary sewer service. Half the electrical outlets were not functioning either. But the light coming through the clerestory windows was beautiful and the old church definitely had a calm and peaceful aura about itself.

  17. Joel Orton says:

    As is often the case, there is a lot more to this issue than what’s been commented on here. The building, as it sits today, has many more problems than a lack of parking. The $300K cost estimate to renovate the building was done in 2013 without the benefit of drawings or specifications (necessary to define the work to be done).
    Rather than submit a lengthy comment to clarify the many misunderstandings, I invite anyone who is interested in learning more about the Cumberland and plans for the future to send an e-mail to contact@albanycumberland.org
    A member of the nonprofit organization leading this effort would be happy to discuss the matter with you and provide a tour of the building. (Note: pre-arranged small group tours are offered on Sunday afternoons.)

  18. Amy Hoff says:

    Are they still thinking of moving the church next to the skatepark and railroad tracks? If so, then who would want to use this venue for a wedding or funeral ect. at that location?


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