A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The old church will get its steeple back

Written September 3rd, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The Cumberland Church at Santiam and Main as it looked on Thursday evening.

As you would expect, the former Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Albany looks kind of stunted without its little steeple.

The steeple was lifted off the building on Sept. 1 as scheduled, in preparation for moving the building itself on Sept. 16.

As often as this project has been talked about in the public prints, including here (“prints” being used loosely), I was surprised this week when a business owner not far from the scene asked me where they were moving the old church, and why.

So, again: The 129-year-old church is being moved to a vacant property, already excavated in preparation, at Pine Street and Santiam Road. (Santiam is the street on the left in the photo.)

A volunteer group of neighbors and others, the Cumberland Community Events Center, has been raising money and is buying the city-owned property on Pine, moving the building there, and hopes to reconstitute it as a place for events like meetings, weddings and so forth.

The city of Albany bought the old church and its lot in 2000 for $150,000 to make room for a street reconfiguration which later turned out to be unnecessary. Ever since then, succeeding city councils were more or less eager to get rid of the church, which was costing several thousand dollars a year for what little maintenance was done on it.

Once the building is gone and the basement hole filled in, the present council is expected to put the empty lot on the market in hopes of reimbursing the street fund for part or all of the $150,000 it spent 20 years ago.

Awaiting the move, on Thursday night the steeple was sitting behind the church, safely encased by sheets of particle board. After it’s repaired, the plan is to put it back on the building where it belongs. (hh)

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