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189 years of Methodism in Oregon City


Jason Lee and Alvin Waller

In 1834, Rev. Jason Lee arrived in Oregon and settled on a site near present day Salem and commenced building a Methodist Indian school. He wrote back to the United States encouraging other Americans to immigrate to the Oregon Country, an open country claimed by both U.S. and England.


In June 1840,  a group of 53 persons arrived to assist Lee with his mission plans. Rev. Alvin Waller, his wife, and two children were assigned to Willamette Falls; now Oregon City. The village was originally a settlement of about 150 Indigenous Clackamas Native Americans. John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver, previously had built, and later abandoned, a saw mill and block house at the Falls. Waller borrowed some timbers from that and built a house near the edge of the Falls, on the east bank of the river. It served as parsonage and store.

Oregon City in 1852

This oil painting shows our church at its original site at 3rd and Main Street where the paper mill is now located. Directly behind it is the McLoughlin House at the foot of the bluff. This village became the first community incorporated west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Second Location

1857 - 1890

Moved by ox team in 1857, the church was placed beside the parsonage in the center of town at 7th and Main Street and both surrounded by a fence.

The Second Building

1890 - 1903

In 1890, the original church building and parsonage were moved to the back of the block, and this new gothic style building replaced them on Main Street.

The Remodeled Second Building

1903 - 1919

The church was raised up, the steeple shortened, and a store built underneath. The church entrance is the arched door on the right. Fire destroyed the entire structure in November, 1919, just days after the end of WWI.

The Future Church and Parsonage

about 1900

The Eastham-Morey-Caufield mansion at 8th and Center was purchased and remodeled as our next church. The Mount house behind became the parsonage from 1929-1958. This picture was taken before Singer Hill was paved and the McLoughlin House was moved up the hill from Main Street in 1909.

The Third Building

1920 - 1949

The mansion was remodeled in 1920 and became our next church building. This is how it appeared in 1943 at its 8th and Center Street location.

The Fourth Building


The old church was razed and this building replaced it in the same location. The spire was later remodeled due to water damage. This picture was taken before the parsonage next door was razed for a parking lot. Now in a restricted historic district and needing to be enlarged, the building was sold in 1999 and the congregation moved to its current South End Road location.

The Fifth Building

Constructed in 1997/8Consecrated in 1998, this structure provides a home for our present goal of serving our community. May God bless us in our future years!

What's next?

We've had many buildings, several locations. Who knows where God will lead us next? What we do know is this... For 188 years Oregon City United Methodist Church has faithfully followed God, striving to live in God's love. And we know that we will go with hearts courageous into the future, in whatever God has planned for us, for 188 years more and beyond.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Oregon City

First Location


In September 1840, Rev. Alvin Waller and his family arrived at the Falls of the Willamette (now Oregon City) as missionaries to the natives. He built a temporary two-room dwelling at the edge of the falls. In December 1842, Waller and Rev. Jason Lee persuaded 27 Americans to pledge $837 to build this first Protestant church building west of the Rockies. It was 40' x 26' with a bell donated by George Abernathy. Its corner post is now on display in the Museum of the Oregon Territory.

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