Falls City's Historic UMC

The History of Our Church In The Community

The Great Migration of 1843 brought the first flow of pioneers across the Oregon Trail into the Oregon Territory; others followed year by year. Some of these enterprising community builders settled in the Luckiamute Valley. The farmers among them were attracted by the rich virgin soil. Others saw the vast timber resources and the falls on the stream as a source of power. Small mills soon grew in the immediate vicinity of the falls and up in to the nearby forested hills, and the settlers named the area "Pleasant Valley".

Before the present Falls City United Methodist Church was established and the building constructed, the church was a branch of the Dallas Methodist Episcopal charge. Meetings for this group were held in a one-room school which was briefly called the Pleasant Valley School.

The original gathering place was built in 1885 and served as the area meeting place. Two other religious groups used the facility as did the Pleasant Valley Grange. At this time, an interest developed from an idea supported by the Pastor of the Dallas Methodist Episcopal Church for the group to create its own facility. Two years later, as the Methodist group in the newly formed Falls City grew, they made a visit along with their Pastor, to one Mr. John Teal, Senior, a local settler and timber mill owner on the creek which still bears his name. He supplied lumber for many of the local buildings.

They asked boldly if he would contribute the lumber to build the church so that it might be opened as planned in 1892. Mr. Teal stretched out his hand and pointed to the surrounding hills, saying that lumber for the church was up there. He would contribute the trees and mill the lumber if the church members would cut and haul the trees to the mill.

The Falls City Real Estate Company donated the lots on which the church still stands, and the parsonage lots were purchased from the Falls City Reality Co. for Ten Dollars (The parsonage was built in 1899, but unfortunately no longer exists). The church building was built by local carpenters in 1891 and 1892, and finally opened for worship in 1892.

The first trustees of the present church were appointed in 1891, before the church was built, and the articles of incorporation were executed on December 31 of that year. The actual building of the church was begun under the pastoral leadership of Reverend D.T. Summerville who resided in Dallas. He gave it the name "Beulah Methodist Episcopal Church" in 1892.

The reverend Dr. Scranton preached the first sermon in the church in 1892 - even before it was completed or dedicated. When this first sermon was preached the church still lacked doors and windows.

In 1889 enthusiastic “boosters” came together and incorporated the town which they named Falls City. A North and South Main Street was laid out; churches were built and a proud school system was created. The railroad came in 1903 and the lumber industry boomed. By 1910 the booster club billed its town as the “Queen City of Polk County. Under this booming growth, the Beulah Methodist Episcopal Church grew to a membership of 140, and at one time 200 were attending services and Sunday School.

In 1939 the Methodist Episcopal Church unified with other branches to form "The Methodist Church". In 1968 a merger with the Evangelical United Brethren created "The United Methodist Church", the official name of today's Falls City Church. The Falls City church has served the community of Falls City for over 100 years. While several other churches have come into being locally, none is as old, or has the distinguished history and the historic architecture of the UMC.

The Architecture Of Our Church

The Falls City United Methodist Church is among the oldest and best preserved churches in Polk county. Its vernacular "carpenter Gothic" style is rare and unique. Its general appearance is severe and plain, with minimal decoration. Its proportions are balanced, exemplifying the best of western Oregon rural church architecture of this period.

Additions and repairs to the main body of the church, and the one small addition of restrooms have been planned and constructed in keeping with the style and materials of the original 1892 building. Foundation piers and horizontal supports are hand-hewn timbers. Floors are vertical-grain Douglas Fir. Interior siding is ship-lap fir covered in traditional fabric with paper overlay. Exterior siding is 8" bevel. Some windows are stained glass. Window casings are carved. Decorative moldings compliment most of the doors and windows.

The bell-tower is a particularly attractive architectural element, with louvered vents and excellent proportions. The lateral nave windows are pointed, divided into three registers, designed to be opened from the inside. Several doors are hand-made. The door to the bell-tower is a pointed Gothic wooden door in a pointed door frame. Pews are hand-made, designed with carved trefoil designed ends.

The Church Through The Years

This is a picture of the Beulah Methodist Episcopal Church in Falls City, from approximately 1914, before any additions were made to the structure
Original Structure

This is a picture of the church from 1958, showing the addition of the friendship room and southwest porch (built in approximately 1920), and the parsonage (on the left) which no longer exists
1920 Additions With Parsonage

This is a picture of the as it stood in 1993, partially restored on the exterior
Structure In 1993

This is a picture of the as it stands today, with the new addition, and most of the restoration done
Post Reconstruction With Addition

The Church's Plaque from the National Registry Of Historic Places
Historic Registry Plaque

 

Location: 242 N. Main in beautiful downtown Falls City Oregon

Time For Services: 10:00am on Sunday

Our church is open to all, and we welcome both residents and visitors alike. Please come visit our historic church and share in our worship and fellowship!

Pastor: Linda Grund-Clampit
Phone: (503)510-6511
Email: pastor@fallscityumc.org
Mail: P.O. Box 473
          Falls City, OR 97344