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Longview Community Church

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1924–1926, H. L. Copeland and Son; Hare and Hare, landscape architect; F. W. Clearman and Son, builder; 1949–1950 addition, George MacPherson. 2323 Washington Way.
  • (Photograph by David A. Rash)

The Gothic Revival Longview Community Church was the first church to be constructed in Longview. To build it, R.A. Long, the founder of Longview, donated the $25,000 site and the chimes in the bell tower. In addition, various executives of the Long-Bell Lumber Company, such as S. M. Morris and Wesley Vandercook, were involved in its realization. The church was built adjacent to picturesque Lake Sacajawea about a half mile southwest from the central park of the model town. As part of the original plan, the church was envisioned as the sole religious edifice for the city.

The brick masonry church is trimmed with terra-cotta and set upon a slightly raised reinforced concrete basement. The two primary street facades are anchored by the massive bell tower, while the Tudor-arched windows of the end gables of the transepts are flanked by a semi-octagonal engaged tower capped with crenelated battlements, common to the English Gothic Revival. The floor plan is a traditional Latin-cross design with a five-bay nave, while the plaster vaulted ceiling is hung from steel roof trusses.

The Longview Community Church was established on October 14, 1923, some four months after the dedication of the city itself. Reverend E.H. Gebert, a Methodist minister from Tacoma, served as the first pastor of the church with services being held initially in the nearby Community House. By May 1924, planning was underway for the construction of a church building with discussion being made with R.A. Long about possible donations. Towards the end of 1924, the local architectural office of H.L. Copeland and Son was given the commission to design the church, much to the displeasure of A.N. Torbitt, who was then the official architect for the Long-Bell Lumber Company for work in Longview and nearby Ryderwood. The initial budget was $200,000, but was quickly reduced to $100,000 due to fundraising difficulties. Plans were basically complete by April 1925; however, bids in July 1925 came in over budget at $138,000. This led to a decision to reduce the size of the sanctuary and to forgo finishing the basement spaces during the initial construction phase.

By December 16, 1925, F.W. Clearman and Son was awarded a contract of $89,500, which allowed construction to proceed. The church was completed in 1926. The education wing, designed by George MacPherson, was added in 1948–1949. In 1962, a separate chapel building was constructed on the grounds and named for Gebert. A choir annex was also added to the original building.

The concept of one church for the city, which was the original guiding ideal, did not last long. As the city grew, the Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians all constructed facilities for their congregations before the 1920s had come to an end. Even the Disciples of Christ, the denomination of R.A. Long, constructed its own church, the First Christian Church, much to the dismay of the trustees of the Longview Community Church. An attempt to establish a satellite community church in the Saint Helens Addition in 1929 was not successful as the intended congregants preferred to remain with the original church rather than being consigned to a less imposing structure. Among the city’s several religious structures, the Longview Community Church remains one of the most impressive.

Writing Credits

Author: 
David A. Rash
Coordinator: 
J. Philip Gruen
Robert R. Franklin
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Data

Timeline

  • 1924

    Design and construction
  • 1949

    Design and construction of education wing

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Citation

David A. Rash, "Longview Community Church", [Longview, Washington], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WA-01-015-0036-06.

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