Oysterville is located on the Long Beach Peninsula on Willapa Bay in the state of Washington.
Founded along the banks of Willapa (once called Shoalwater) Bay in 1854, Oysterville’s development was directly related to the harvesting of native oysters and shipping them to San Francisco in the 1850s – 1880s. Within the village are several surviving residences and other buildings constructed in the late 1860s and early 1870s, some of which are significant for their architectural qualities. These are among the few remaining structures associated with one of the northwest’s earliest industries.
The Baptist church was built in 1892 on land donated by R.H. Espy, who also provided $1500 for its construction.
Regular Baptist services ceased in the 1930s and the church eventually reverted to the Espy family. In 1981 they arranged for its re-dedication as an ecumenical church and gifted the building and property to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation.
The Oysterville church is more than just the most recognizable architectural landmark of our village. Its unlocked doors allow visitors a rare reprieve from the pace of ordinary life. This is the introduction that many people have to Oysterville, and is the memory that they take home with them. Hundreds of people sign the church guest book every year-they marvel at the building, thank it for simply being here, and make a donation before moving on. The “poor box”, located in the church vestibule, has long been a reliable source of revenue, helping to pay for the historic structure’s ongoing maintenance.
The church was considered “state-of-the-art” and included a three-foot-deep, zinc-lined baptismal font under the dais. For the dedication service, the women and children of the congregation filled the font with water from a pump in the yard across the street. At the conclusion of the service it was discovered that no drain had been provided; the water had to be removed in like manner by bucket brigade. Thereafter, baptisms continued to take place at the bay.
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