Althouse Community Church
The historic Bridgeview Church was originally called the Althouse Community Church and was built around 1893 by volunteers using donated materials nailed together with square nails made by John Seyferth who owned a blacksmith near the community of Holland. Lumber may have been hauled by wagon from a sawmill in Kerbyville (4) or from the Logan Mill located about two miles away on Takilma Road (9). The roof rafters were made from hewn poles and covered with shingles. The pulpit and pews were hand made by local crafters.
There is no record of the exact site where the church was first constructed other than it was on land owned by E. McCann located about one mile from its current location (1, 2). A map of the Waldo Mining District drawn in 1911 (9) shows the location of McCann’s property about half way between the church and the intersection of Holland Loop and Takilma Road, the place generally known as Bridgeview.
A 1915 topographic map shows several buildings clustered at the intersection of Holland Loop and Takilma Road, which in those days was an important intersection of roads leading to the mining communities of Holland and Takilma. This would have been a good midway point that minimized the travel distance residents would have to travel to attend services and may be one reason why the church was constructed in this vicinity.
The central location of the Bridgeview intersection was also likely the reason why the Illinois Valley Grange was constructed here in 1905 and Doctor Spence, one of the few physicians in the valley, had his residence next to Althouse Creek immediately south of the Takilma Road Bridge.
It is very likely that wagons hauling copper ore from the Queen of Bronze Mine near Takilma used this road to avoid two crossings of the larger and flood prone East Fork of the Illinois River, which would have been necessary if they wanted to follow the stage road between Waldo and Kerbyville.
The small cluster of buildings known today as Bridgeview has a history that reaches back to the earliest years of the 1851 Oregon gold rush. This was the location of “Walling’s Ranch” a place that had been an important supply point for miners during the mining boom on Althouse Creek (7). The ranch included the first house to be constructed in this region that was built in 1852 near the mouth of Democrat gulch where it merged with Althouse Creek. Miners purchased supplies and boarded their horses at this ranch while they remained at prospects along Althouse Creek. Prospectors arriving from the port town of Crescent City may have also passed by here on their way to the gold strikes in upper Sucker Creek. McCann’s property may very well have been part of the Walling ranch.
Sometime in the late 1890s, a decision was made to move the church from McCann’s property to the location where we see it today. The reason was likely to move the church off of private land and on to land the church had acquired from Solomon Keefer in 1895 (4, 10). This is the land where the church currently is located. The move was likely accomplished by skidding the building down the dirt road using a team of horses although it is equally likely a steam tractor could have been used.
Church services were provided by preachers called “circuit riders”. They rode from community to community and held services in homes, schools or where ever they could. Services were given whenever a preacher could get to the community, which was often delayed for weeks or months if the weather was uncooperative. The arrival of a circuit rider was announced by ringing the church bell. This bell that was once on this church has since been moved next door to the roof of the new Bridgeview Church where a rope inside the church can be pulled for those who want to hear what it sounded like.
It is of interest that a picture taken in 1918 shows the belfry but no bell. It may have been moved to Spence School during that time (4). Sometime before 1947, the school was closed and sold to Roland and Vivian Thresham, who converted the school into their home. Myrtle Pullen who was Vivian Threshams mother wanted the bell from the school so it could be used at the church. She was given the bell on her 60th birthday and sometime later Dad Pullen built the current bell tower and with a crew of men from their saw mill (1).
In the early years of the church, coal oil lamps were used for lighting. These lamps were used even after electricity came to the area in about 1934, probably because electrical service at that time was provided only to persons who had appliances (8). Heating was provided by a large wood stove in the front near the entrance. This stove was replaced by a gas stove, which exploded and almost burned the building down in the early 1970s.
During the early part of the Great Depression beginning in 1929, when work was scarce, the circuit preachers were unable to afford to travel to the Althouse Church and the church was all but abandoned. It wasn’t until 1937 that services were again held.
In the 1950s a small house was moved from the Pullen Mill, located about a fourth of a mile away on Dick George Road across from the intersection of Maureen Road (the dam from the old mill pond forms a raised berm next to Dick George Road), where it was used as a parsonage. This building sat in the same location where the old fire house is today next to Dick George Road and about 100 feet from the intersection with Holland Loop. A large garden grew next to the building and produce was given to the needy.
The church was in use until 1987 when the congregation moved into the new and larger Bridgeview Church next to the historic church.
1) Anonymous. Bridgeview Church history book, a compilation of church history from various sources. Bridgeview Church, Holland Loop Road, Cave Junction, Oregon
2) Atwood, Kay, 1984. Josephine County historical resources inventory, 1983-1984. Josephine County Planning Office (1984), Grants Pass, Oregon
3) Illinois Valley News, October 9, 1969. Wandering Through Valley History. Illinois Valley News, Cave Junction, Oregon
4) Pfefferle, Ruth, 1982. Althouse Church-Bridgeview Church. Just my cup of tea. Illinois Valley News, October 7, 1982 (Part 1); October 14, 1982 (Part 2)
5) Pfefferle, Ruth, 1986. Members plan to make oldest church newest. Illinois Valley News, June 26, 1986
6) Rigel, Leona, 1955. Bridgeview home of old church. Illinois Valley News, August 25, 1955
7) Walling, A. G., 1884. Josephine County History. In History of Southern Oregon. Walling Publishing, Portland, Oregon http://www.orgenweb.org/josephine/history/hist2.htm
8) Mance, Ruth, 1986. Bridgeview Community Church
9) Gunnell, AH, 1911. Map of Waldo Consolidated Gold Mining Co. of Oregon, Grants Pass, Oregon
10) Josephine County Records, Book of Deeds, Vol. 14 Page 58 on the 12th day of January 1895, C. E. Harmon, County Clerk. (Solomon Keefer deeds property to church)
A special thanks to Greg Walters of Jefferson Financial for the use of historic maps from his personal collection.