In the late 1920s, when Reverend Phelps and his wife Stella made monthly wagon trips to preach on the coast, he wrote, "As I was coming through Yachats, I was impressed by its need." Thus in 1929, he bought a double lot for $200 to put a church on.
Phelps and volunteers built The Little Log Church by the Sea in the shape of a cross. The prime building material was Douglas fir logs donated from up the Yachats River. Unfortunately, most long-lasting log structures on the coast are made of cedar, not Douglas fir. Consequently, for much of its existence, the Little Log Church has been in dire need of repair.
The Church's bell was donated by a Portland church and the pews by a Church in Philomath.
Stella Phelps, who had a peg leg, played the pump organ during services. To this day, you can see an indentation on one of the organ's pedals.
The painting of the Three Wise Men in the Church's sanctuary was painted in the 1950s by two art teachers for a Christmas pageant. The canvas is a bedsheet on Masonite. The night before the pageant, one of the artists woke up with a troubling question: did we paint the right number of camel legs? In the middle of the night, the two artists drove from Ten Mile to count legs. They could have stayed in bed. There were 12 legs.
The sculpture of St. Frances that is in the garden was created by Brian McEneny, in memory of Isabel Prescott, a former curator at the Little Log Church. The Little Log Church hosts a Blessing of the Animals in the garden on the first Sunday in October, the Sunday closest to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Most of the blessed animals are dogs, but they've also blessed the fire department's goats, former City Council member Greg Scotts' ferrets, and even the moles that dig up the garden.
Reverend Phelps had been with the Oregon Conference of the Evangelical Church, but by the 1950s most of the congregants were Presbyterian. In 1968 the congregation was too big to hold services in the Little Log Church, so they held services at the Yachats Ladies Club, while building a new church.
In 1970 the new Yachats Community Presbyterian Church was dedicated, The Church of the Agate Windows, at 360 West 7th Street.
The Presbyterian Church sold the Little Log Church to the Lincoln County Historical Society, and in 1986 the Lincoln County Historical Society gave the property to the city of Yachats. By 1992 the whole structure was in such bad shape that it was condemned. A team of volunteers spent two years taking the Church apart, saving as many of its original logs and windows as they could, and rebuilt the Church.
The one-room manse that pastors and their families had lived in was so deteriorated that it was torn down. A museum addition was put in its place. Today that museum has exhibits about the local history, local artifacts, a vast shell collection, and a few real oddities, including a huge old hair-curler that looks like something out of a horror movie.
Today weddings are held at the Church along with concerts and other gatherings. Every Valentine's day Mary Crook, events Coordinator for the Little Log Church and a non-denominational inter-faith minister, presides over a Wedding Ceremony of Renewal and Commitment.
Today (2020) there is dry rot throughout the Church: the post and beam foundation is rotting, and temporary plywood put on the south and east walls to protect rotting logs wasn't caulked or sealed so water has now seeped through to the interior sheet rock.
The City of Yachats and the members of the Church's board have to decide what to do about the structure: do nothing and let it continue to rot; repair it (assuming it can even be repaired); or salvage what logs can be salvaged, and build a replica that captures the "spirit and essence" of The Little Log Church by the Sea.
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