819 John Adams Street - First Baptist Church of Oregon City

This imposing 1943-1945 brick church dominates the southwest corner of 9th and John Adams streets. A 2-1/2 tower rises from the concrete steps that curve around the corner offering access from either street. The square tower has a pyramidal roof and deeply set-in pointed arches that contain the doors. South of the tower is a front facing gable with a tall, pointed arch window. Another small arched entrance with a front gable fits into the bottom of the roof pitch. Attached south of the gable is a two story brick building with a large ramp for the disabled attached in front. Metal sash windows are on the second floor only. A continuous decorative band runs above the windows with vertical bricks and decorate cast stone. The north elevation includes two gabled dormers with decorative barge boards and four gothic windows with decorative buttressing inbetween. The windows have lentils and caps.

Statement of Significance: In 1940, due to the widening of Highway 99E, the congregation of the First Baptist Church sold its downtown property and bought the current site. Dr. Ross Eaton, Walter Sanatel and other members of the fundraising committee engaged architect Donald Edmundson to design the new church. The congregation lacked the funds to finish the building and moved into the gymnasium portion in 1941. Two years later, the church was completed and in 19445 was formally dedicated. This congregation is the oldest continuing Baptist congregation west of the Rockies. The first meeting was organized by Vincent Snelling and David Lenox of the Tualatin Church in 1847, and Hezekiah Johnson, who sent to Oregon with the immigrants of 1845 by the Baptist Home Mission of New York, was the congregation's first minister. In 1848 Johnson built the first local meeting house at 13th and Main Streets. Throughout its early years, the church was subjected to floods, intermittent meetings, and fluctuating membership, due to the call of the California gold fields. In 1870, the congregation moved to a new church, designed by F.F. White, at the corner of 9th and Main Streets. Leaders in the church at this time included D.C. Latourette, Harvey Cross, W.C. Johnson, Henry Warren, and F.O. McCown.