The Steiner Log Church Took Over 40 Years to Restore and is Now Open for Tours
WELCHES, Ore. — The Steiner Log Church was built in the 1930s. It took the owner, Mike Gudge, over 40 years to restore this historic building. This process included transporting the 2,000-pound building through the woods to its current location, where it is now open for tours.
This week, “Let’s Get Out There” takes you to Mount Hood. Here, you will find a piece of history hidden in the trees at the foot of the mountain. Mike Gudge spent nearly four decades working on this monumental project that is finally ready for public viewing.
The Steiner Log Church was built in 1937. You will find it in Welches, Oregon, hidden in the midst of surrounding trees. While enjoying the forest, you can also enjoy this historic building Gudge brought back to life.
Mike Gudge said, “It took forty-six years to bring the church to this point.” Gudge is the owner of this log cabin structure. Henry Steiner and his sons, John and Fred, built the structure in 1937.
It is the latest historical destination in Oregon. It now forms part of two other historical buildings near Mount Hood. The iconic Silcox Hut and Timberline Lodge were built in the same year, making them three historic destinations on your list.
Gudge became the owner of the church in 1976, when the church was located in a different place. Because of plans to widen the highway, the church was under demolition threat. The option was to move it, and Grudge did just that.
Grudge recalled, “It was an ordeal to do so.” Moving the 200,000-pound structure through narrow roads to get it to his property came with many logistical issues.
The transportation faced issues, such as the cutting of one of the eaves to get the building past a telephone pole and a tree. It also nearly toppled off a bridge. Almost everything that could have gone wrong, according to Gudge, did. But he said that it was all worth it.
To begin with, it was an impressive and intriguing building. As Grudge remarked, the building was in bad shape with a lot of rot, and he just wanted to restore it to its original state.
Mike Grudge, with the help of Henry Steiner’s son, John, took 47 years to restore the church. Even though the structure was modernized by adding plumbing and electricity, the restorers preserved its historical significance.
Mike Westby is the marketer for the 1937 Steiner Log Church, so he is familiar with its past. He notes, “The wooden railing was entirely peeled by hand. Compared to a riser step, the half-round steps were simpler to construct. It is also always connected on the opposite side.”
“It is a masterpiece, which is why it is so iconic.”
Steiner’s trademark construction elements are evident throughout the building. It starts with the entryway, which has a wagon wheel design over it. Each railing has an offset “X” with doorknobs in the shape of Christmas trees.
Westby demonstrated, “When you turn it, it turns a latch, which is made from the root of a tree and wood.”
With his work completed on the church, Griidge believes that it is time for public viewing. Tours to the 1937 Steiner Log Church are now open. The church is open every first Saturday of each month. The hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It costs $10 for general admissions; seniors, military, and students pay $8 admission fees.
Gudge said, “My intention was to share the restoration with others using tours and events. I want people to appreciate the work that was done. It is my swan song, my legacy, as well as that of Steiner. It has been a spectacular journey, and I am proud of the engineering and the thinking behind it all.”