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Oso Chapel celebrates 100th anniversary


Christopher Andersson

The Oso Community Chapel, seen here, held its centennial celebration on Sept. 19.

The Oso Community Chapel likely started its foundation in 1915 and the community around it today came together on Sept. 19 to celebrate its centennial anniversary.

About 100 years ago the congregation used to share a log cabin with the local school, however after the log cabin burned down they looked for a new space.

A local family donated land that would remain in the church's possession as long as the land was used for a church.

With $300 and some volunteers, the group began to build the Oso Chapel, according to Gail Blacker, a community member and one of the organizers of the centennial celebration.

Blacker said she spent many hours digging through archives of The Arlington Times to find the exact date of the opening, but wasn't able to find anything.

Many of the people who would know the date have passed, she said, but she found that the foundation of the church was started in 1915.

Throughout the years various improvements have been made.

Indoor plumbing was added in 1981, and the group used to have to use a two-seat outhouse.

"I used to have bad dreams about that thing that my kids would fall in it," said Blacker.

It was an argument sometimes to get the indoor bathrooms as well, said community member Anita Merritt.

"I think arguing for indoor plumbing took a lot of convincing, they were like 'well, why do you need it?'" she joked.

There used to be no heating in the building as well, and Blacker recalls having to sit near the stove to get warm.

"We didn't have any heat in here, but that pot-bellied stove helped," she said.

They've made some renovations to the building as well, improving various rooms and making a taller bell tower over the years.

"The bell has been rung since it was here," said Blacker, who added the years of use can be seen on the bell. "It's worn flat on both sides from being rung over the years," she said.

Even without the modern amenities, Blacker said the community has become family over the years.

"For us that go here, we're like a family. It's just like a big family. Many of us have gone here since we were young parents with 2-year-old and 3-year-old kids," she said.

"I wouldn't know any different, they're family here. I'm 37 years old and this is just where I've always been," said community member Joy Alskog. "Even if you go away for a little while, you come back and it's like you never left," she said.

Alskog said that the membership has waxed and waned over the years, but there's always a small faithful core of people that stay there.

She said she remembers the picnics, events, and songs that have been sung at the chapel.

Merrit said she has been going to the chapel since she was 3 years old and has had many good times there as well.

"I remember all the sing-a-longs and get-togethers we've had and all the potlucks, and all the memories, there's so many memories," she said.

The chapel received a grant to help fund improvements after the Oso mudslide on March 22, 2014.

"We kind of became a hub during the slide and we realized how limited our facilities were and our ability to have anything here was," said Blacke. She hopes they can continue to improve being a community center with those funds.


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