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Restoring the past for the future

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - It has that wow factor, said Hubbard Chapel owner Randy Durig, referring to the light streaming in through the stained glass windows in the 120-year old building.Wilsonville businessman Randy Durig loves history.

And as a Pacific Northwest native he particularly enjoys the beauty and craftsmanship of 19th century churches built by the practical and hardworking men and women who settled the Oregon Territory.

So when the opportunistic Durig saw a chance to renovate one, he jumped. The end result now is on display in historic downtown Hubbard, where the newly refurbished Hubbard Chapel stands at the corner of H and Second streets.

“Right now in Oregon there’s a lot of people running from the traditional old church,” said Durig, motioning around the interior of the chapel, which features distinctive multi-hued lighting provided by a wall of stained glass at the front of the sanctuary. “The modern church wants big, and this kind of thing is being left behind.”

Celebrating life. That’s the motto of the Hubbard Chapel, which primarily hosts weddings, receptions and other types of family or public gatherings.

In a sense, it’s a fitting moniker for a building originally erected by local farmers who actually built a pair of garage doors into the tiny, one-room structure. Over time the church was expanded and the original sanctuary converted into storage. The doors were forgotten about as the building and its membership grew apart from an agrarian start.

So when Durig purchased the church from the United Church of Christ in November 2012 for $235,000, according to Marion County property records, he saw a lot of potential in a historic building.

“I’ve always been attracted to old buildings, what I think of as trophies, and when I looked at this property, even though it was rundown, I knew it could be a trophy, and I thought we were able to do that because it has excellent bones.”

When renovation work started, that longstanding interior wall came down as part of a plan to enlarge the sanctuary for weddings. There, Durig was surprised to find the original, 120-year old garage doors preserved inside.

The white cedar was in pristine condition. So Durig pulled the doors out intact, and they now serve as the centerpiece of the sanctuary behind the pulpit, bathed in the colorful light provided by a wall of stained glass.

There were other hidden finds as the building was cleaned out and rebuilt. So much so, that Durig, who served as general contractor for the remodeling, was able to use repurposed wood in prominent areas in the chapel.

“Almost all the wood here was recycled, even though it’s gorgeous and looks really new,” Durig said, showing off the former garage doors, wainscoting and other features that use the building’s original bones. “Really, the majority of the content here was hidden in the walls for years.”

Durig probably is best known for several decades of success in the business world. He heads Durig Capital out of Beaverton and owns a host of other companies, including Weddle Funeral Homes in Stayton. He excels at rebuilding struggling companies and selling them at a profit. He also has played the stock market and used his financial acumen to great effect and now is looking to branch out into a role he likens as a public steward.

“Part of the story is we put in a lot of effort here, thinking we’re a short-term steward,” he said. “And maybe in 10 to 20 years, hopefully, if we do it right, if we’ve got it to a shape where it’s quite functional and eye-appealing, and we’ve taken it back more to where it was 120 years ago instead of 20 to 30 years ago — then we will have succeeded.”

Durig has put, by his own estimation, roughly $50,000 into the building on top of the purchase price. But the value of restoring a downtown landmark in a way beyond the capacity of its former owners brings a satisfaction without a price tag.

“We’re still not done,” he said. “My best guess is that we’ll constantly be improving it for the next 10 years or so. But the main chapel is mostly finished and quite eye-appealing. It has a ‘wow’ factor.”

He lamented the lack of recordkeeping surrounding the church, leaving him to only guess at former members of the congregation, clergy and others who once might have had a hand in keeping up the building. At the same time, he’s too busy working to make the new wedding chapel a success to worry much about those kinds of details.

“People are running way, they’re running away from belfry-style churches. Modern churches don’t want that, and there’s lots of them throughout the Pacific Northwest that are just dying, literally, and we were trying to find a cause where we could run a business and keep it up and make it charming.”

Hubbard Chapel is located at 2934 H St., Hubbard. For more information, call 503-767-7700 or visit hubbard-chapel.com.



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