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As It Was: Circuit Priest Helps Build Gold Beach, Ore., Church

Prior to 1924, the village of Gold Beach, Ore., was hardly recognized by the Catholic Church until Father L.E. LeMiller decided to build a small place of worship to accommodate the dozen or so parishioners.
Father LeMiller was the pastor of Bandon, a territory including communities along the South Coast to the border with California.  He limited his Gold Beach visits to three times a year because of the distance and difficulty of travel.

In Gold Beach, worshipers gathered for Mass in family homes or inside a bedroom at the Sunset Inn.  Father LeMiller felt holding service in a hotel bedroom was unacceptable, so he purchased a building lot with his own funds.  The church contributed $500 and construction began on a structure to seat 20 worshipers, adequate for resident Catholic families, but requiring visitors to find standing or kneeling room outside.

Father LeMiller continued to make his coastal rounds in a Model-T Ford.  Several years after he retired in 1933, plans began to relocate and build a new, larger place of worship.

Today, the little Catholic church still stands, unoccupied, and in disrepair.


Sources: Schroeder, Walt. They Found Gold on the Beach. Curry County Historical Society Press, 1999, pp. 271-72; Black, Rev. Joseph. St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Gold Beach 1925-1975. Catholic Sentinel Press, 1975, pp. 5-9.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.