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Claquato Church

The Community
Claquato was once the biggest settlement between the Columbia River and Olympia, making it an important stopping point for people traveling. According to information gathered by the Lewis County Historical Society, the community three miles west of present-day Chehalis contained two hotels, a general store, the church, stables, a blacksmith and a carpenter shop.

Claquato’s importance was fleeting, however, as the railroad bypassed the settlement and instead took people directly to the brand-new town of Chehalis. With the most important mode of transportation at that time leaving Claquato all alone, the town began to die out.

The Church
The Claquato Church is a modest structure, measuring 20 feet by 30 feet. The sanctuary occupies all but 7 square feet of that length, with an entry area occupying the other space.

Building the church was a true community effort, as lumber from the sawmill at Claquato Hill was used to build the church, and the village blacksmith made the nails for the building. People donated labor for the project, and several of the fixtures — including pews, the pulpit and pastor’s chair — were donated by the kind pioneers of Boistfort.

For some time, the church also functioned as a one-room schoolhouse.

One of the distinguishing features of the church is its belfry. Octagonal in shape, the top mounting is a symbolic crown of thorns, which is an apparent reference to the Christian story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. The church’s bell was made in Boston and delivered via ship around the horn of South America.

The church, whose congregation was Methodist, was a place of worship for local residents long after the community of Claquato proper had dwindled. In fact, services were held until the mid-1930s.

Decline & Restoration
With no congregation to call the church home, the building fell into disrepair. Vandals hastened the deterioration of the building over the years. With no religious group having ownership of the building, the future of the church was uncertain.

Lewis County Commissioners stepped in and took over the care of the building, and the title was vested in the name of Lewis County itself.

The American Legion, Post 22 of Chehalis, aided in restoring the church in the name of public service. Their work was completed in August 1953, and the church has subsequently stood as a memorial to Lewis County’s pioneers.

The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, cementing its status as a nationally certified, culturally significant site.

The Site Today
Claquato Church stands today and looks nearly exactly as it did in historic photos, with care and maintenance done in regular intervals by Lewis County facilities staff. It opens throughout the year for several events, including the Lewis County Historical Ride, Pioneer Pie Social and other special occasions.

The site contains a historical marker and is readily accessible for exterior viewing by the public at any time. It can also be rented for special events; just contact Lewis County Parks at (360) 740-1192.

The interior of the church contains wooden pews, a small pulpit and other accessories much like one would have found in pioneer days. The wallpaper of the church evokes the pioneer era.

The Claquato Church was forged with great care by some of the very first settlers in Lewis County. Now that it belongs to the county, it’s truly the people’s building — and it’s with respect for those who came before us that we all continue to have a hand in its preservation!

How To Get There
From Chehalis, take State Route 6 about three miles west of downtown and turn right on Chilvers Road, then take an immediate left onto Stearns Road. Take another left onto Water Street, and the church will be on your left.

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Places to stay nearby

Best Western Plus Park Place Inn

Chehalis, North
Starting at: $98.00

Econo Lodge

Chehalis, North
Starting at: $73.00

Holiday Inn Express & Suites

Chehalis, North
Starting at: $116.00

Relax Inn

Chehalis, North
Starting at: $70.00

Places to eat nearby

Sabra's Place

337 NW Chehalis Ave.,
Chehalis, WA 98532
(360) 345-1371
Website
Yelp!

Taco Del Mar

1435 NW Louisiana Ave.
Chehalis, WA 98532
(360) 767-0800
Website
Yelp!

The Shire

465 NW Chehalis Ave.
Chehalis, WA 98532
(360) 748-3720
Website
Yelp!

Denny's (Chehalis)

118 Interstate Ave.,
Chehalis, WA 98532
(360) 748-6851
Yelp!

Market Street Pub

523 N. Market Blvd.,
Chehalis, WA 98532
(360) 748-6777
Yelp!

Avenue Espresso (Chehalis)

1757 N. National Ave.,
Chehalis, WA
(360) 740-6140
Website
Yelp!

Barking Mad Coffee Co

711 Main St.,
Chehalis, WA 98531
(360) 304-2275
Monday-Friday 5:30am-5:00pm, Saturday 7:00am-4:00pm, Sunday 8:00am-2:00pm
Website

Ocean Sky

601 N. National Ave.,
Chehalis, WA 98532
(360) 740-8838
Website
Yelp!

Upcoming events in the area

Spring Youth Fair

May 5-7, 2017 from 5:00pm-5:00pm

35th Annual Lewis County Historical Ride

Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 7:00am

WSU Lewis County Master Gardeners Plant Sale

May 13-14, 2017 from 9:00am-5:00pm

Relay for Life of Lewis County

May 19-20, 2017 from 4:00pm-5:00pm