The beginning of my second fall project is coming to fruition! Oysterville Store is now carrying my tote bags, designed with my photos of the historical architecture there. This shop hides near the top of the Long Beach peninsula in Washington state and is like a hidden treasure on a lost coast. When you find this place, you think you are in on a big secret. And then you walk the streets of the neighborhood and bay and forget what year you even live in.
The first tote bag design includes their local church, built in 1892, which I explored and had all to myself one lucky day. It was a bit intriguing finding two "closets" to either side of the pulpit that could barely fit two people in them comfortably - i wondered if this is where altar assistants hid till it was time to come out. When I stood at the pulpit, the door swung open from the wind, and no one entered (spooky!). There is a nicely preserved wood stove in the back of the pews, and behind the building, there is an outhouse fashioned with cedar planks that has a cute wooden moon cut-out.
Oysterville has a rich history, much like Astoria. It was discovered first by natives and settled by Americans for access to its most abundant natural resource, for which it is named. It soon became a boom town with about half bar-flies and half church-goers, according to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation. The first successful business owners made a fortune selling oysters to San Francisco, whose citizens would pay a silver dollar for a single Willapa Bay oyster!!
Like a grey ghost, the bay slowly swallowed up several full city streets closest to the water, which have now disappeared. Much like Astoria, the city lost its attractive business prospects when the new railroad of the 1880's was built just shy of the city, and the rich supply of seafood became over-harvested. The courthouse records were stolen by raiders from a county just south of there, and the city fell into a sleepy daze. (There is more to this story...)
You are probably not going to believe me when I say this, but Oysterville has less than 10 full time residents and only 2 walk-in businesses, not counting the post office. WOW! If that is not an American ghost town, I don't know what is. But it looks pretty dainty, thanks to the efforts of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, the local residents, and the city's designation as a National Historic District.
Hopefully by next spring, I will be filling the Oysterville Store with more designs. Also, look out for my future event posting for an art show in downtown Astoria that will include my photos of Oysterville as well as the north coast of Oregon.