The Old Stone Church is in the Old Town Historic District in Bend. Originally known as the First Presbyterian Church it was built in 1912. At the time Bend was part of Crook County. Deschutes County was formed from the western half of Crook County in 1916. The total cost of church construction was $7,000. The first service of the First Presbyterians was held in the nearly completed church in 1913. In the beginning the church was actually referred to as the stone church because it was the first church in Bend made out of stone. The tuff stone came from the Bend Company Rock Quarry on the west side of the Deschutes River.
At that time The Bend Company, owned by Presbyterian leader, Clyde McKay and others, was in the process of building most of Bend and gave the Presbyterians their lot on Franklin Avenue. In 1910, the census of Bend put the population at 536 people. With the building spree by The Bend Company, the Mirror Pond Dam of 1910 put in by the Bend Water, Light and Power Company and the excitement of the Harriman and Hill railways coming in 1911 the population skyrocketed to 5, 415 in 1920. The Old Stone happens to be located between the streets of Harriman and Hill.
The Old Stone is in the Craftsman style with Gothic and Tudor style details. It has basalt stone corners as well as the tuff stone. The church includes decorative cut rafter tails (an element of the Craftsman style), basalt stone quoins and decorative bargeboards. The ornate stain glass windows sport a “Bend” commercial club seal. The windows are an indication that supporters of the Bend Commercial Club were also members of the Presbyterian Church. The windows were hardly damaged in a devastating fire that occurred in 1982. Because of the Church’s close proximity to the fire station the Church was mostly saved. Damages were estimated at $250,000. Several walls and the roof needed to be rebuilt and a gas furnace replaced the implicated wood furnace. It has been fully restored.
Various church groups owned the property until 2006. At that point with a change to private ownership the re-invention of the Old Stone as both a church venue and event venue began. Uses were gradually expanded to include music concerts, public presentations, film, fundraisers, graduations and other community events. Many local people stepped up to develop the new Old Stone Performing Arts Center. It’s now dedicated to hosting and producing events that enrich the cultural vitality of the community by serving its artistic and educational needs.
The business is being structured as a social benefit company with a focus on community partnerships. Recent improvements have included installation of a 1600 square foot oak dance floor and the beautiful Altar Café in the old sanctuary serving on tap some of Bend’s favorite local draft beers at events along with wine and other libations. Bend’s newest yet most historic event center is now hosting concerts, theater, dance, film, weddings and community events every week.