Pioneer Chapel Recognized with 2019 Canby Beautification Award

Marilyn and Marty Nash, owners of Canby Pioneer Chapel Performing Arts, were recognized last week for their efforts to beautify Canby by restoring and improving the historic wedding and music venue on the corner of NW 3rd and Elm.

Canby Area Beautification and the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce presented them with the 2019 Canby Business Beautification Award for their contributions to enhancing the beauty of Canby.

“I think that they’ve just done a spectacular job with both the building and the grounds,” said Cathy Rae Smith, of Canby Area Beautification. “It’s really a wonderful location.”

At this week’s Canby City Council meeting, Smith relayed a story about a time that a contractor accidentally broke one of the chapel’s historic stained glass windows.

Rather than having the window repaired with modern techniques (which the roofing company offered to do), Marilyn dug into the history books and contacted a French glass maker to get the exact type of glass that had been used in the original construction.

“Her commitment to beauty, as well as things being done with integrity, is just really exceptional,” Smith said.

The chapel was originally built in 1884 by the Methodists and local carpenter Frank E. Dodge, who adopted a Moorish style for the little white church. Marilyn Nash acquired the structure in 2005, when it was in desperate need of a new roof, and more than a little bit of TLC.

Marilyn was up to the challenge, actually taking up residence on the second floor of the chapel while she worked each day to bring her vision to life.

For several years, the chapel has been gaining a reputation in musician and performing circles as one of the best kept secrets in the Pacific Northwest, but this past year in particular, Marilyn and Marty have focused on the chapel’s grounds, with an eye to making the building’s exterior and gardens match the subtle elegance and old world charm within.

An outdoor tent for performances, receptions and other events was added, as was a brand-new, electronic sign that Marty and Marilyn joke is “Vegas-style.”

Marilyn’s also particularly proud of her authentic English garden, overflowing with dinner plate dahlias and imported French hydrangeas, and her other flowerbeds — all of which she still tends herself.

“I love gardening,” she says. “My grandmother was a master gardener, so I’ve always loved gardening. It’s a beautiful outlet for me.”

Hear more about the history of this Canby treasure, as well as Marilyn and Marty Nash’s vision for its future, on Episode 101 of the Canby Now Podcast.

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