Founded in 1871, the Owyhee County ranching community of Oreana boasts a church with a colorful history that dates to Idaho’s territorial era. The building which houses Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Catholic Church was constructed in 1883 and served as Oreana’s first general store and post office. Financed by Michael Hyde, the town’s founder, the structure was built by local stonemasons Jim Kelly and John Pierson who employed two-foot-thick blocks of local stone for its construction.
The stone store changed hands several times over subsequent decades until 1961 when owner Albert Black donated the abandoned, roofless shell to the Catholic Church. Under the leadership of Father Merzbach of Nampa, the building was rehabilitated for use as a place of worship. This renovation added a belfry, porch, and new doors to the exterior while the interior features apa-tone wood from Japan, native stone floors, and wrought iron posts that support the roof.
Listed in the National Register in 1980, Our Lady, Queen of Heaven continues to host occasional services and prove that any building can be repaired with the right motivation.
Source: Idaho State Historic Preservation Office