The following is a brief compilation of the rich heritage of this beautiful manor and the community that surrounds it. This “Village” was founded in 1853, when members of a wagon train crossing over the Cascade Mountains through Naches Pass settled an agricultural community in this fertile river valley. The town was first called Stuck Junction, until later, in 1891, the name Sumner was established, later going onto the railroad depot after the town was incorporated.
Jeannie Bartel spent many hours reading through documents, perusing through literature at the Ryan House Museum, as well as going through reels of microfiche at the library, trying to put together the history of this beautiful old church building, now called the Winsome Grace Manor.
In the year 1854
A few “Christians” were meeting in Sumner to worship God, but during the Indian Wars of 1855-56 hostile Indians drove these “Christians” from their homes to the Steilacoom plains. In 1858, these “Christians” organized into the first Christian Church in the state of Washington. These members moved back to Sumner in 1863 and met in the old school house. In 1879 an evangelistic meeting resulted in the addition of many new members, and they built the first building in the year 1883. This original building with many improvements is still being used by a congregation of 300 “Christians” in Sumner, Washington, 1952. (Written on the back of a commemorative plate left on our doorstep)
It is interesting to note the Indian uprising started in Bonney Lake, when a Union Army soldier was killed by Native Indians. The people fled to Fort Steilacoom, the location of the present joint military bases near Olympia. This all occurred in the years just preceding the civil war.
Construction of the building, which is located at the corner of Washington Street and Wood Avenue cost $2,500.00 and $400.00 was paid for the lot of land.
the house the John Porter family lived in at the Sawmill Camp was purchased for $40.00 and moved a mile and a half from Ryan’s Mill, north of Sumner, to a lot west of the new church. The house was placed on skids and moved with a team of horses. The house was used as the Parsonage.
“An early settler said that Sumner was founded on this church and truly it was the center of all life from its beginning until modern amusements and other organizations rivaled its influence.”
(‘In the Little Crossroads Church’)
the Methodist Church paid off the mortgage and the church held a mortgage burning which the community was invited to attend as stated in the September 8, 1899 issue of the Sumner Herald.
“…one could fill columns with stories of the socials held to help earn money to pay for the new church.” (From an article titled “In the Little Crossroads Church.”
the church was sold to a group of Japanese American farmers who held services in it. Sometime in the 1930’s to early 1940’s the Parsonage and church were joined and made into one building.
When World War II broke out, the Japanese immigrants were taken to Puyallup and Eastern Washington and placed into internment camps, until the war concluded. After the internment of the Japanese, it became a Free Methodist Church.
the church was sold to Baptists.
Duane Bartel purchased the old church. It had fallen into horrible disrepair for quite some time, but Duane sensed something special about this very old, sad grey painted building. He looked beyond its dilapidated condition, to see that it represented over 100 years of history in the community. If you take the time, you can easily imagine the many young couples standing at the altar, pledging their lives to one another over the years.
The church was a meeting place for a group of young settlers to worship God, gather for socials, and dreams of growth and new beginnings. Imagine the sounds of hundreds of young children who have run up and down the stairs, the auditorium being filled with joyful noise, or even the sound of the piano spreading its melody throughout the building announcing the beginning of worship service. In a sense, this building represents the hopes, dreams, and love of an entire community that was built around this beautiful, old church. With that in mind, it was easy to make the decision to purchase the church and begin a process of love and learning. The process took roughly 20 years to restore the old church, leading to many unique and interesting discoveries in the walls and under the floor boards, but this recounting will be a subject of a future article.
On January 8, 2007,
Duane received a letter from the Mayor of Sumner, Dave Enslow. In that letter, the Mayor wrote, “I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful job you have done with your house. Lots of Sumner residents have been admiring your work for a long time, and so I thought it was time I officially thanked you for doing so much to give new life to an old Sumner treasure. Thank you, your efforts went over and above the normal call of duty to keep Sumner looking beautiful. I think you truly took the best of our past and gave it new life for a wonderful future.”
On May 28, 2011,
Duane and Jeannie Bartel, were married in this old church. Their hopes and dreams were to see this old building become, once again, the heart of the community. They wanted the Winsome Grace be a place where loved ones could gather to celebrate the joining of two households, to celebrate new life or beginnings, and give a place where those can gather to passing of their loved ones. They hoped to continue to keep this spirit of growth and wellness of life for centuries to come.
On February 22, 2021,
Dave & Jimmi Serfling, took on the exciting privilege of continuing the efforts of keeping this community landmark and memory maker, known as Winsome Grace, a big part of its local community!
Meet the new owners!
“We are looking forward to meeting couples interested in sharing their special day with us at Winsome Grace Manor!”
“There have been days where Duane and I have looked back on his decision to undertake this challenge and thought, “What was he thinking?” But, now the light shines brightly at the end of a very long and challenging tunnel.”