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Exploring the Owyhees

Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Church

By Chelsea Chambers   Photos Brent Stanger

Idaho entrepreneur, Brent Stanger, along with his son, and friend headed out to the Owyhees on a mission to find a good camping spot. But like so many adventures, they found something they would have never expected.

“It looked like something from the old west,” Brent shared. “There were some other collapsing structures but next to them was this really interesting-looking old building.”

By happy accident, Brent and the boys had stumbled upon the Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Roman Catholic Church. Built in 1883, the structure originally served as the General Store for the small ranching town of Oreana, Idaho, which is about 60 miles outside Boise. It was also the town’s post office. After several decades, the building fell into disrepair and was later renovated by the Catholic Church. Built out of impressively thick stone, the overall structure of the building remained firmly intact. But in the early 60s, the Catholic Church replaced the roof, constructed a belfry, and added several other Gothic features to the building’s architecture.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and is now a protected structure.

“I really enjoy looking at old buildings,” Brent said. “And the boys thought it was cool too. So, we ended up camping right nearby and exploring the area!”

Our Lady, Queen of Heaven is open to the public and has announced their 2021 mass schedule. Beginning at 10 am, the next mass is scheduled for July 10 and then again August 14. For more information about mass scheduling and the church itself, contact St. Paul’s Parish at 208-466-7031.

And a friendly reminder: always bring extra water and supplies when exploring the Owyhees!