Clear Creek Church: A Historic Landmark in Camp Verde
Clear Creek Church is more than 100 years old, but its simple beauty endures.The small airy church, with its many windows and peaked roof, is located about three miles outside of Camp Verde’s business district. It sits in an open field, which looks much the way it did when the church was first built.
Accounts of the day describe how the community gathered to construct the hand-hewn church in February 1898. Farmers led wagon trains to haul rock from a nearby quarry in White Halls, close to Hayfield Wash. Then the men cut the rock to order, supervised by an expert stone mason, and erected the church’s walls in one day.
In the cornerstone of the building they placed a bible and a $5 gold piece (which was chiseled away in the 1920s). The women prepared a celebratory picnic and served a buffet on an improvised table made from boards and sawhorses.
Inside, the church was simply adorned. The most notable feature was a white organ built by Farrand Votey in Detroit, Michigan, for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where it was exhibited.
Clear Creek Church has gone through many incarnations since its beginning.After being Camp Verde’s only church until 1913, it was transformed into the city’s one-room schoolhouse, where generations of local children studied for a quarter of a century.In 1938 the church was called into service to be a cannery for World War II.Eight years later it was abandoned.
The Burgbacher family purchased the building. In December 1974 Ralph Burgbacher donated it and the organ to the Camp Verde Historical Society. The society raised nearly $20,000 to lovingly restore the historic church with reclaimed wooden floors, a wooden ceiling, a pulpit and 14 pews and prayer benches.
More than 200 people came to the reopening ceremony in 1979, including then Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt.In the 1980s the Burgbacher family purchased the original church bell and donated it to the Camp Verde Historical Society. A new belfry was completed in 1997.World-renowned sculptor John Soderberg, a Camp Verde resident, built a bronze, three-dimensional memorial plaque to honor the family. The plaque sits outside the church’s front door.
Today Clear Creek Church, which is looked after by the Camp Verde Historical Society, is rented out for special events, especially weddings and memorials. It can comfortably seat 75 people.For more information, call 928-567-5960.