On the edge of a sprawling dairy farm on Highway 2 sits an unmanned chapel the size of a small bedroom.
The same sign warns drivers there are no facilities at the tiny chapel, which seats eight in its four small pews.
“There’s room for a dozen people, maybe,” said Brad Pattie, the unofficial historian of the chapel just west of Sultan.
The roadside attraction has been around as long as the Space Needle. It was built to accommodate faithful travelers heading to the World’s Fair.
“It was dedicated on Oct. 12, 1962, on the day of the Columbus Day storm,” said 71-year-old Pattie. “It looks almost the same (as it did in 1962), but it has gone through some cosmetic changes due to time, weather, and graffiti.”
Over the years, the church has weathered many storms, all while greeting visitors from near and far.
“People say, ‘My parents came by when I was a child, and now I’m bringing my child here,’ that kind of thing,” said Pattie.
Some have gotten married at the chapel, never mind the size. Others, including Pattie’s niece, have renewed their vows there.
“I played a song on the guitar, and I had to stay outside because the place is so small,” Pattie said of his niece’s ceremony.
Pattie has become known as the chapel’s spokesman over the years, and “not by choice.” He is a longtime member of Monroe’s New Hope Fellowship Church, which, in partnership with another Christian Reformed Church in Everett, first erected the chapel. The partnership has since dissolved, and the chapel has been left to fend for itself, with a little help from the locals.
“It’s had peaks and valleys as far as blessings and curses go in its life,” said Pattie. “There were some vandals, tried to pull the steeple over with rope (tied) on the bumper of their car. Well, of course, they pulled it over, and it landed on their car. And of course, they were caught.”
But each time the chapel has been damaged, someone has volunteered to fix it up.
“The door’s been fixed, because sometimes it’s been kicked in,” he said. “Youth groups will do some painting, roofing. From time to time, somebody will volunteer and say, ‘I’ll take care of the lawn-mowing.’”
Perhaps it’s fitting that Pattie has come to be the chapel’s historian, as it was his wife’s aunt who donated the tiny square of her farm for the chapel to be built. And in the early days of his marriage, Pattie and his family lived in a trailer on that same farm.
And from the notes visitors have left behind, Pattie has learned many others share his reverence for the space. The messages express thanks to those who look after the church, or recount fond memories of the chapel from years past. Some leave a request for prayers. Others leave a little money.
“The chapel itself is really kind of inviting. It doesn’t look at denominations. It’s not proselytizing. It’s there. That’s its biggest message. It’s a place where people can feel free to come, like the sign says, to stop, to pause from their busy life, reflect in their life, and worship in their own way,” said Pattie. “It’s unassuming, it’s very inviting, and it’s very forgiving. And I think that aspect is what’s kept it going.”