It’s no secret that we like the community spirit of little Smartsville, up the road east of Marysville just off Highway 20. 

Folks there are seriously engaged in the restoration of an old church that had for years been let go.

We toured the Church of Immaculate Conception about five years ago and came out shaking our heads, supportive but a bit doubtful about restoration efforts. The church, once grand and at the center of community life back when the town was bustling with gold mining activity, was just so far gone, it was hard to see how it could be kept from falling apart.

The Smartsville Church Restoration Fund was created in 1998 to start dealing with renovations.

So much needed to be done and every project on the building was limited to what the small group of community members could raise a dollar at a time. It’s been entirely a pay-as-you-go deal, and there’s been a years-long race between getting work done and the building sinking deeper into ruin.

Well ... they’ve kept going ... replaced roofing, shored up the foundation, rebuilt the porch ... it’s starting to look like a very real possibility.

And, recently, two donors have pledged matching funds.

“Ned and Carol Spieker, owners of Saddleback Ranch in Yuba County, came to Pioneer Day and were impressed with our restoration progress,” said Kit Burton. They pledged a donation of half the expected construction cost – $70,000 or half of the estimated $140,000 to renovate the bell tower.

They’re also getting some support from the nonprofit restoration group HistoriCorps.

The annual Pioneer Day celebration is April 27. It should be in the midst of work on the bell tower. It’s always a pleasant small-community event with performers, re-enactors, food, tours and lots of visiting. 

It’s a good time for folks throughout the county to pay Smartsville a visit and see what’s possible with some grit and determination ... and maybe leave a few dollars behind to help the cause.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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