banner search whats new site index home

Old Town Historic District


Oscar and Hazel Thorson House, ca. 1910, 510 NW Delaware Avenue, Bend, OR, National Register

Photo: Oscar and Hazel Thorson House, ca. 1910, 510 NW Delaware Avenue, Bend, OR. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Photographed by User:Ian Poellet (own work), 2013, [cc-by-3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed February, 2015.

The Old Town Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2001, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Old Town Historic District encompasses approximately 32 city blocks and 338 individual parcels. The Old Town Historic District is located adjacent to the downtown core of Bend, Oregon and is sandwiched between the business district and former Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Mill site to the south. The eastern boundary of the district is defined by the Bend Parkway (formerly Division Street). The southern boundary is defined by the alley between Colorado Avenue and Delaware Avenue except for a small peninsula jutting one block to the south in block 4 of Deschutes Addition. The northern boundary is an irregular line that begins at the intersection of Broadway Street and St. Helen's Place. From there the boundary travels east down Idaho Avenue to Staats Street, then jogs to the north one block to Kansas Avenue. At the corner of Kansas Avenue and Lava Road, the northern boundary traverses to the north up Lava Road to Franklin Avenue (site of the original highway through Bend, which ran down Wall Street then east on Franklin Avenue). From the southeastern corner of Lava Road and Franklin Avenue, the northern boundary travels to the east, down Franklin Avenue to the Bend Parkway (formerly Division Street). The western boundary is located at Broadway Street, the far-western edge of the original plat of Deschutes.

The Old Town Historic District is relatively flat at approximately 2,630 feet above sea level. Several rock outcroppings within the district however have created slight hills and dips in the road as one travels down Wall and Bond Streets, and Lava Road, as well as across Georgia Avenue. On the northern side of Georgia Avenue, several large rock outcroppings have raised the homes approximately six to ten feet above the roadway in the 100, 200 and 300 blocks. As a result, in some cases, the garages are cut into the side of the hill, a full floor level lower than the main house. Most garages however are located on the alleyways. Several lava rock retaining walls are also found throughout the Old Town Historic District, as well as original metal street signs at each of the corners complete with decorative finials.

Sidewalks are inconsistent in the Old Town Historic District, with the only complete portion found down the full length of Delaware Avenue on the north and south sides of the street. The sidewalks were paved when the street was paved in 1921 as part of a massive paving project in downtown Bend by the Willitte Construction Company. Delaware Avenue was one of the first streets to be paved in Bend along with Wall and Bond Streets, and Congress Street. Historical images of the neighborhood show few trees in Staats Addition around the time of the platting of the neighborhood. Later images show that a massive tree planting occurred with mainly poplar trees in the landscape strips, most likely done at the time of street paving in 1921. Several large ponderosa pines do remain clustered in the 400 and 500 blocks of Delaware and Florida Avenue in Deschutes Addition and probably date to the pre-platting of the neighborhood. Within the 74.74-acre district, 46.38 acres are buildable property.

The Old Town Historic District features a variety of architectural styles spanning in age from 1910 to 1950. The Old Town Historic District however, is dominated by buildings that exhibit details of the Craftsman style (76% of the 327 primary resources). Thirty percent of the seventy-six percent are classified as Craftsman Bungalows. These homes are one to one-and-a-half stories tall and incorporate a large porch as well as the traditional Craftsman details. The second highest concentration of architectural styles is Colonial Revival in which only 18 structures can be found, or 4%. One Dutch Colonial, the Craig Coyner House (720 NW Georgia Avenue), can be found. Two American Foursquares are located in the neighborhood, although neither structure is a high style example. Four Workingman Foursquares, as defined by Alan Gowans in his book, The Comfortable House, are scattered throughout the Old Town Historic District.

One of the earliest homes in the Old Town Historic District is the Buchholz-Schmitz House at 5 NW Franklin Avenue. Built in 1910, the home is the only surviving structure in Bend that exhibits Victorian style detailing. Typical of the Queen Anne style, on each gable end, large sunburst motifs are highlighted by decorative cut bargeboards. The S. Muraski House (55 NW Hastings Place) was also built in 1910 but exhibits Colonial Revival style massing and detailing. Here the design of the home is symmetrical and boasts a shallow hip roof, boxed eaves and large columns supporting the entry porch. The youngest contributing property is the Carl Rasmussen House (37 NW Franklin Avenue) built in 1949. This modern home was most likely built by the owner who worked for Deschutes Concrete Products Company. Rasmussen used multi-colored concrete blocks for the exterior walls. Exhibiting a nearly flat roof, the Rasmussen House is reflective of the International Style with wide overhanging eaves, windows that appear to turn the corners, and a large chimney. Just twenty-six structures within the Old Town Historic District boundaries were constructed after 1950.

The most prolific style in the Old Town Historic District is the Craftsman style (76%). In the 1910s and 1920s when the Craftsman style took America by storm, the Old Town Historic District was being rapidly developed. The Craftsman Bungalow, some costing as little as $900, helped many Americans fulfill their wishes of owning their own home. Such a trend is evident in Bend. Appealing to the dreams and desires of many of their workers, both Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Companies helped underwrite the cost of a new home for their employees. The companies believed home ownership would not only stabilize the roaming timber worker, but would benefit the company by giving them experienced and faithful employees. Both companies encouraged their workers to buy a home using a variety of tactics including creating a monthly list in their newsletters of workers who had purchased a home. Such lists were accompanied by extensive articles, which proclaimed the benefits of owning your own home. Most claimed that homeowners were "more industrious, and were substantial citizens taking an interest in the school system, the laws, libraries and all other matters of public interest."

By 1920, the Craftsman Bungalow craze had reached its peak nationally and was starting to give away to a new style, the Colonial Revival. In smaller communities, however the Craftsman style held on for another 10 years well into the late 1920's and even into the early 1930s. In fact, within the Old Town Historic District, 52% of the Craftsman style Bungalows were constructed between 1920 and 1930.

The origins of the Craftsman Bungalow as a housing type are still under debate. Historians as distinguished as Vincent Scully and Harold Kirker have attributed the invention of the bungalow form to architects Charles Greene and Henry Greene, and claim for them the first bungalow built (1903). Robert Winter in his popular book Bungalow (1980) questions that claim, noting that the Greene brothers were only slightly involved in the paternity of the bungalow. Most historians can agree that the bungalow form has its roots in the Indian province of Bengal. There, the bangla (a common native dwelling) was a one-story dwelling with a thatched roof and open porch. In the eighteenth century the native hut design was adapted by the British, who used the form to build houses for colonial administrators and summer retreats in the Himalayas. Eventually, this economical, practical type of house invaded North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Most dictionaries are explicit when defining the term bungalow as a small one or one-and-a-half story dwelling with a low-pitched roof with wide overhanging eaves and a wide front porch. The use of rustic materials, such as brick, wood shingles and stone are also characteristic of the form. Porch supports are often square or tapered, frequently resting on piers, and the porch is often partially enclosed with a knee wall. A number of stylistic variations appear on bungalows, including Colonial and Japanese-influenced designs, but perhaps most popularly, Craftsman stylistic elements. The Craftsman Bungalow, popularized on the west coast and sometimes called the California bungalow, is characterized by exposed rafter tails, knee braces, purlins, exterior chimneys, and porches.

The "Craftsman style" Bungalow design spread rapidly across the country by architects, builders and designers in the early part of the 20th century. The style developed fully out of the work of Gustav Stickley, publisher of The Craftsman magazine (1903-1933), and Henry H. Saylor, author of Bungalows (1911). Together the authors promoted the style as a reaction to the excessive use of ornamentation by the Victorian style and called for a return to naturalism in architecture and landscape design. National periodicals such as Sunset, Ladies Home Journal, House Beautiful, and Good Housekeeping assisted in the promotion, publishing plans, elevations and numerous articles. Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery Wards and many other companies even offered Craftsman style "kit houses." Ordered by mail and sent by rail, the mail-order house arrived in two boxcars ready for assembly by the buyer or a hired contractor. As a result of these tireless efforts, the Craftsman style was the most frequently constructed house type in the country between 1903 and 1930.

In the case of the Old Town Historical District, hundreds of Craftsman style Bungalows can be found. Promotional literature in the early 20th century almost always noted the chief purpose of the Craftsman Bungalow was, "to place most of the living spaces on one floor." The one-story plan simplified the building process where utilities could be installed more easily than in a two-story house. Safety was at a premium because, in the event of fire, windows as well as doors, offered easy escape on a one-story home.

As the Old Town Historic District continued to develop, a few other styles appeared, but in very small quantities, among them the Tudor Revival style. Within the Old Town Historic District, just three Tudor Revival style homes can be found. The best example is the Harry Danielson House (407 NW Staats Street) built in 1939. This modest home features Colonial Revival details and a catslide entry vestibule. Twenty Colonial Revival style homes can be found scattered throughout the Old Town Historic District. They range in date from the mid-1920s to the late 1940s. The best examples were constructed in the late 1930s and early 1940s just before the start of WW II. Typical is the Bjarne Paulson House (455 NW Delaware Avenue) built in 1940. The home was constructed as a replacement dwelling for an earlier structure and has many details typical of the Colonial Revival style including a side-facing gabled roof with cornice returns, decorative shutters and six-over-one double hung windows.

Only one property with Spanish Colonial Revival detailing can be found within the boundaries of the Old Town Historic District, the Alfred Burkland House (237 NW Georgia Avenue) built in 1925. The Burkland House is the best example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style in Deschutes County with stuccoed exterior walls, a red tile roof and one-over-one double hung windows.

Physical Descriptions

Due to the large percentage (76%) of Craftsman style structures within the Old Town Historic District, a thorough description and further classification into sub-categories will be given for Craftsman style buildings. Craftsman style Bungalows are defined as buildings one to one-and-a-half stories with hipped or gabled roofs and large front porches. The essential elements include: exposed rafter tails, low-pitched roofs with over-hanging eaves, an emphasis on horizontal planes, exterior walls clad with horizontal lap board siding, stone, brick, shingle or stucco or any combination thereof, an honest use of natural, local materials for chimneys, foundations, and porch piers, and a clear interpretation of inner and outer spaces. Shed, gable and hipped roof dormers add elaboration to the style. Dormers can be functional to allow additional headroom to the second floor or can be merely decorative and add light to an attic space. Among the most distinctive features of the Craftsman style are junctions where the roof joins the wall. This eave area almost always has exposed rafter tails. The tails may be cut in many different shapes and patterns. The roof commonly has wide overhanging eaves and raking edges (up to 3 feet) on all sides of the house. On the raking edge, large triangular knee braces often support the large roof overhangs. Many models have decorative purlins instead of knee braces on the raking edge.

Porches are an integral part of the transition from exterior to interior space and are essential on Craftsman style Bungalows by definition. Porches themselves vary in composition but have certain similarities. Porch posts are usually square and can be full in height. More commonly however are half-size posts placed on large piers of stone, stuccoed block or brick. A typical design is to have full tapered posts (also called battered), in which the neck is smaller than the base, or to have merely a tapered pier and a square post. The desired effect is to have a porch post that appears to be able to hold the weight of the house and in many cases, often even looks largely over-scaled for the home.

Open trelliswork, or pergolas, are often found as an addition or extension of a porch. The location of the porch is usually at the front of the house as a symbol to welcome the visitor. A Craftsman Bungalow porch can stand alone (as a projecting element from the house) or be incorporated under the main roof of the house (as a recessed porch).

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of a Craftsman style Bungalow home is the use of natural materials that are native to the region where the building was constructed. Within the Old Town Historic District you can find exterior cladding of brick, stucco, clapboard, shingle, lava rock and any combination thereof. Chimneys, porch posts and foundations are usually left exposed to show the natural material. Basalt stone, lava rock, brick and tuff stone are common materials for chimneys and foundations. Roofing material was commonly wood shingles, although many asphalt shingles and tile shingles do show up in historical photos of the area. Pressed metal finials and ridge caps often add decorative touches to a roofline. Sometimes, gable roofs are clipped (also called a jerkin head roof) forming a small hip roof at the ends. Decorative wood patterns, open framing and board-and-batten, applications are often found above the porch area in the pediment.

The interiors of most Craftsman style Bungalows are characterized by open floor plans with a minimum number of doors. The result is that each space feels much larger than it actually is. Many Craftsman Bungalows have open living/dining room arrangements that are usually separated by a screen that consists of truncated columns sitting on half walls or bookcases with glass doors. Fireplaces of stone and brick (often found in Bungalows of over 1,000 square feet) are commonly flanked on either side by built-in bookcases and small windows. More elaborate Craftsman style homes have boxed beam ceilings, wood paneled walls with plate rails, hardwood floors and built-in sideboards and cabinets. Door and window moldings are often large in size, measuring at least four inches. Baseboards are commonly eight inches high. Craftsman style trim is simple in design and is usually stained a natural color. Interior walls are often painted the same natural earth tone colors of the exteriors and may have decorative stenciling or a wallpaper border as a frieze around a room.

There are seven basic Craftsman style Bungalow forms (all of which can be found within the Old Town Historic District): (1) the simple side-gable with a front porch, (2) the simple-hipped or pyramidal with attached porch, (3) the simple front-gable with a front porch, (4) a more complex double front-gable plan where the house and the porch roofs both create front-facing gables, (5) an even more complex triple front-gable plan where the house and porch roofs create three front-facing gables, (6) the cross-gable plan where the house is side-gabled and a porch or wing forms the cross gable, and (7) the Horseshoe Bungalow where two gables face the street and a cross gable forms a porch. Numerous variations on these designs can occur.

Significant Architects & Contractors

To date, none of the residential properties within the Old Town Historic District have been attributed to an architect. However, most of the homes do convey the hand of an architect or master builder at some level. A majority of the homes within the district may have been built from free plans and specifications that several local lumber companies offered in the early 1920s. In April 1922, Miller Lumber Company announced the creation of a new service department whose sole purpose was to "furnish advice to prospective home builders." Their competitor, Tum-A-Lum Lumber Company, also offered free plans with over 100 models to choose from. So popular was the notion of self-help within the construction industry that in 1922, the Deschutes County Library advertised that they had many books and pamphlets on house building that were arranged on a special shelf in the library.

There were practicing architects, however, working in Deschutes County from 1908 to 1950. They include O.G. Brubaker, W.P. Smith, Clarence W. Jackson, Lew K. Arnold, Hugh Thompson, George S. Young, Lee A. Thomas, Edward Keane and J.W. Dimick. Dimick, who was one of the first architects to practice in Bend, advertised his "high grade architectural work for business and residences" in the May 1911 issue of the Bend Bulletin. Proud of his work, another advertisement noted that Dimick had designed the homes for many of Bend's prominent business leaders. As an ardent promoter of well-designed and well-built buildings, Dimick also taught a carpentry class to the general public at the local high school, offering his services for $1.00 an hour. His services may have been used to design some of the homes within the Old Town Historic District.

Additionally many contractors and builders advertised that they provided plan services, but again, no homes have been matched to any plan service designs. Contractors and builders who offered plan services included Olson & Erickson, Hans Christiansen, Guy H. Wilson, Ben Gotter, Harry W. Gant (who specialized in California and Spanish Bungalows), John J. Cunningham, Brourcy & Brotsche, and J.P. Montague.

Economic factors such as the construction of the lumber mills, lead many developers and builders to purchase several lots on a speculative bases. One of the more prominent firms was the Bend Construction Company. Incorporated in 1915 in Libby, Montana, the company quickly purchased every lot (44 in total) on the north and south sides of Pine Street (now Delaware Avenue) in the newly platted subdivision of Staats Addition within the Old Town Historic District. With a capitol stock of $25,000, the company began erecting homes on each lot starting at the 100 block.

Per title searches, the homes were often sold directly to one of the two lumber mills, Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon. Both companies were strongly encouraging home ownership and carried loans for many of their employees. While a specific affiliation to the mills has not been determined, the secretary for the company was Robert D. Moore, Assistant General Manager for Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Company. Construction foreman, Frank Pival, was the local contact for the company in Bend.

There is a small possibility that several of the homes within the Old Town Historic District may be kit houses. In 1917, Lewis Built Homes advertised their services in the Bend City Directory. Based in Michigan, Lewis Built Homes had a production plant in Portland during the late teens. Several additional kit house companies also advertised their services in local newspapers including: the Ainslie Boyd Co. of Seattle, the Ready Built House Co. (later Fenner Manufacturing Co.), and Rice-Penne Co. of Portland. To date though, only one home in Deschutes County has been identified as a kit house. The Peter Byberg House (153 NW Jefferson Place), Sears Roebuck Company model #C240, was executed using local building materials in 1916 and was not built at the factory as a traditional kit home but rather is a stock plan offered by the company.

Existing Surveys and Status

Prior to the development of the Old Town Historic District, only six properties within the district had been previously identified through survey work and added to the statewide inventory of historic resources. Only one of the six is a residential property, the A.L. French House (429 NW Georgia Avenue) built in 1913. The others include two churches, one school, one commercial structure and one meeting hall. Five of those six properties have been locally designated. The exception is the IOOF Hall (265 NW Franklin Avenue) built in 1932. Within the Old Town Historic District boundaries, two properties have been listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places: Reid School (129 NW Idaho Avenue), built in 1914, and Trinity Episcopal Church (469 NW Wall Street), built in 1929.

The Old Town Historic District encompasses twenty-six full city blocks and parts of thirteen partial blocks. Three hundred and fifty-four properties have a historic residential use, with thirteen categorized as duplexes and five as apartment complexes. Seven properties have a historic commercial use while only one has a meeting hall use. Five churches were historically located in the surrounding neighborhood, two of which have been converted to other uses.

Significance

The Old Town Historic District is an intact neighborhood of early 20th century homes and supporting structures, constructed mainly to house the workers of the Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Mills. The period of historic significance for the Old Town Historic District is 1910 to 1950, a period which brought about the establishment and main growth of the area as a working class neighborhood for lumber mill employees. Over 76% of the homes within the district were constructed in the Craftsman style symbolizing the popularity of the style, not only nationally, but in Bend, Oregon as well. As such, the Old Town Historic District is significant for its well-executed and high concentration of Craftsman style homes. The district is also significant for its associations to the events that established the industrial development and growth of Bend, Oregon in the early part of the twentieth century.

Initial Development and the Founding of Bend: 1877 to 1915

Covered wagon trains had been pouring into the Willamette Valley for a quarter of a century before the first permanent Euro-American settlers came into the Central Oregon region in great numbers. Many of these early settlers where cattle and sheep ranchers looking for a fertile place to graze their stock. In 1877 the first recorded permanent settlers (Cort Allen and William Staats) arrived into what would latter become Deschutes County. Staats would later play a major role in the development of the area within the historic district.

Settlement of the Central Oregon region in large numbers however, didn't occur for another twenty-five years. By 1900, the population of the Bend precinct in Crook County, an area of about 18x40 square miles, equaled only twenty-one people. That figure, however, would grow to 536 by 1910.

Spurred on by the Carey Act of 1894 and the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 and 1911, settlers and investors slowly began to visualize the possibilities of Central Oregon. One of the most profitable and forward thinking investors was Alexander M. Drake. A Minnesota capitalist, Drake nurtured the philosophy of development and reportedly was searching for his last big project before his retirement. After viewing the Deschutes River, the large stands of timber, and the thousands of acres of arid land, Drake set about laying the foundations of his last ambitious enterprise.

Drake knew about the Carey Act and its provisions for irrigation. Under the terms of the Act, the State stood to gain thousands of taxable acres, and Drake stood to gain a large wealth from selling water rights and parcels of land. In 1901 Drake formed the Pilot Butte Development Company to construct a canal system and then plated the town of Bend. By 1904, only 40 acres had been irrigated, but Drake had apparently had made his fortune from selling land and sold his irrigation rights to a competing company, the Deschutes Irrigation and Power Company. He and his wife, Florence, then left Bend and retired to Pasadena, California. Prior to his departure, however, the new town of Bend had been firmly established and by 1903, with two hundred and fifty residents, the building of a town had begun. On Monday December 19, 1904, 101 voters agreed that they needed a central government with a mayor, city councilmen, and a policeman. In January 1905, the City of Bend became officially incorporated. Bend's first mayor was A.J. Goodwille, the son of a Wausau, Wisconsin lumber manufacturer and the vice-president of the Central Oregon Bank. He had been elected eighty-six to twenty-eight.

Slow to start, development of Bend occurred rapidly once the canal system was operational. Hotels, general stores, saloons, and real estate offices seemed to appear overnight. Investors from Seattle, Portland, Spokane, and as far away as Omaha, Nebraska began purchasing property. Over a ten-day period in 1909, the Hunter & Staats Realty Company reportedly sold over 50 lots in Deschutes Addition, selling thirteen to one person alone. A typical residential lot sold from $250 to $500, while commercial lot prices went up to $1,000 each. In 1910, a 160-acre homestead site three quarters of a mile south of Bend sold for $17,500.

The steady increase in prices was most likely spurred by land speculation. Among the new investors was the D.E. Hunter Realty Company of Dayton, Ohio who sent a representative to Bend in 1910 to purchase city lots. That year the company bought the Drake Homestead property, comprising all of Block 4 in the original plat of Bend, for $30,000, equivalent to $750,000 in today's dollar. Reports of the coming of a railroad spurred on even more new development and land speculation. Some investors set out plans to create new towns next to the proposed rail line. For example, when residents north of Bend were told a railroad terminal would be built in their area they immediately platted the town of Lytle, naming it after the bearer of good news, Mr. Lytle, an official of the Columbia Southern Railroad. Meanwhile F.S. Stanley, President of the Deschutes Irrigation and Power Co., hoped that one of his new towns, Deschutes or Redmond, would be the end terminus for the rail line.

When electrical lights were turned on in downtown Bend in 1910, the residents and businessmen were overjoyed. Within days people were entering into contracts to electrify their businesses and homes. Yet despite the arrival of electricity, industrial development during the early part of the twentieth century was relatively slow. The only true factory operations were several small lumber mills along the Deschutes River and a flour mill.

Eventually the arrival of the railroad in 1911 changed the future of the city and set the stage for large-scale economic development. In October of that year, when the railroad tracks finally reached Bend, over 2,000 people gathered at the new depot for the driving of the "Golden Spike" by James J. Hill. A two-day celebration followed which included water sports, bucking contests, horse racing, foot races, a baby show, a parade, and dancing.

For most people, the arrival of the train was a decidedly happy ending to the frontier life. It did mark the beginning of an economic prosperity for the city and for the railroad companies, it marked a long and expensive investment in the future of Central Oregon.

The Arrival and Establishment of the Timber Industry: 1915-1922

As promised, the arrival of the railroad brought more investment into the area. The most significant was the establishment of the timber industry, which could not operate sufficiently without a railroad line. The timber industry in Deschutes County began on a large scale in 1915 when Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Company announced that they would be building a sawmill west of the Deschutes River and that they would employ 500 men as soon as the mill was completed in 1916. A week later the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company announced that they too were also going to build a mill and that they would be hiring 500 men as well. With the two announcements the fate of Bend was sealed, and the town would remain on the map. The citizens of Bend were so excited they held an impromptu parade immediately upon hearing the news.

The selection of Bend as the location of the mills was not something that happened overnight. There had been much long-range planning behind the scenes. As far back as 1898, M.J. Scanlon of Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company, had visited the region and began acquiring and consolidating huge stands of timber for logging purposes. By the time the announcement did come, both companies owned thousands of acres of timber-rich lands surrounding the City of Bend. The Shevlin-Hixon Company alone had more than two-hundred thousand acres of land. Thomas McCann, General Manager of the Shevlin-Hixon Mill, reported that his company had enough timber holdings to insure the operation of their plant for at least 30 years. The timber stands at the time were reportedly the largest stands of ponderosa pine in the world, with over 50 million board feet available. Other advanced planning included a design for a logging pond. The survey for a such a pond was made back in 1907, when the Central Oregon Development Company had made its initial review of the area. The pond, once constructed, would hold five million board feet of lumber and cover 265 acres.

Hearing the official news about the coming of the mills, workers flocked to Bend by the thousands looking for jobs. Hundreds of tents went up beside the canals, along the Deschutes River, and on the Staats's property just south of downtown within the area of the Old Town Historic District. So many people were moving into the area, that in 1916 Bend claimed to have the fastest increase in population of any place in the nation. By March 1916 both mills were fully operational and together over 750,000 board feet of lumber was being cut a day. Bend's population grew a whopping 910% between 1910 and 1920. Somewhat quiet for a few years, the population soared again when in 1923; both companies added modern equipment and expanded their production. By 1925, the two mills together shipped over 13,500 carloads of lumber per year and had a total payroll of over three million dollars.

With the arrival of the railroad and the construction of the lumber mills, real estate companies began to promote the Central Oregon region heavily. The Bend Park Company, who had headquarters in Seattle, Washington published numerous brochures and flyers about the great wealth to be found in Bend. They claimed that they owned all of the high-class residential property, while the Bend Company owned all of the actual business lots. Advertisements touted that nothing could prevent "Bend from becoming the second city of Oregon because she is the natural railroad center and metropolis of Eastern Oregon."

Many comparisons for the future of the town were made to Spokane, Washington. As we know today, those comparisons were quite grand. The city did boom, however, in anticipation of the investment that would soon follow the lumber mills. Twenty-five different subdivisions were platted in Deschutes County between 1911 and 1915. Among them were four of the five plats found within the Old Town Historic District.

The Plats

The earliest plat within the Old Town Historic District is Deschutes Addition. It was originally platted as a townsite in 1902 by one of Bend's earliest residents William H. Staats. Staats had hired civil engineer John D. Newsom to survey what was intended to be a separate town and lay out the traditional grid street system with 50'x100' lots. Staats, like many other early developers, had hoped that his town would become the center of commerce. By 1905, however, when Bend became incorporated, Staats had given up in his fight for the center of commerce and shifted his efforts to Deschutes Addition becoming a residential neighborhood of Bend. As early as 1911, Staats formed a partnership with J.N. Hunter and together they established the real estate firm of Hunter & Staats. The firm promoted the plat of Deschutes Addition heavily and noted it as "the most beautiful residential section in Bend with the most reasonable prices." By May 1911, they reported that they had the streets cleared of rocks and had a smooth trail for vehicles. Some wood planked sidewalks had even been laid. Development of the neighborhood was slow however, and just a handful of lots were sold and built upon prior to 1915.

Competing for sales was the upscale Park Addition, platted in May 1910. It was located just southwest of the downtown plat and adjacent to Deschutes Addition. Bend's founder, A.M. Drake, and his Pilot Butte Development Company, hired local engineer Robert B. Gould to lay out the subdivision with a series of curving streets, wide boulevards and spectacular views of the river and mountains.

In 1911 Drake sold his controlling interest in the Pilot Butte Development Company, which included Park Addition to a newly formed company, The Bend Company. Stockholders of the new company included the D.E. Hunter Realty Company of Dayton, Ohio who already had extensive holds in Bend; the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company, of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ed C. Muller of the Christian-Muller Lumber Company of Davenport, Iowa; and local businessmen J.M. Lawrence, Franklin Griffith and Clyde McKay. The capitol investment stock of the company was three hundred and sixty thousand dollars.

One of the first projects undertaken by the newly formed company was to plat Larch Addition in August of 1913. The plat was located at the southeastern tip of Park Addition and continued the geometric grid and street pattern of the eastern end of Park Addition. The small addition was just two blocks and encompassed only twenty lots. By this time Clyde McKay had become Vice-President of The Bend Company and John P. Keyes, who was Vice-President of Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company, was the elected as the acting Secretary. McKay hired local engineer, George S. Young, to lay out the simple plat for the subdivision.

Recognizing the profits to be made in the growing town, William H. Staats and his partner, J.N. Hunter, developed Staats Addition in October 1915. The lots quickly sold and within a year houses were being built on the 136-lot subdivision. To spur the development of the neighborhood further, Hunter & Staats had several homes constructed as rentals. The Bend Construction Company purchased each lot on both sides of Delaware Avenue, eighty lots total, and began building homes, some of the first in the neighborhood.

Business was good for The Bend Company and by March 31, 1916 the firm had sold 41 percent of Park Addition. The $100 to $250 lots in Park Addition sold for 1/3 down and two installments over a year. With the construction of the two lumber mills (Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon) and the large flood of people that followed, the company continued to acquire land and platted several other additions including the small subdivision of Hastings Addition in March 1916. The new subdivision filled in a small gap between the existing plat of Staats Addition to the west, the railroad tracks to the east, and the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Mill to the south. Local engineer, Robert B. Gould, who would later become engineer for the City of Bend, laid out the plat.

Further Development and Growth: 1923-1940

Due to the influx of people coming to work at the lumber mills, Bend had a severe housing shortage by 1923. New families arriving daily, were looking for houses to rent without success. All of the apartment houses were full, and the local hotels were booked solid each night. The shortage was so noticeable that one house advertised for rent in The Bend Bulletin, reportedly received 22 inquires in one day alone. As a result many families began to take on boarders, renting out rooms and building small dwellings to the rear of their main homes. Typical of the period is Hans and Martha Slagsvold (419 NW Delaware Avenue) who rented out rooms to two different individuals; John Solum a laborer at Shevlin-Hixon, and Frank Rood a laborer at Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company. Hans Slagsvold was the yard foreman for Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company and most likely did not need the extra income, but was instead offering a room to the needy. The housing shortage also prompted new investment, and between 1916 and 1924, thirty-two subdivisions were platted in Deschutes County. They included tracts in Bend, Redmond and Sisters. By 1925, the building dollar investment in Bend had reached its highest point up to that date.

During the 1920s, developers began to create entire blocks and neighborhoods of similarly designed houses. It was during this second boom that hundreds of Craftsman Bungalows and many homes within the Old Town Historic District were built. Ninety-four homes were built in the district between 1923 and 1926, almost 29% of the total district structures. It was also during this second building boom that many apartment buildings and duplexes were built. In the district they included the Bracken Apartments (532-536 NW Sisemore Street), the Dyer Duplex (334-338 NW Hill Street), the Winslow Apartments (Hill Street and Delaware Avenue), and the Noonchester Apartments (Harriman Street and Florida Avenue).

Commercial development saw growth as well. Investment during the period was so high that by 1923 the Western Building & Loan Company reported that they alone had more than a quarter of a million dollars loaned on 152 different buildings in Bend. That same year, J.A. Bastes, a local representative for the Pacific Building & Loan Association, reported that more money was being loaned in Bend than in any other town in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. In the area of the Old Town Historic District, businessmen built corner grocery stores such as the Delaware Market (845 NW Delaware Avenue), and the Delaware Annex (635 NW Delaware Avenue).

In June 1923, local architects and contractors estimated the cost of work for just a month was $110,000. Back in March, the single day record for the issuance of building permits had been broken. Seven permits had been taken out, totaling in value of $32,600. Even today this large building boom is reflective in the number of buildings remaining in the county from this time period. Local architect Hugh Thompson, reported that the increased building activity was due to an increase in payroll from the sawmills and the growing population. He noted that all of the commercial buildings under construction at the time were already leased.

With the increase in commercial development and building activity, the desire for modern services also increased. Water connections in 1920 were only 1,426, but by 1924 they almost doubled to 2,237. Telephone connections grew as well. In 1920, six hundred and sixty-five people had service. Four years later the number had nearly doubled. During this time newspapers from around the State couldn't help but proclaim Central Oregon's prosperous development. The Oregon Journal ran a full cover spread in May 1925 issue that read "Bend Enters Second Development Era." Building activity in April 1925, reached 89 permits valuing $94,180.

During the depression era of the 1930s, construction activity began to slow down. However, by 1930, over 80% of the lots within the Old Town Historic District had been developed. In 1932, the number of permits issued in Bend hit an all time low of 23 and the boom had apparently reached a stopping point. Within the district, only two buildings were constructed between 1931 and 1934. The situation didn't last long however and building began to pick up by 1935. In 1936 building activity reached its greatest point since 1932, with $105,847 dollars invested.

The increase came about as a result of federal programs revolving around Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, which offered financial assistant in the construction of public buildings and facilities. In Deschutes County, armories, hospitals, airport facilities and government offices were being built. By 1939 building permits had aggregated $319, 730, the highest number since 1926. Residential construction was still slow, however, and between 1935 and 1940, only three structures were built within the district. All were homes, built in the Colonial Revival style, for middle and upper management of the lumber mills. As these individuals moved up the corporate ladder they could afford larger and more modern homes. All three employees actually moved within the confines of the district to newer homes. Typical is Almon Curtis who lived in a modest dwelling on Colorado Avenue (519 NW Colorado Avenue) for over twenty years. After being promoted to department foreman for Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company in 1940, Almon moved his family into a new modern home at 441 NW Florida Avenue.

The War and Post War Era: 1941-1950

By the start of the World War II, the manufacturing operations of Shevlin-Hixon and Brooks-Scanlon had a combined capacity of 700 million board feet per eight-hour shift. Production, spurred on by the war, was at an all-time high. Once the war ended though, the need for lumber in great quantities diminished and cut rates dropped dramatically. The demand for rough-cut lumber was low and the mills began to manufacture the timber to a higher degree before shipping. Timber was now being cut for specific uses, such as moldings, siding, and box planking. Shevlin-Hixon converted 31% of its cutting into the manufacture of boxes, while Brooks-Scanlon converted just 10% of their business operations to the manufacture of boxes. Despite the shift, business slowed down drastically for both of the mills. Compared to the 1929 peak, both plants were only operating at a 60% capacity and drastic measures were sought. Directors of the mills came to a mutual decision that it would be most advantageous to harvest timber under one operation and after some negotiations, Brooks-Scanlon purchased the Shevlin-Hixon Company and all of its holdings in 1950.

The Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Company officially sawed its last log on December 26, 1950. At the controls when the last log went through was John Mahoney, longtime resident of the Old Town Historic District, and coincidentally, the man at the controls when the first log went though the mill in 1916.

Prior to the mill closure, people were still moving into Central Oregon. By 1941 the population of the county had reached almost 22,000 people. Industries included several small wood manufacturing plants, a furniture factory, the iron works, and a pumice production plant. Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, a shift in the economy from a timber base, to a tourism base was slowly beginning to occur.

Due to the war, residential development almost came to a halt. In 1941, only one new plat was filed in the county and only 159 building permits had been issued in Bend for the entire year. One of the reasons for the decline was that the Federal Government had issued a conservation plan restricting building activity. Citizens were only allowed to build or remodel a building in town if the cost was under $500. As a result by 1944, building activity was almost to stand still with only 35 permits issued in Bend for a valuation of a little over $35,000. Within the Old Town Historic District, between 1942 and 1945, only one home was constructed.

Once World War II ended, things changed and residential development began to occur again. Between 1946 and 1950, in just four short years, fourteen different plats were filed within the county and by 1947, the million-dollar building investment mark had been broken for the first time. In that year, 404 permits had been issued in Bend alone. The boom was spurred on the Better Housing Program, a plan put forth by the Federal Housing Administration.

Made possible by the National Housing Act, the plan offered funding to families at low interest rates. Anyone could take advantage of the program as long as they had a good credit record, regular income, and owned a lot that was free and clear of debt or equal to 20% of the appraised value of the property. Hundreds of families took advantage of the program. In Bend, entire neighborhoods were created around the loan program and by the end of the 1940s seventy-five percent of Deschutes County's residents owned their own homes. Within the Old Town Historic District five properties were built, including the Carl Rasmussen House, an unusual concrete block structure on Franklin Avenue.

Commerce and urban development were also restricted during wartime, but once the war was over, prosperity returned. In Bend the construction of numerous gas stations, warehouses, and industrial complexes occurred, and tourist related buildings began to dot the landscape. Within the district, a neighborhood gas station and a convenience store was built at the end of Delaware Avenue (now demolished).

After the war, the educational needs of the returning GIs and their families was apparent. The Bend, Redmond and Sisters school districts all expanded their facilities. In Bend, Marshall School, Yew School, and Thompson School (located in the district) were built. Thompson School, typical of the period, is constructed in a modern style with concrete block exterior walls, hopper style windows and simple exterior decoration.

Summary

The Old Town Historic District is an admirable and accurate reflection of the City of Bend's history from 1910 to 1950. Its development directly follows the boom and bust cycle of many towns across the Pacific Northwest. Taken as a whole, the Old Town Historic District retains sufficient integrity in construction, spatial relationship, use, materials and workmanship to accurately reflect its role as a working class neighborhood from the early 20th century. From the neighborhood, residents could walk to work, walk to church or walk to the downtown area for shopping; and children could walk to the two schools in the neighborhood. Viewed as a cohesive neighborhood, the Old Town Historic District effectively conveys the historic and cultural associations that make it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, as well as due to the high concentration of mill worker housing (over 80% of the homes are affiliated with lumber mill employees from Shevlin-Hixon, Brooks-Scanlon or both), and due to the district's unusually high concentration of Craftsman style Bungalows and their high artistic value.

References

Aladdin "Built in a Day" Catalog, 1917; The Aladdin Co., New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc.: 1995.

Building Deschutes County; An Architectural History 1813-1950. Deschutes County Preservation Planning Office, Unpublished Context Statement. 1997.

Clark, Rosalind. Oregon Style; Architecture from 1840 to the 1950s. Portland, OR: Professional Book Center: 1983.

Classic Houses of the Twenties; Loizeaux. New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc.: 1992.

Duchscherer, Paul and Douglas Keister. Inside the Bungalow; America's Arts & Crafts Interior. New York, N.Y.: The Penguin Group: 1997.

Fenner Plan Book of Factory Cut Homes. Portland, OR: No date, circa 1925.

Gowans, Alan. The Comfortable House; North American Suburban Architecture 1890-1930. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press: 1987.

Lancaster, Clay. The American Bungalow; 1880-1930. New York, N.Y.: Dover Publications Inc.: 1985.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf: 1992.

Plans of Modern Homes: Chicago Millwork Supply Company. Chicago, IL: No date.

Polk Directories. Deschutes County : 1924, 1938, 1940, 1942, 1946-47, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1959, 1962, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1988.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Sanborn, LA: 1917, 1920, 1928, 1956.

Schweitzer, Robert and Michael W.R. Davis. America's Favorite Homes. Detroit: Wayne State University Press: 1990.

Stevenson, Katherine Cole and H. Ward Jandl. Houses By Mail; A Guide to Sears, Roebuck and Company. Washington, D.C.: The Preservation Press: 1986.

117 House Designs of the Twenties; Gordon-Van Tine Co., New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc.: 1992.

† Michael Houser, Associate Planne, Historic and Cultural Resources, Deschutes County Community Development Department, Old Town Historic District, Deschutes County, Bend, OR, nomination document, 2001, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Old Town Historic District Map

Street Names
Arizona Avenue NW • Bond Street NW • Broadway Street NW • Chamberlain Street NW • Colorado Avenue NW • Delware Avenue NW • Florida Avenue NW • Franklin Avenue NW • Georgia Avenue NW • Harriman Street NW • Hastings Place NW • Hill Street NW • Hunter Place NW • Idaho Avenue NW • Kansas Avenue NW • Lava Road NW • Park Place NW • Sisemore Street NW • Staats Street NW • Wall Street NW

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
Copyright © 1997-2016 • The Gombach Group • www.gombach.com • 215-295-6555 • 111266 • Privacy