Adaptive Reuse Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Portland History

Rejuvenating Estacada’s main street, one building at a time

The long-gone Hotel Estacada.
The long-gone Hotel Estacada.

Snuggled along the Clackamas River, you might know Estacada as the town where you stop in for supplies before heading out to the river or maybe as the home of the now defunct Safari Club that once showcased stuffed animals while diners enjoyed a meal or a cocktail.

Estacada is more than that, with a deep history going back over a century. It started out as a camp for dam builders, then a weekend destination for Portlanders who stayed at the (long gone) Hotel Estacada, shuttled there via trolley line (also long gone) from downtown Portland. The key word here though is: dam. In fact, there are four dams on the river near Estacada built by workers who have lived in Estacada at one time or the other (while earning the nickname “the dammedest town in Oregon,” according to an old diner’s matchbook).

Sure, it’s had its moments—some positive, others negative.

There’s been several decades where Estacada suffered from a negative perception challenge that it was a rough and tumble place on the outskirts of Clackamas County,” says Matt Lorenzen, Estacada’s Economic Development Manager. 

Downtown Estacada
Downtown Estacada

However, thanks to a strong economy and population growth in the greater Portland region, engaged city staff, a forward-thinking City Council, and tools like tax increment financing (urban renewal), downtown Estacada is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. Several downtown buildings have been recently rehabilitated and occupied by new businesses, including a dance studio, an outdoor outfitter, and a frozen yogurt shop, with help from local urban renewal grants. 

Most recently a Revitalization grant made available through the Oregon Main Street program—a division of the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)—will make possible the retrofit of the popular Broadway Building, built in 1938. 

“If you do a back-of-the-envelope pro forma on putting a quarter million dollars into this building, it makes no sense whatsoever,” says Lorenzen. “But with these public funds you can do some cool things to breathe new life into a building, and in our case, into a highly visible corner in a downtown that’s trying to come back to life.” 

Renderings for the Broadway Building renovation. Source.

The Broadway Building sits in a key location at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Broadway. In Estacada, Broadway is considered the “main” street, even though there’s an actual Main Street. It’s the first intersection visitors come to when exiting or entering downtown from Highway 224, and with the public art on the walls, it’s a highly visible building. 

Using historical photography, it was discovered that the building had a somewhat dubious addition to it in the 60s or 70s that Lorenzen describes as “very utilitarian,” and “at any rate its [architecture is] incompatible with downtown and with the corner that we’re revitalizing.”

The goal, he says, is multifaceted in that it will restore the facade of the building, taking a historically incongruent facade on Fourth Avenue and bringing it into alignment with the downtown and with the building that it’s attached to.

SUM DESIGN STUDIO + architecture, the team behind the design, came on board and agreed the Broadway Building was the more cost-sensitive in terms of not having to do a deep demolition and treated it as more of an addition project. 

“We looked at it from a storefront aspect,” says SUM’s Matt Loosemore.  “We’re doing an awning replacement, we’re taking off all of a failed stucco system, exposing the substructure, and then re-stuccoing the facade.” The goal, he says is to scale back the existing two facades by breaking up the canopy line, keeping them at a consistent height, and adding more glass into the center space. “That way, we’re actually gaining an additional retail space.” 

However, because grant dollars are through SHPO, they’re required to follow Oregon’s Secretary of Interior’s standards for revitalization or rehabilitation, compelling the team to respect the historic aesthetic of the building.

The building will have a bit more modern touch, using a steel canopy, with all new window systems. “You’ll be able to see the old character of the building, but at the same time, appreciate some of the newer amenities,” says Loosemore. 

The Broadway Building is just one project out of many helping to contribute to downtown Estacada’s revitalization. 

“There’s a bit of a demographic shift taking place and an economy shifting towards tourism and outdoor recreation,” says Lorenzen. “That shift doesn’t mean just razing old buildings and building new ones, but rather preserving and enhancing and doing it in a way that’s respectful to the past.” 

Oregon History

Rust, Rot, & Ruin: Stories of Oregon Ghost Towns

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“There’s no ghost town here. The internet lied to you.” 

That was the most memorable line—delivered by a wary local —of an epic road trip two summers ago. Some pals and I rented an RV and drove it across Eastern Oregon in search of ghost towns. Despite the ominous conversation and the rotten wood and rubble we could only find at the dusty spot (the dude was right, at least) we did end up finding ghost towns, or at least what remained of them on the rest of the journey. Fueled by beer, road food, lack of sleep and long stretches of driving on lonely roads, the trip was a success and it only solidified by own obsession with ghost towns. I’m not alone. 

“Ghost towns hold our fascination for a variety of reasons,” says Theresa E. Rea, MLIS, CA and archivist at Oregon State Archives. “There’s something simultaneously macabre and romantic about them that draws curiosity and intrigue. I can’t speak for others, but I think of ghost towns as unique time capsules. Many nameless souls at one time made their lives in these towns. The remnants allows us a small peek into the past and contemplate what secrets they hold.” 

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And, to celebrate these long lost towns, the Oregon State Archives are debuting a new exhibit:  “Rust, Rot, & Ruin: Stories of Oregon Ghost Towns.” 

Rea graciously offered to answer some of my questions about the exhibit as well as go a little deeper on what makes ghost towns so alluring. 

What’s the inspiration behind the exhibit?
Oregon has hundreds of abandoned settlements, mining camps, and company towns across the state, and the Archives want to exhibit the rich history of a choice few of these decrepit places. Each town is a unique story of dashed hopes and sundered dreams – each is a tombstone where a frontier community failed. These towns and the forces which slew them were tied to advances in science, industry, and transportation that changed the face of Oregon. In eulogizing these lost places, we will examine the historic factors which contributed to their rise and fall, the people who called them home, and what of their remains lie scattered across the state. 

OHD_#6449_Cornucopia City Hall.jpg

What should visitors expect?
Visitors will encounter stories of selected ghost towns sudden burgeon and demise. Portions use imagery to depict the “then” and “now” of some towns while other segments resurrect towns that have disappeared. Guests can learn about Oregon’s mining, lumber, transportation, federal projects, and tourism industries that informed a ghost town’s fate. Attendees can read about a remarkable 9 year old newspaper editor of a company town or how much a lumberjack ate to sustain their daily work. We are also displaying related artifacts, all on loan from the Oregon Historical Society and the Forest History Center.   

What makes Oregon’s ghost towns unique? 
I have read claims that Oregon has the most ghost towns in the whole county. Whether that is the case or not, I don’t dare to speculate, but ghost towns are woven into the fabric of Oregon’s robust history of industry, transportation, and tourism. Remember during much of this time period, Oregon was far from settled by Americans and other pioneers. Many of these towns drew individuals and families from all over the world, seeking their fortune. Those who remained helped populate the state and became an integral piece of Oregon’s history.


Why did some towns fail while others thrive?
Research reveals that many of these towns died as quickly as they sprung into existence. This can be due to many reasons. One primary reason which we encounter time and time again is resource exhaustion. Gold mining towns in particular are a great example of this. Many of these places were typically dependent on a single activity or resource, such as mines, mills, or resorts. Crossroads towns are also fascinating because their economic importance was reliant solely upon the railroad. Revitalization or preservation of a ghost town can be seen through the efforts of a citizens invested in keeping history alive. 

Oregon State Archives Annual Open House and the debut of Rust, Rot, & Ruin: Stories of Oregon Ghost Towns will be on Saturday October 26; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The exhibit runs from Fall 2019-Spring 2020. 

Oregon Real Estate

House Hunt: Old Canby Schoolhouse

House Hunt is the occasional post on cool (mostly historic) homes and commercial spaces for sale across Oregon. And no, I’m not a Realtor. 

Is it practical? Not really? More than one bedroom? Nope. More than one bath? Negative. Lots of space? It’s 960 square feet.

But, whoa, it’s pretty cool.

Built in 1875, everything has been replaced – new roof, siding, windows, mini-split, additional garage, insulation and “a period-appropriate interior remodel.”



image-asset (1)

Here’s the Redfin listing.

Oregon History Portland History

Haunted houses and ghosts in Portland

Once upon a time I wrote for Neighborhood Notes, a cool neighborhood, community-focused digital publication based in Portland. The now-defunct site went offline a couple of years ago but the editors have graciously let me repost a couple of the posts I wrote. Sure, the info is more than 10 years old. I’ve done my best to update posts but have pretty much left them untouched.

Hauntings are nothing new – Oregonian article from 1911.

When it comes to the paranormal there are three camps: the hardcore believers, the non-believers and those that are somewhere in the middle. You either believe the squeaking floor you hear at night as you lay in bed is the ghost of the previous tenant hacked to pieces by his wife in the 1930s taking a midnight stroll in your living room. Or, if you’re a non-believer, you’re thinking that you probably need to replace the decaying floor joists and flooring from the 1800s. 

And the somewhere-in-the-middle crowd? You’re thinking it’s probably the cat playing with a toy, at least that’s what you keep telling yourself. But you’re definitely not getting out of bed to check out what the odd noise is as you pull the covers over your head.

Portland has a fascinating past and history. And amidst the famous coin flip, the platting of streets, the growth of the city along the Willamette, the stumps of trees scattered around town, and two World Wars, people did horrible things to each other, like murder, while others died mysteriously or tragically.

Some of the victims just aren’t ready to move on.

Old Town Pizza
Our most famous ghost is probably Nina (pronounced Nye-nah) who has made Old Town Pizza her home for decades. The pizzeria is situated in a ghostly ground zero, sitting in the original lobby of the Merchant Hotel with the infamous Shanghai tunnels underneath—which are also purportedly haunted.

Adam Milne, owner of Old Town Pizza, says Nina, who was a prostitute, has made many appearances over the years since her untimely ending more than 100 years ago. “Supposedly she turned in some of Portland’s more notorious underworld types and was pushed down the elevator shaft and now haunts the restaurant. She’s been seen by various customers and employees.”

She makes appearances throughout the restaurant. “I had one manager who saw an old lady in a dress in the restaurant before we opened and walked down to the basement. He went and chased after her only to find no one was there.” Another instance involved the janitor. As recent as last week, the employee—who doesn’t believe in ghosts—said he felt someone grab his arm. “It creeped him out,” says Milne.

Nina’s name is carved into a brick in the elevator shaft. Legend has it that she carved it herself. She usually wears a dress and hangs out on the second floor. Milne says he’s never seen Nina, but he’s always looking for her.

If you want to get the lowdown on resident ghosts like Nina and visit their haunts, Portland Walking Tours’ Beyond Bizarre, which is part ghost-hunt, part history and part ghost stories, is a good start. Armed with various tools of the ghost-hunting trade, such as K2 meters, EMF meters, and recording devices, participants explore different buildings around town, including Old Town Pizza, with some interesting results.

“I’ve seen pictures taken on the tour that are questionable. I’ve seen orb photos that are definitely not dust,” says Portland Walking Tours owner David Schargel.

SW Stark Street (SW Harvey Milk Street)
Downtown Portland is rife with hauntings and ghosts if you know where to look: well-known restaurants, old flophouses, a gas station and even a former police station.

And then there are whole blocks that have a history of weird events. Many “hauntings” have taken place from 2nd Avenue down to the waterfront right along a meridian line that is Stark Street. “There’s some weird activity there that usually gets picked up by meters or through photographs that’s unusual,” says Schargel.

The reason for this is usually attributed to the Stark Street Ferry. Back before we had bridges connecting the east to the west side, Portlanders relied on the Stark Street Ferry to get to each side for errands or for business. Or for funerals. A good portion of Portland’s cemeteries are on the eastside such as the wonderful Lone Fir Cemetery, the city’s oldest cemetery, and the ferry was used to transport bodies—along with funeral marches—across the Willamette. Could this be why many ghost hunters get some meter action or photos with “weird floaty-shapes” near Stark Street?

Morrison Bridge, Portland, Oregon
The Morrison Bridge was most likely used to transport the deceased to their final resting place as the ferry became obsolete.

Hoodoo Antiques
Another famous Portland haunt is Hoodoo Antiques, and it’s a good example of an “object” haunting. “You may have heard stories of pianos playing themselves or wedding rings that are haunted, well Hoodoo Antiques actually has a haunted object that’s been documented in police reports. That lends some legitimacy to it,” says Schargel.

Well-known paranormal expert Jeff Davis, author of Portland’s Rose City Ghosts and co-author of Weird Oregon, says the haunted object in question at Hoodoo is a 19th century pen and ink drawing of a woman with a lace head scarf that the owner received as a present from his mother-in-law.

“She had had a small workshop in what is now Barracuda (now closed) which was once originally Erikson’s Saloon and had found the drawing hidden in the floorboards and gave it to the antique store,” says Davis.

On several occasions, particularly New Year’s, the burglar alarm—which is motion sensored—has gone off and people have reported seeing a woman standing in the back of the shop either wearing a laced hat or some kind of lace around her hair. “Objects from the antique store have gone missing for a couple of weeks—which you kind of expect in an antique store. But then these same missing objects will reappear in a very common obvious place as if by magic weeks later,” says Davis.

Benson Hotel
The Benson opened in 1913 at Southwest Broadway and Oak, as the New Oregon Hotel, an “annex” to the Oregon Hotel next door: Heavy doorknobs engraved “OH” can still be found in the hotel, harkening back to its gala grand opening. The Benson was equipped with the latest innovations of the day, including automatic door switches and circulating ice water. The ceilings were covered with plaster molds, and the closets in the guest rooms were equipped with electric lights. Guests of the hotel were greeted each morning with a complimentary cup of hot clam nectar, a tradition eventually usurped by coffee.

While management doesn’t officially endorse ghost stories, they’ve had guests tell them of “friendly experiences.” There are three known hauntings. The first is the lobby area staircase leading up to the mezzanine where guests have seen a ghostly man walking down the grand staircase. Another ghost hangs out on the ninth floor and is well documented on sites such as Yelp, while the third is in a downstairs meeting room in one of the restaurants. There’s also a story that a spirit helped a slightly disabled guest into bed one night. “The guest thought the ghost was the night porter. How’s that for service?” asks Davis.

White Eagle Saloon
If there’s on old hotel, in any city in the U.S., there’s probably some sort of urban legend assigned to it. But the haunting at the White Eagle, built in 1905, has some basis in fact and is attributed to an actual person: Sam Warrick. Sam can be seen on historical pictures that grace the wall of The White Eagle from the early 1900s and was a cook and a bartender at the bar. “And here’s where separating the legend from the facts gets a little more difficult,” says Davis. Sam was supposedly one of the last tenants on the second floor which was set up as a rooming house or inexpensive boarding house. Toward the end of WWII, the structure was getting run down and building codes were changing that prohibited living quarters above bars. Sam supposedly died in his room before he was evicted, or he found a place to live but died before he had a chance to move out.

White Eagle Saloon
White Eagle Saloon

Sam supposedly haunts the second floor and the main floor, though his ghost isn’t seen a lot—apparitions are pretty rare, says Davis. Sam does seem to be bit of a prankster though. “A cook in the kitchen once reported a huge container of mustard flew off the shelf so hard that it bounced off the opposite wall and then hit the floor with such force that it fell a couple of feet,” Davis says. 

Heathman Hotel
Built in 1927 and located in the heart of Portland, this 150-room luxury hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It’s also got some ghostly goods. One popular story takes place in room 703. For years guests have reported mysterious incidents. They check into a freshly cleaned room, and after leaving for a few hours, come back to find a glass of water on the desk. In the old days, if a glass moved on its own during a guest’s absence, a bell person could easily be blamed. Nowadays, every entrance is tracked with an electronic key record, so no one has been in the room since the guest first left.


Rooms 303 to 1003 also have strange and unexplained stories. According to the hotel, a well-known psychic visited in 1999 and claimed to see a ghost at the end of her bed with the conclusion that hauntings have all taken place in the column of rooms between 303 and 1003. The psychic’s theory? Someone once jumped to their death and cursed the rooms they passed on the way down.

Hollywood and Bagdad Theaters
What is it about theaters and hauntings? They seem to go hand in hand, and apparently the Hollywood Theater is home to (at least) a couple of ghosts. Numerous sightings of a ghostly male figure have been made in the upstairs lobby, and upstairs in the right theater a female ghost reportedly sits in one of the back two rows. Meanwhile, employees of the Bagdad Theater have reported lights dimming on their own and cold breezes originating from nowhere in particular.

Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery
This functioning, well-kept cemetery is a treasure trove of local history—some of Portland’s most famous residents are buried here. However, it wasn’t always taken care of, according to the Friends of Lone Fir: 

No money was set aside for perpetual care and the cemetery gradually fell into disrepair. By 1928 it was covered with blackberry mounds and there were 10,000 unknown graves. Prior to the 1870s, there were few stone markers and the wooden ones had rotted or were destroyed in one of several fires in the cemetery.

With thousands of bodies buried here, there are some chances for good stories, right? By day, it’s a fascinating stroll through Portland’s past and by night, like any cemetery, it can be a bit spooky though Davis says the space isn’t monitored for paranormal activity. Each year the Friends put on a fun Halloween tour, Untimely Departures, and offer tours year round.


Other Ghostly Gatherings
There always seems to be a theme to hauntings—the spirits usually died a tragic death, were involved in a romance gone bad or were involved in some unscrupulous activity. Here are some of Portland’s most well-known hauntings.

Downtown Burger King
The long-gone Burger King on Burnside had numerous stories of it being haunted by an unknown entity. What happens to resident ghosts when their home is demolished? Shudder to think.

Jantzen Beach Carousel
Rumor has is that the carousel has ghost children that lurk in the middle. And we all know that child ghosts are the worst—and creepiest—kind.

Hayden Island
The island, which has been in the news a lot lately over the CRC controversy, once housed Lotus Isle, a long-lost amusement park on the eastside. In 1930 a young boy died from a fall on the roller coaster, the owner committed suicide the next day and a year later the park’s ballroom burned down. If it’s not haunted, it should be.

Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Portland History

Local Screens: Neighborhood theaters offer movies…with history

Once upon a time I wrote for Neighborhood Notes, a cool neighborhood, community-focused digital publication based in Portland. The now-defunct site went offline a couple of years ago but the editors have graciously let me repost a couple of the posts I wrote. Sure, the info is more than 10 years old. I’ve done my best to update posts but have pretty much left them untouched.

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If this same article on historic movie theaters in Portland was written a mere 20 years ago, it would have been a completely different piece. Many smaller theaters thriving at the dawn of the 1990s closed, converted or were simply bulldozed. With the proliferation of mega-mall theaters, these family owned theaters, like many small, mom-and-pop shops, are dropping like flies.

In Portland, we’re lucky to have a solid core of neighborhood theaters that cater to families, film buffs, beer drinkers and the occasional moviegoer. Many, once beyond disrepair, screening porn or used as nameless storefronts, have risen from near-death and have even helped spark the revitalization of neighborhoods. Historical preservation meets beer, pizza and movies?  That’s a win-win. Here’s a roundup of theaters to grab a cold one and enjoy a film.

Laurelhurst Theater
The Laurelhurst owners have managed to keep the cool, indy vibe to the theater while adding more comfortable space and more screens, meaning you get to choose from a healthy mix of, say, a recent-run flick, ’40s noir, ’70s slasher or kid’s movie—all on the same day if you wish. (Update: They went first-run in 2018.) 

Drinks: Beer on tap, wine, soda, water
Food: Pizza and snacks
Cool fact: The ginormous, beautiful, jaw-dropping neon sign.

Bagdad Theater & Pub
Do you remember the first time you took a sip of a cold beer in a movie theater (no, that can of smuggled in, lukewarm Milwaukee’s Best doesn’t count) and thought “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Wonderful Middle East-inspired architecture inside and out, the Bagdad was built in the 1920s by Universal, is run by the McMenamin empire, shows mostly films but also hosts events. 

Drinks: McMenamin’s beer (duh) on tap, wine, soda, water
Food: Pizza, snacks
Cool fact: Purportedly haunted by numerous ghosts from different eras.

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Cinema 21
I will never forget the stunned silence of a packed house when the end credits rolled for The Battle of Algiers when it screened at Cinema 21 a few years ago. Showcasing a healthy selection of independent, foreign, classics and repeated screenings of cult-favorite, The Room, Cinema 21 last year began selling beer and wine on premise. 

Drinks: Beer on tap, wine, soda, water
Food: Standard, popcorn, candy
Cool fact: Originally called the State Theater in the 1920s when it was built, its sign boasts a small—but very charming—neon display.

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Academy Theater
The story is familiar: theater gets built, gets remodeled, stops showing films, turns into a grindhouse, then gets leveled. The Academy Theater, built in the late 1940s, has gone through a wonderful metamorphosis since falling into disrepair while avoiding the wrecking ball. And not only does it show films, it’s helped grow a community. And this being Portland, the theater offers babysitting while parents can nosh on pizza and sip a beer. Top THAT, Regal. 

Drinks: Beer on tap, wine, water, soda
Food: Flying Pie Pizza, healthy alternatives such as fruit, salads and sushi
Cool fact: The renovation painstakingly re-created the metallic two-story dome and 1940s-style round lobby.

Roseway Theater
Like the Academy, the Roseway had seen better days until it was completely renovated a couple years ago. Built in 1925 with seating for 600, and like many theaters after the advent of TV, it had its space reduced and was on a slow downward spiral of its life. It has been lovingly restored, its wonderful neon rose on the marque is a neighborhood highlight, and it still has that cool vintage feel but the new space also offers digital picture and sound system, letting the theater screen movies in 3D. 

Drinks: water, soda, coffee
Food: Standard, popcorn, candy
Cool fact: Clayton “The Lone Ranger” Moore (ask your parents) celebrated his 71st birthday at the Roseway in 1985.


Hollywood Theatre
Probably the most well-known and ornate theater in Portland, and thanks to the unrelenting efforts of owners and volunteers, the old palace has managed to turn the corner, stay in shape and keep running. Built in 1926, and according to the Oregon Historical Society, designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the Hollywood was at the time it was built, one of the largest theaters in Oregon. Showcasing independent films as well as local filmmakers, the theater also hosts events such as the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. It’s more than a movie theater, it’s a living historical monument as well as filmmaker incubator. 

Drinks: Soda, water
Food: Standard, popcorn, candy
Cool fact: Was once the exclusive Oregon home of Cinerama, a popular 1950s widescreen process.



Moreland Theater
This is another gem of a theater that has managed to stay intact, keep the original name and continue to screen first-run flicks. The theater featured live acts in the ’20s when it opened then switched to movies and hasn’t looked back. The ownership is wonderful and the place has a legit small-town vibe to it. Proof? One evening we bought tickets for a later show, grabbed a beer at a nearby bar, lost our tickets, came back, but were admitted anyway—since the employee who sold us the tickets remembered us. 

Drinks: Soda, water
Food: Standard, popcorn, candy
Cool fact: Once housed an organ to accompany silent films and acts.

This micro theater tucked between a couple of businesses on Hawthorne is easy to miss if you drive—or even bike—by it every day. But at night, Cinemagic puts on quite the neon show with a magnificent sign. Built in the teens, making it one of the older surviving theaters in Portland, Cinemagic has gone through many name changes through the years. It also has the reputation as having the most uncomfortable seats in town. Still, prices are cheap, the movies are usually almost first run and if you live nearby you can always quench your thirst at a couple of nearby bars. 

Drinks: Soda, water
Food: Standard, popcorn, candy
Cool fact: A great vantage point to admire the neon sign at night is across the street on a little concrete island next to the vintage shop. 


Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History

Retrofitting an old church into a brewery

It started with breakfast in Turner, Oregon.

Chad Casady recalls having breakfast with his wife, Melissa, and neighbors, throwing ideas back and forth, and the abandoned church around the corner came up in conversation. One of the ideas: turn the church into a taphouse.

After the paint job.  Source.
After the paint job. Source.

So, after breakfast that day, the Casadys and neighbors walked over to the church and found the front door wide opened. “We helped ourselves, took a tour of the place, and it was a disaster,” says Casady. “The inside was not well kept, the whole thing needed to be gutted, the foundation looked pretty bad. Posts and beams were rotten. It looked like it needed some TLC.”

Built in 1891, the 127-year-old church, near Salem, was obviously neglected and that’s when most people would’ve walked away. In fact, it’s seen numerous tenants during the previous decades, with the last tenant living in the basement.

Deconstruction on interior.  Source.
Deconstruction on interior. Source.

Casady, though, started the reconstruction process. At the beginning of 2015, he started research on the building, then researched construction costs associated with renovating it. He brought in an inspector, a foundation expert to take a look at the foundation and structure, and then a general contractor to map out what it was going to take. Then it was off to the City of Turner.

Pre-paint job.  Source.
Pre-paint job. Source.

The City was exceptionally helpful, says Casady, but a maybe bit cynical at first.  “When I came in, the city administrator said, “You know how many people have come in, just like you with some grand dream for this building?’ and I said, ‘I’m not in the business of dreaming, I’m business execution here, so if you want to help out, I’m interested in figuring out what it takes to get from step A to step B,’” says Casady.

From there, he continues to work with the city and county numerous times before putting in an offer. And then, even more research.

Demographics, speaking with local business owners about the market, the future of the city, and where they think the city is going. In fact, Turner is starting to see some changes, like a new community-based café that’s been successful. “It’s proving that the community is ready for something cooler than a mill,” says Casady.

So, how does someone like Casady, who has a background in tech (he’s VP of IT at Performance Health Technology in Salem) and no construction experience retrofit a hundred-plus-year-old building?

“I really didn’t understand how a lot of the systems worked, you know as far as like putting contracts together, getting approvals and stuff. I’ve never done a construction project. I was involved in building my own house, but not like this,” he says.

The key to success he believes is having a strong partner (Casady credits his wife Melissa as his true partner), hiring the right contractor, and if you can swing it, someone you know and trust. An old acquaintance, Ryan Records, of Records Construction has been his partner throughout the retrofit, as well as a team of solid subs to help guide the project.

More deconstruction.  Source.
More deconstruction. Source.

The end game, of course, is to have a community gathering place, serve some local beers (they’re installing a 32-tap system with local beers from Salem including Gilgamesh, Salem Ale Works, Vagabond, and Santiam) as well as other Oregon and west coast beers.

But it’s also a bit more. Casady wanted a taproom, called Angel’s Share Barrel House (“Angel’s share” is the portion of alcohol that’s lost to evaporation with aged spirits—”if you want tasty booze, you’ve got to pay the Angels their share,” Casady says), and a place to hang out, but also help build a stronger community. With his own money funding the retrofit he believes the taproom will be more than a beer place.

“To bring something back that has been sitting there for decades, and people have just complained about this building and no one was doing anything about it. This is such an important piece of history for the community and we need to do something with it,” he adds.

Ready for thirsty customers. Source.

Oregon History

May 5, 1945

I’m not usually a big fan of “this day in history” type posts, but it should be noted that on this day more than 60 years ago, the only civilian casualty on American soil of WWII happened right here in ol’ Oregon. According to the History Channel’s

In Lakeview, Oregon, Mrs. Elsie Mitchell and five neighborhood children are killed while attempting to drag a Japanese balloon out the woods. Unbeknownst to Mitchell and the children, the balloon was armed, and it exploded soon after they began tampering with it.

The town eventually went on to become a typical small town, from the looks of this 1960s card:

That ultra-modern building in the front left is a US Bank either a public library or post office – and it’s a real beauty. Click here for a huge, hi-res version on Vintage Roadside [and for many other fantastic roadside photos and postcards].

Here’s a current view of the downtown. Any Lakeview residents want to chime in?


Oregon small towns

Oregon: The ‘Small Town’ Capital Of the World. Cut. Print. New branding campaign. Feel free to use it, Oregon Tourism people.

Seriously, I love the fact that Oregon is lousy with small towns that haven’t changed much over the years. This summer we’re heading to Colorado, which will bring us through my favorite part of the state: the eastern side. I love the desert, the geography of it, the land, the small towns of the I-84 as you leave Oregon and travel into Idaho. Don’t get me started on the ghost towns.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. A little closer to home [Portland metro] is Tillamook. My introduction to Tillamook was second-hand stories from The Moneychangers and their nightmare gig there. Rock, roll and lots of booze no doubt.

I’m guessing the town doesn’t look much like this anymore:

And a close up of Dutch Mill Seafood and its glorious signage: