Martha Dayton of Lewisburg, formerly of Salem, recalls finding the tastiest hams in Oregon after she moved here in about 1971 from New York City. “I bought Nebergall hams from a meat market in West Salem, and they were absolutely A-1,” she recalled. “I put them in casseroles and baked them with red kidney beans with the bone in. “A memorable flavor,” Dayton said, “and it was so sad when I could no longer get them.” Download the complete article to continue (see below).
The quality of furniture constructed at a business in Albany that operated for nearly 100 years was so good that celebrities wanted to own the company’s rocking chairs, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Oregon Gov. Tom McCall, then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Download the complete article to continue (see below).
In Albany’s earlier days, downtown boasted a number of drug stores, but they all are gone now, having relocated to the city’s fringes.
By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member
The Linn County Courthouse has not always been where it is today at Fourth and Broadalbin nor has Albany always been the county seat.
In 1847, the provisional legislature picked Brownsville, then called Kirk’s Ferry, to be the city where the county would conduct its business. Much of that business was carried on in Spalding School or at Alexander Kirk’s house.
But by 1851, circuit-riding judges complained about having to travel that far to hold court so they petitioned the legislature to move the county seat to Albany, and it was.
Information filed at the Albany Regional Museum and research conducted by Ed Loy for his book “Gem of the Willamette Valley: A History of Albany, Oregon,” indicates that the first courthouse in Albany was octagonal in shape and patterned after a house built in 1852 for the Rev. James P. Millar at the corner of Second and Washington.
In 1853, Jeremiah Driggs and D. H. McClure built the wood-framed building on the block west of Vine between Fourth and Fifth avenues. Some of the funds used to pay the $2,800 construction cost were raised locally, with the remainder coming from the sale of several lots on 10 acres donated by the Monteith family.
At the structure’s completion, Delazon Smith, a journalist and politician, referred to the new courthouse as a “seven-sided miserable buzzard roost.”
The building’s interior remained unfinished, probably because the county seat was moved to the Sand Ridge area following an 1855 vote.
A majority of voters preferred Sand Ridge, which was on the lower, west slope of Peterson’s Butte. The site was more county-central than Albany.
Historian Floyd Mullen in his book “The Land of Linn:” noted that “the voters had chosen to move the county seat to a spot as bare as a wind-swept desert, to a town that was in name only, which had not even been platted and upon property to which the county had no title.”
County government remained only briefly in Sand Ridge, partly because members of the county’s militia balked.
At that time, all fit men were required to join the militia led by Mexican War veteran Col. Lawrence Helm. The colonel decided to hold one annual muster at the new county seat, pushing his men to exhaustion on an exceedingly hot day. There were no trees to offer shade and no water to drink.
The word got out about the lack of amenities at Sand Ridge so another vote was held, and by a small margin Albany regained its title as county seat. Other cities up for consideration were again Sand Ridge along with Brownsville and Lebanon.
Government officials moved back into the octagonal courthouse and conducted business there until it was destroyed by fire in 1861. Some said the fire was arson-caused, but it was never proven. Until another courthouse could be built, the county transacted operations in the rented upper floor of the Foster Block on W. First Avenue.
The succeeding courthouse was not completed until 1865. The two-story masonry structure was built for $35,000 on the west side of property now containing the current courthouse.
The courthouse boasted a central cupola and four Greek columns at the entrance. The building remained in service as it was until 1899, when the structure was enlarged, based on plans developed by Albany architect Charles Burggraf.
He eliminated the columns, replacing them with two towers and a third story. The building was used until the current courthouse opened in 1940.
In the former courthouse, a clock was placed in one of the towers and installed by F.M. French, an Albany jeweler. The clock with four 10-foot faces was made by the Seth Thomas Factory in Connecticut and shipped to Albany in 1899.
Before the building was demolished, the clock workings were sold at auction to Lee Rohrbough for $50. He sold the clock in 1966 to a man in Monmouth, who stored it for five years until he sold it to a man in Springfield in 1971.
It changed hands again until the county board of commissioners bought back the clock in 1972.
Today’s courthouse, built for $309,510, was dedicated in 1940 after ground was broken in 1938. The structure was built using federal and state funds with the aid of the Works Progress Administration.
Special features commented upon at the time by the Albany Democrat-Herald were the eight-pointed star on the main floor done in pastel shades of peach, rose and green terrazzo, and the Alaskan marble walls partially covered by 8-foot tall wainscoting.
The window that looks out onto Broadalbin is about 10 feet tall and eight feet wide and is trimmed in bronze.
County offices and courtrooms filled the first three floors, while the fourth floor reached only by a self-operating elevator contained the jail and an office for a sheriff’s deputy.
As the county’s population increased, the courthouse needed to be expanded so construction began on a new wing in 1964. It was dedicated in 1965 and called the Linn County Courthouse Annex.
Attorney L.L. Swan, 1872-1963, who was the oldest practicing attorney in Oregon and an Albany resident, left the county $500,000 to build the annex.
By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member
Let’s hope that patrons of Albany’s Carnegie Library are a little more respectful of the books they check out today than they were 80 years ago.
A story in the Albany Democrat-Herald dated March 13, 1935, states that books were being returned with photos and lettering missing.
One person removed an entire chapter from a book that dealt with the construction and operation of kites. Another book came back with an apology stating that the book was damaged by a puppy that thought it was his toy.
The story goes on to list a variety of items that were tucked between the pages that apparently were used as bookmarks, including nail files, cigarette stubs, combs, mirrors, quilt patches, a love letter, postcards, unpaid bills, embroidery, lace, photos and a check for $100.
Information about the history of the Carnegie Library, 302 Ferry St. S.W., that opened on June 23, 1914, is plentiful and can be found in scrapbooks kept at the library, in Democrat-Herald news files and in a cabinet at the Albany Regional Museum.
The movement to open a library in Albany began in 1907 with the Modern Travelers Club, which was the city’s first women’s literary society founded in 1898. The group still meets.
Member Sarah Adams, then president of the club, formed a committee to begin gathering books and other materials for a new library.
Minutes from a May 31, 1907, meeting at the Linn County Courthouse refer to the initial beginnings of the new library. The directors chosen to serve were H.H. Hewitt, Frank Miller, A.C. Schmidt Mrs. S.E Young, Mrs. J. K. Weatherford, Mrs. H.F. Merrill, Dr. M.J. Ellis, Miss Lucy Gard and F.P.Nutting.
A constitution and bylaws were adopted on Aug. 14, 1907, and committees were appointed later that month.
A little more than a year later, Miss Drake from the state library visited the group to assist with cataloging books. And then on Sept. 11, 1908, the library opened its doors to the public with Gard employed as librarian.
The collection took up one room in a brick building at the site of the former Albany-Magnolia Laundry at Second and Ferry streets.
The library was open Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
In 1910, the city took control of the library and applied for a Carnegie Foundation grant to help build a stand-alone library.
Albany’s Carnegie Library was among 1,689 nationwide and 31 in Oregon that Scottish-American, philanthropist and steel magnet Andrew Carnegie helped financially. He pledged $12,500 to construct a public library in Albany if the city provided a staff and matching funds.
The S.E. Youngs offered a portion of their yard for the site, and ground was broken for the $20,000 structure in June 1913. When the building was completed, volunteers carried the then 3,200-book collection from the old facility to the new one. Mrs. Young took in the first book, a Bible. Attempts to locate that Bible have not been successful.
The 6,000-square-foot facility boasted an auditorium in the basement that could seat 200 people.
Carnegie’s wish to finance libraries on a large scale took off starting in 1899 after the Civil War, when many women’s clubs were forming, and they were the groups most responsible for organizing the construction of libraries.
Most of Carnegie’s libraries were unique in design and were built in a number of styles, including Beaux-Arts, Italian, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Revival and Spanish Colonial. Each community chose the style it wanted.
By the early 20th century, Carnegie’s buildings were considered to be the most imposing structures in many of the nation’s small communities.
By February 1923, the Albany library contained 8,200 books: 6,100 were in the main portion of the library, while another 2,100 were kept in a section of the building operated by the school district.
Someone got the idea in May 1923 to plant red, white and blue flowers around the outside of the building. The plants came from Miss Elizabeth Hall of the Hall Floral Shop.
Albany’s Carnegie Library ran along at a good clip until representatives of Fred Meyer volunteered to donate land in 1974 on Waverly Drive if the city would construct a new library on that site. Fred Meyer thought that people would be more willing to visit the Fred Meyer store if there were a library next door.
As people flocked to use the new library and city budgets became tight, some city councilors began to suggest that the Carnegie Library be closed. However, Councilor Dick Olsen has fought successfully to keep the downtown library open.
At one point, enough money was found to restore the interior of the building to what it looked like when it opened. Over the years, the Albany Public Library Foundation has paid for books, computers and furnishings and underwritten programs and events.
At one time the regional museum’s collection was housed in the basement’s library. The artifacts now are at the regional museum, 136 Lyon St. S. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Hours at the Carnegie Library are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member
A college in Albany that closed its doors 76 years ago once fielded the best women’s basketball team in the Willamette Valley and employed a professor that later became the grandfather of Matt Groening, the creator of the animated sitcom, The Simpsons.
The college was first known as Albany Collegiate Institute and later as Albany College.
The Oregon Legislature chartered the Albany Collegiate Institute in 1867 and enthusiastic residents responded by raising $8,000 in cash and promissory notes to build a preparatory school and an institution of higher learning on land donated by the pioneer Monteith family.
The site consisted of four city blocks bounded by Ninth and 11th avenues and Ellsworth and Ferry streets.
The first building measured 50-by 66-feet and contained two stories and was crowned with a tower.
Presbyterian minister William Monteith was picked to lead the school.
College officials noted that the school would be a good place for those “timid” souls who wouldn’t be at home in a larger institution, for those wanting a Christian environment, for those without funds willing to work to pay for their educations, and for those looking for a town that had a “home atmosphere and high moral and intellectual standards.”
School opened in the fall of 1867 with 40 students. The first class graduated in 1873 and was comprised of four women: Maria Irvine, Cora Irvine, Weltha Young and Mary Hannon.
By the early 1870s, college-age students studied the sciences, English, Latin, Greek, French, German, mathematics, political science, history and bookkeeping among other offerings.
The school’s colors were orange and black, the mascot was a pirate, and the yearbook was called the “Orange Peal.” The school song was “The Orange and the Black.
In 1892, the Presbyterian Board of Aid for Colleges wanted the school’s name changed to Albany College to better reflect the high caliber of its teaching staff and to recognize the recent inauguration of its advanced curriculum. The switch was not official, however until 1905.
Also in 1905, the women’s basketball team won nearly every game it played even though it had only five players, allowing for no substitutions. Team members were Elsie Francis and Flo Nutting, forwards; Gertie Bussard and Wilda Starr, guards; and Rose Ficklin was the center.
Arthur Wilson, a former high school player in Portland, was persuaded to coach the women.
College teams in those days played against anyone available, even if it meant high school or community groups.
Despite boasting outstanding sports teams, debt and financial problems always dogged the school. There were times teachers sometimes went two months without pay.
The college nearly closed four or five times because of a lack of money coupled with a roller-coaster enrollment situation that left administrators wondering how much money student tuitions would bring in year to year. Competition for students grew as similar institutions opened in Corvallis, Eugene, Salem, McMinnville, Newberg and Forest Grove.
Also, the school found it difficult to keep accredited because there often were deficiencies in the curriculum and some facilities were ruled inadequate, such as the library and the science labs.
Nevertheless in 1925, the school decided to sell its property to the public school district and reopen on an expanded 46-acre campus at Broadway and Queen Avenue.
Unfortunately, the new campus did nothing to resolve the financial crises and the school’s demise began to take serious shape in the early 1930s, even when enrollment reached an all-time high of 214 students.
In a last effort, trustees attempted to try and secure more funds during the Depression era by offering classes in Portland, but that didn’t help, and the threat of war in Europe made continuing problematic.
The school’s doors closed forever in 1938 and operations eventually moved to the Lloyd Frank family property in Portland. In 1941, the institution became known as Lewis & Clark College.
The Albany College property was sold in 1942 to the U.S. Bureau of Mines for $143,500. Most of the proceeds went to retire the school’s debt.
At one of the last Albany College reunions, graduates remembered what it was like to go to school in a small town.
They recalled enjoying tea at the homes of college professors in the afternoons and in the evenings sitting in front of their instructors’ fireplaces talking of books and the problems of the world.
The college atmosphere was quite different back, they said.
By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member
For anyone interested in Albany’s early history, there’s a gem of a book for sale at the Albany Regional Museum that is a reproduction of the city’s first business directory published in 1878.
The 200-plus-page paperback that sells for $3 contains advertisements, listings of societies and lodges, has a compilation of churches with addresses and times of services, shows names of those living in the city, and notes all of Albany’s “public servants” since the adoption of the city charter in 1865.
And that’s just the beginning of all that’s inside the facsimile.
Near the front, city officials in 1878 are mentioned: the mayor was Jason Wheeler, the recorder J.W. Baldwin, treasurer C.C. Godley, surveyor J.A. Warner, and street commissioner W.J. Mathews. Councilors were Wm. Rumbaugh, Thomas Monteith, Claib. H. Stewart, N. H. Allen, John Brush and George F. Simpson.
Proprietors of businesses are represented in another section with their addresses. They include: Harness makers, George Hobart and Thompson & Irving; druggists, Bell & Parker, John Foshay, Charles Plummer and R. Saltmarsh; and the feed stables were operated by W.R. Cannon, Ans. Marshall and Jason Wheeler.
The locations of all of Oregon’s post offices are included in the book as are the post offices in the Washington Territory. In this part is a helpful explanation of postal rates:
Letters prepaid by stamps cost 3 cents for a “half ounce or a fraction thereof to all parts of the United States; forwarded to another post office without charge on request of the person addressed. If the stamp is omitted, the letter is forwarded to the dead-letter office and returned to the writer.”
Three public schools were operating in Albany in 1878.
Children living from Ferry Street west attended the Seventh Street School taught by Miss Maggie Irvine; those between Ferry and Railroad streets went to Central School, presided over by Professor D.V.S. Reid assisted by Miss Estella Howard and Miss Ella Hunsaker; while all of those living below Railroad went to Dixie School taught by Miss Maria G. Irvine.
Directors of the school district at this time were Dr. J.L. Hill, D.M. Thompson, and L. Flinn, while John H. Burkhart was the district clerk.
School property was valued at $7,000, funds received during the year were $3,575.14, and teachers’ wages and repairs were $1,115.67.
In another part of the book is an index of city laws, that includes the powers of the city council, the granting and collecting of licenses, the taxing of dogs, naming streets, rules relating to prisoners working on streets, the hitching of animals to shade trees, and the appointments of police and a night watchman.
The rules governing the administration of the fire department are quite precise.
For example at board of delegate sessions, the president shall preside at all meetings, shall preserve order and decorum and enforce a strict observance of the law of the department and the rules of the board.
The president shall call special meetings when requested in writing by four members or when notified by the secretary of the suspension of an officer or company, or whenever he may deem necessary.
In 1878, Joseph Webber was the fire department’s chief engineer and M.S. Monteith was the assistant engineer.
The directory brags that “our fire department though small is well regulated and very efficient, which is due in a great measure to the efforts of Joseph Webber, who has had many years of experience in fire matters.”
The section goes on to say that the city is well provided for “in the way of water for the use of the engines. Besides eight large cisterns located at different points, several races and flumes traverse our streets from Eighth to the banks of the Willamette and can be used for fire purposes at any point.”
Here are some examples of advertisements appearing in the front of the directory:
Scott & Monteith’s sportsmen’s emporium at 124 Front Street was “importers and dealers in guns, rifles and revolvers of every description.” Also on sale were fishing tackle, fancy goods, beads, baskets, birdcages and croquet games. The business also repaired sewing machines.
W. H. Brunk, no address listed, manufactured the “very best” boots and shoes in Albany and guaranteed perfect fits and low prices.
Conrad Meyer operated the Star Bakery at Broadalbin and First streets and dealt in groceries, crockery, glassware, bread, cakes, pies, cigars and tobacco.
Ans. Marshall was the proprietor of Fashion Stables that featured “the best turn-outs in the city. When you want a good rig, be sure to call at the Fashion Stables at the corner of Second and Washington streets.”
F. S. Dunning was a wholesale and retail dealer in furniture, and undertaking was a specialty. “Rosewood caskets and coffins always on hand.”
The facsimile of the 1878 directory was printed probably in 1978 and was commissioned by Tripp & Tripp Realtors, the “pioneer real estate firm in the Willamette Valley.” It is thought that the book was used for business promotions.
Hours to purchase the book at the museum, 136 Lyon St. S. are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 541-967-7122 or visit online at www.armuseum.com.
By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum board member
Before there were automobiles, visitors coming to Albany to transact business or visit friends primarily arrived by railroad, riverboat or horse and carriage.
Oftentimes, they needed a place to stay and eat so they sought out Albany’s hotels that often were just glorified boarding houses. Later, the hotels began to offer more amenities and boasted more comfortable accommodations.
By 1892, Albany had six hotels from which visitors could choose.
Probably one of the best known was the beige brick, four-story St. Francis Hotel that still stands at 406 First Ave. S.W. and now serves as a print shop and storage area.
The 27,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1912 by Ebner Rhodes in what was known as a part of the E.H. Rhodes block that already contained a two-story structure that he built in 1907.
Rhodes was thought to be a fruit buyer, and he lived with his wife, Sarah, in a house he built at 238 Fifth Ave. S.W. that at one time was the Reed Hospital.
Democrat-Herald newspaper stories and paperwork on file at the Albany Regional Museum note that the high ceilings in the St. Francis lobby were covered with sheets of decorative metal, and the floor was white, inch-square ceramic tiles with black and brown tiles inserted in various places to create interest.
A door on the second floor opened into an annex so “drummers,” another word for salesmen, could display their wares for local merchants to see and perhaps purchase. The second floor also served as the employees’ living quarters.
Guests and the townspeople referred to the St. Francis as the “classiest” place in town with the possible exception of the Albany Hotel at Second Avenue and Lyon Street.
At first, the St. Francis designed by Albany architect Charles Burggraf was called the Rhodes Hotel but then the name was changed to the St. Francis, possibly because of a sign.
A 500-pound sign created by the Federal Electric Co. of Chicago in 1903 probably for the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco became available at no cost. The sign made its way to the hotel in Albany, and the name was switched to accommodate a sign that fell into the owner’s lap.
A night’s stay in the 60-room hotel when it first opened cost 50 cents, the same price as a meal in the dining room. There was no electricity for the upper three floors.
A jitney or a bus ferried guests to and from the train station so they no longer had to walk.
When it no longer was used as a hotel starting in 1966, a number of other businesses called it home, one being the FBI.
Later, plans fell through to turn the hotel into a jazz club with apartments above and then developers thought the building would make a good boutique hotel.
In 2012, the Historic Preservation League of Oregon placed the building on the endangered list.
Here is a roundup of several of Albany’s early hotels.
In 1910 the Charles Burggraf designed Hotel Van Dran was built on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Lyon Street. The Depot Hotel was converted into the kitchen and dining room for the Vandran Hotel.
In 1947 the Vandran closed and later became the Albany-Linn Nursing Home. The building was once again closed in 1974 and then demolished in 1987.
The Revere House was at the corner of First Avenue and Ellsworth Street. The 42-room, wooden structure was built in 1877 by Charles Pfeiffer.
The Hotel Hammel was built in 1912 on the southwest corner of Third Avenue and Ellsworth. The six-story building later became the Hotel Albany, closing in 1967. It has been torn down.
The Exchange Hotel was on the southwest corner of First Avenue and Washington Street.
The Franklin House was south of First between Lyon and Baker streets.
The Russ House was on the northeast corner of First and Lyon.
The St. Charles Hotel was on the northwest corner of First and Washington.
The Depot Hotel was at 10th Avenue and Lyon.
For years, Ralph R. Cronise, an editor and publisher of the Democrat-Herald, made regular rounds of Albany’s hotels to check the guest registries. Then in his columns, he would note who was visiting Albany alongside where they lived.
Many hotel guests were from Mill City, Crawfordsville and Portland.