Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Brookings, Oregon

Oregon company towns were often lumber towns - and Brookings, Oregon, founded in 1907, was no exception.  Brookings was right on the border with California, almost two hundred and fifty miles south of Eugene.  The Brookings history site says:
St. George Hotel
Brookings State Bank

It is obvious that Brookings wanted more than a mill town; he wanted a town town. In 1914, Brookings incorporated the Brookings Land and Townsite Company in St. Louis, Mo. That was the same year that the Central Building was built. Bill Ward became the general manager of the company and of the town. One of his first tasks was to hire Bernard Maybeck to design a model town. Mr. Maybeck is famous for his design of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
The model town may have been some time in the making - one of my favorite pictures is the bank, which is charmingly shack-ish and surrounded by wild ferns.

My great-grandfather Raymond went to Brookings to build buildings, and sent postcards home to Alta.  After their marriage in 1916, Alta joined him in Brookings.  It was hundreds of miles from home for both of them, and must have been quite a newly-wed adventure.

Alta took a picture of her 1917 Sunday School class (looking not very amused), presumably on the porch of the building that the Brookings history site describes this way:  

By 1921, the town had 12 grades of schools, four hotels, a moving picture theater, a church and amusement hall that also was used for town meetings. The biggest amusement was the chickens under the building that would constantly disrupt the church and the town meeting. Numerous letters were written to the caretaker of the building to please remove his chickens.

I like having the whole history of a town's start within the history of a family - the places that they lived later weren't so new, or so well-documented. Clearly they were excited both by their new marriage and the new town they helped to build.


  1. These are great pictures. That bank looks like it is just sitting out in the middle of nowhere. How interesting to have your family so involved in the beginnings of the town.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I agree - it's hard to feel really secure about that bank!