Thursday, June 14, 2012

Salem Houses by Van Evera Bailey? An Architectural Quest

Pursuing down some details about the Capital City Laundry, reader RC found some very tantalizing suggestions in the archives of the Oregon Historical Society - and also proved there's just one degree of separation between anyone and beer!

Mid-century, the laundry was owned and operated by Richard Rawlinson, and perhaps even sometimes known as Rawlinson's Laundry. Apparently in 1953 the Rawlinsons engaged Portland architect Van Evera Bailey to design a home. The drawings are at OHS, and suggest the Rawlinsons had a lot on Argyle Street:
93 plans, sections, details, schedules and elevations on 6 sheets of a house for Mr. & Mrs. Richard Rawlinson on Argyle St. in Salem, Oregon, scale: 1/4" : 1' to 1:1, 1953.
Naturally we were curious, and poked around a little more. Turns out Bailey also drew up plans for Werner and Geraldine Brown.

Oregon Historical Quarterly, Winter 2011
Why is Bailey interesting?  You may recall the hops article in last winter's issue of Oregon Historical Quarterly.  Right next to it there was also a long essay and reconsideration of Bailey! The cover reproduced an image from the July 1954 piece in Better Homes and Gardens on the Eyre home in Portland. (It makes us think a little of the Watzek house, newly minted National Historic Landmark!)

About Bailey the quarterly summarizes,
During his forty-year career, mid-century Oregon architect Van Evera Bailey (1903–1980) designed hundreds of modern residences, many of which are lived in today in the Portland metropolitan region. Bailey’s legacy is but little known outside local architectural circles and is continually eclipsed by those of his more famous contemporaries and fellow developers of the Northwest Regional style. Architectural historian Hope H. Svenson takes a fresh look at the domestic architecture of Van Evera Bailey, offering thorough analysis of several Bailey-designed houses in greater Portland. By situating his architecture in its broader regional and historical contexts, the author demonstrates the importance of Bailey’s contribution to Oregon’s built environment in defining and documenting the shifting cultural values of modern-era America and the Pacific Northwest.
There is also a $20,000 mid-career fellowship for architects in his name.

So it would be interesting to learn that some of Salem's residents might have commissioned a house by Bailey.

The initial leads unfortunately peter out. Phone directories suggest in the mid-1950s the Rawlinsons moved into a house on Doughton - close to Argyle, it's true, but the county assessor suggests the house was built in 1951, a couple of years too early (if the finding aid's dating of 1953 is correct).

The Browns also moved in the early 1950s, but they seem to have moved into the Cusick House, designed by Fred Legg 40 years before, and not into a newly built house.

So does anyone know of any Salem houses designed by Van Evera Bailey?  One or more would be an interesting chapter in Salem mid-century modern style and development.

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