Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beer and the Fragility of Old Media: Change at the Statesman & Oregonian

You know we love beer, here at CT. And while we use new media, we also love old media. It's great to see the Ram's seasonal get some coverage in the Statesman.

But on the same day as the Oregonian is whacking a substantial part of their newsroom, coming after at least two rounds of buy-outs, it's a bit alarming to see the pint get the high-quality front page real estate as if the piece was legitimate news, something more than a repurposed press release.

The change in old-media is old news. Still, as the good professor says at the Oregon Economics Blog, the continuing degradation of the fourth estate should be a cause for alarm for all of us.

A toast to good journalists who have lost their jobs, and to all the jobless in the Great Recession. This change is no fun.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Built more than Bush House: W.F. Boothby Water Booster, Controversy Buster

Wilbur F. Boothby was perhaps the first notable architect in Salem. But he did much more. He was also a bit of a public polemicist!

Before the era of licensing and specialization, prior to designing buildings he was originally trained as a carpenter and then engineer. One of the most interesting episodes of his civic life is the controversy surrounding the start of the Salem Water Company.

In her fascinating series of year-by-year snapshots of Salem, Virginia Green suggests that in 1876,"Salem began to solve its water problem." The 19th century history of Salem's plumbing is little known, but a lengthy statement in the Statesman from January, 1878 suggests that the water works and 80-foot water tower built in 1876 together were far from solving the problems.

Salem, in fact, struggled for over a half-century to solve the problems. We've already noted the typhoid scare of Christmas 1909 and how Mayor Lachmund torpedoed the 1911 effort to tap into purer mountain water.

But long before the final water success in the 1930s, Boothby was active in Salem city life. His main buildings are mostly known, though in Architects of Oregon Richard Ritz cautions that the exact extent of Boothby's design work is not always known on buildings to which his name has been attached. Boothby is celebrated for the 1872 County Courthouse1, the Bush House, First United Methodist Church, the Eldridge block, and the J Building at the State Hospital. Gaston suggests he might also have worked on the Capitol and the Penitentiary. Other than the Bush House, however, his residential work is not known. Boothby died in 1912 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

The part of his history that is largely forgotten is his role as President of the Salem Water Company. Frank Mauldin mentions Boothby in his history of Salem water, Sweet Mountain Water. About the water tower Mauldin notes
it was a huge mistake to assume the cistern would supply sufficient water without testing it before building the water tank and installing the steam powered pump. When the cistern failed, another mistake was made in not ending the suction line upstream in the main river channel instead of in the Willamette Slough...

(Detail from Birdseye Map of Salem, 1876 at Historic Map Works. Cistern in middle left; County Courthouse in upper right; Reed Opera House and White Corner / Breyman Blocks along Court street in center.)
A short decade after construction the water tower had outlived its usefulness. The leaky tank was regarded as an unsightly landmark...with increasing public criticism the water company decided to demolish the water tower in the 1880s.
Mauldin discusses Boothby's role as engineer and president, but as his interest is mainly the 20th century, and does not extend to architecture, he doesn't connect the dots between Boothby the engineer and Boothby the architect. But the connection is also is unknown to Ritz and given but one line in the Salem Downtown Historic District Nomination.

We can at least highlight the connection here. The 1870s were full of engineering difficulties, outright failures, and political maneuvering around the delivery of tap water. This was the Gilded Age, after all. Tracing out the full extent of that history is beyond our scope here, but a long apologia Boothby arranged to have published in the Statesman establishes his centrality to the problem of water and gives much of the flavor and bitterness of the controversy.

The entirety of the statement is almost 1800 words. It has its longueurs. But the 19th century political rhetoric is pretty great. Not much in the way of pulled punches!

By W.F. Boothby, President of the Salem Water Company, in regard to the Action of the City Council

Since public attention has of late been frequently called to the Salem Water Company by certain persons who seem desirous of making false impressions on the public mind concerning it, and who for that purpose do not hesitate to purposely and deliberately utter falsehoods concerning its organization, the means used to procure it charter from the city, and the conduct of its members since it has been in existence, I regard it but due to the company, as well as those who wish to deal fairly and to judge justly between the company, the city and its citizens, that I submit a brief statement...

In the year 1870 the Common Council of the city of Salem advertised for bids to furnish the city with water for a term of years. The time for receiving bids had nearly expired and the term of office of the members of that Council had nearly expired before any bids were presented.
The vote had taken place at the end of a council term in special session. Criticism focused on the timing.
The persons who have made their attacks on the Water Company have not hesistated to more than insinuate that the members of that Council had been influenced by corrupt means, applied by the Water Company, to pass the ordinance. This infamous and cowardly charge is as well answered as any way by giving the names of the members of the Common Council at that time.
Here are the council members at the time.
First Ward – W.L. Wade and R. Williams. Second Ward – J.L. Starkey and J.G. Wright. Third Ward – B.F. Drake and L.S. Skiff. Fourth Ward – J.H. Bridges and J.C. Brown. Not one among them whose name is not sufficient to prove the utter maliciousness of the untruthful scoundrels who made such imputations.
Boothby here may protest too much! The vigorous denial suggests, of course, that quite the opposite was the case. In any event, the revolving door of public-to-private jobs was a problem back then, too, not just in the legislature, and some new jobs gave the appearance of impropriety.
It should be borne in mind that the charge that Mayor Smith and Recorder Waymire were in the Council at the time this ordinance was passed is wholly false, and also that they did not become owners of their stock of the company until long after work commenced.
When a new City Council was elected and seated, they attempted to nullify the contract and waterworks facilities.
The company completed their works and began to furnish water under their contract in 1871, and continued to do so for over two years, when, in utter disregard of their solemn obligation, duly and regularly entered into by the city, under which the company had invested a large sum of money and in such a venture as made it impossible to get it back again, another Council voted to repeal so much of the ordinance conferring the charter upon them, but left in full force all the provisions requiring the company to supply water to the city – and act which was undoubtedly induced by just such false charges as certain loathesome creatures are now making to prejudice the public mind against the company.
Then came a series of settlements, attempts at changing the contract, and double-dealing. There were also wild disputes over the valuation of the Salem Water Company's waterworks. They culminated in a dispute which appears to have got personal.
The fact is, that the money now owed by the company in this city, which has been expended in these works, is more than double the sum named, and this sum is but a part of the cost of the works. I will further state that no officer in the company has or is to draw one cent salary for services done for the company; and that each and every year the company has been compelled to levy assessments on its stock to pay interest, moneys borrowed, and running expenses... [Alderman] Murphy has repeatedly charged that the Water Company were wholly responsible for the late trouble with the Hook and Ladder Company, and that the Water Company had improperly and corruptly interfered with the late election in this city. I desire simply to say that in both of these matters the man who uttered them knew that he was not speaking the truth, and the remarks were only made in his desperate, wanton and cowardly ambition for revenge.
After this, what more could be said? The final peroration is a bit of a let-down, perhaps the exhaustion of one with the weaker case. Unfortunately this letter is plucked like a plum out of the pudding, and CT has not researched its context. Still, it reads more like bluster than substantive critique or defense - and where there's smoke, there's likely fire!
In conclusion I desire to say that any person who will take the trouble to examine the matter will see that the rates originally agreed to be paid to the company, viz., $150 per month, was less than any city on this coast is supplied with the same quantity of water for. I know the people desire to deal justly, act honestly, and do that which is fair, but since this water supply is necessarily a tax upon the city, it is made a pretext for base men playing the part of contemptible demagogues, to misrepresent, by bare lies, the true condition of affairs and to mislead those who do not have the time or opportunity to ascertain the facts.

W.F. Boothby,
President Salem Water Company

As we've mentioned before, as a source of flavored and pre-boiled water, beer was a beverage much safer than tapwater. We are likely, therefore, to understate the importance of beer in the daily lives of people struggling against the frequency of water-borne gastro-intestinal illnesses. Beer was good for you in important ways!

1 See correction here. Boothby was part of the construction firm and possibly engineer; the design is more securely ascribed to W.W. Piper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiter, I need a Ventilator! Bock Beer for Lent

Yesterday was Marti Gras and today is Ash Wednesday. And that means Lenten austerities.

Back in the day, crafty monks brewed up a caloriffic work-around for fasting: You might have heard of "liquid bread"? The monks of the Paulaner monastery first brewed Paulaner Salvator for just this purpose!

CT has not fact-checked the following story of its origin, so it is perhaps best regarded as apocryphal, though that doesn't make it any less charming!
The first Lenten strong beer was brewed by Paulaner monks at Cloister Neudeck ob der Au in Munich. The Paulaners had arrived in Munich from Italy in 1627. They began brewing beer for their own comsumption shortly thereafter—exactly when is not clear. Depending on which documents one can trust, the year was 1630, 1651 or 1670. The Paulaners felt, however, that such a strong brew with such delightful qualities might be just a bit too much of an indulgence for Lent. So they decided to ask the Holy Father in Rome for a special dispensation so that they could continued to brew it with a clear conscience. The Paulaners dispatched a cask of Lenten beer to Rome for the pope to try and to pass judgment. During its transport across the Alps and along the burning sun of Italy, unfortunately—or fortunately—the cask tossed and turned, and heated for several weeks—a classic condition for causing beer to turn sour and undrinkable. So when the Holy Father tasted the much-praised stuff from Munich, he found it (appropriately) disgusting. His decision: Because the brew was so vile, it was probably beneficial for the souls of the Munich monks to make and drink as much of it as they could. Therefore, he willingly gave the brewing of this new, allegedly rotten, beer style his blessing. Little did he know...!

Recently we enjoyed Sierra Nevada's Glissade Golden Bock. What a lovely beer! Stylistically it was a Helles or Maibock and just as the copy said, it was a perfect beer for the transition from winter to spring - and our unseasonably early cherry blossoms. It also featured those spicy European hops, which we get to taste so rarely in the Pacific Northwest. Very different from the citrus and pine of our local hops!

So here's some opportunities, brewers.

Someone should brew an homage to Salem beer! Beck's Bock, Adolph Doppelbock, or Klinger Kolsch beckon! Salem Beer would make a great brand, too!

Another homage that should happen: Someone should brew a doppelbock for Venti's! They're Italian, the Paulaner monks were from Italy, there are some maidenly puns on bocks available to the proprietors - I mean, the stars are in clear alignment! (And since the logo's a rooster, there's a whole 'nuther set of bawdy puns on bock!)

The German naming convention uses the suffix -ator, like Celebrator, Salvator, it's obvious: Salem needs a Ventilator beer!

Waiter, I need a Ventilator, stat!

So, you about a Ventilator?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Bacardi Birthday: Oregon at 151

Are we hung-over from the Sesquicentennial? No way! Here at CT we can't get enough local history with our beer!

Lucky us...Today there's a great piece in the Statesman today about Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers and their research and fund-raising in support of the Oregon African American Museum.

That's got to be an exciting area of research. For while there's a clear history of execrable racism that will not be so difficult to document and too often painful to read, there's also a lost continent, however sparsely populated, of laudable people and stories. The recovery of that continent will be a special archeology. Though there's not as much going on as you'd wish, there's way more than you suspect!

Over at the O, John Terry revisits the 1865 double-hanging near Church and Trade.

In other news, K. Williams Brown proposes Sir Thomas More as the Patron Saint of Salem. This paperweight is the perfect way to celebrate!
But you know what there is no patron saint of? Salem.

When I called local Catholic churches and abbeys to ask about this, they said there was no reason Salem couldn't have a patron saint — Baker City, for example, does — just that we don't have one, so far as we know.

So then I called Jerry Lauzon, who is just about my favorite source ever and a devout Catholic. He was tickled by the idea of a patron saint of Salem, at which point we tried to figure out who is the patron of bureacracies.

And so, here is Jerry's and my humble suggestion: Saint Thomas More, born Feb. 7, 1478, and decapitated July 6, 1535 after snubbing King Henry VII.

Saint Thomas is the patron saint of civil servants, court clerks, lawyers, politicians, politicos and statesmen, which seems appropriate for Salem.

He's also the patron of large families, difficult marriages and step-parents, which is useful no matter your location. Also, his feast day is June 22, which is a really pleasant time to be in Salem
So, you know, a decapitated Saint for the Capital City? Are we running around like a headless chicken? The jokes are capital! Yuk, yuk, yuk...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eulogies for Eugene: The Eckerlen Building & its Owner

While we wait for the new grocery store - or whatever it is that's going to go in at 145 Liberty - we should remember Eugene Eckerlen. With Seraphin Beck and Maurice Klinger, he was also part of a cluster of Alsatians who came to Salem and were instrumental in its beer culture.1

Eckerlen (also Eugene Eckerlin) has appeared several times here at CT. He has appeared in stories about the burial of Seraphin Beck in 1899 near the site of Mary Eckerlen, about the 1903 sale of the Capital Brewery and formation of the Salem Brewing Association parnership, and the 1908 Saloon Ordinance. He'll likely appear in more!

I have no idea what Eckerlen was like as a person. Evidence for his personality is scant; most of his biography and personality remains opaque.

But what his clear is that he faced no small amount of trial and sorrow. Over his life he lost three great things: His first wife, a son, and a career.

Coincidentally, like its namesake, the Eckerlen building is also hidden. Like many of the downtown buildings, it has undergone a curvy moderne update in the 1940s. You wouldn't know how old it is from the outside. In this photo from 1939, the Bishop's sign is on the front of the Eckerlen building, which sits between the Gray building on the corner and the Montgomery Ward building. (Virginia Green's walking tour shows the Eckerlen Building as you're going the other way, and a straight-on shot of its front elevation.)

The Nomination Form for the Salem Downtown Historic District gives much of its history. Mostly it's pretty good, but we'll see a couple of instances where it's misleading.
The Eckerlen Building was built in 1894, and added to in the 1910s...the building is associated with the Gray and, primarily, the Eckerlen families, who played an important role in the transportation and commercial history of Salem in the late 1800s and 1900s.

The Gray family evidently had this two-story constructed in 1894, just three years after the completion of the larger Gray block of shops immediately to the south. In 1895 both floors of the Eckerlen building housed agricultural implements and machinery. The Gray brothers, Charles A., George B., and William T., contributed to the turn-of the-century up-building of Salem. In the late 1880s, Charles A. Gray was the superintendent of the Salem Street Railway Company. The Polk Salem directory listed George B. and William T. Gray as a realtor and a capitalist, respectively. By the early 1900s, William and George Gray worked as a general contractor. All three Gray brothers left Salem around 1907.

Gertrude G. Lownsdale owned this building briefly from 1907-1909. Eugene Eckerlen bought the property in May 1909.

One of the persistent problems in researching Salem history is City Ordinance 436, the address change enacted on October 10, 1904. Along this stretch of Commercial, the numbering of addresses lost a hundred or so. Failing to note the change adequately leads the researcher in the next passage to an ambiguity that reads more like a mistake: The Eckerlen saloon did not move. From 1889-1905, Polk directories list his Saloon at 260 Commercial, but afterwards at 152 North Commercial. Though it looks like a move, because of the city-wide change in addressing, these addresses identified the same building.

Eckerlen's Saloon was in the building whose footprint is now a parking lot between the Bike Peddler and Alessandro's. You can see historic photos of the 200-block of Commercial here and here. These show a continuous line of buildings, before the void created by demolition and the parking lot.2
For many years, Eugene Eckerlen operated a saloon in the 200-block of Commercial Street and, later, in the 100-block of Commercial in what became known as the Eckerlen Building. After Eckerlen purchased the building at 145-147 Liberty Street in 1909 it became known as the "New Eckerlen Building." Eckerlen, however, did not move his saloon into the building and, instead, rented out space to other Salem merchants.

The next oddity about the research is the silence on prohibition. There should be no mystery why the Eckerlen's "no longer operated a saloon"! The voters of Salem made their occupation illegal and forced them out of business. This formula is disingenuous and mystifies a significant social movement and change. (Details of Eckerlen shot glass here)
By the early 1920s, Eugene and Alice Eckerlen no longer operated a saloon on Commercial Street; they pursued farming until Eugene Eckerlen's death in 1933. The [New] Eckerlen Building on Liberty Street passed to Eugene Eckerlen, Jr., and his wife, Virginia Eckerlen.
The Eckerlen's farming seems to have preceded prohibition. They lived in the 600 block of Liberty NE, between Union and Division, just south of Boon's and on the edge of the city. They were part of a national association breeding pure-bred swine, the Poland-China breed, documented in 1900 and 1905.

Being forced out of business wasn't their only loss. In fact, Eugene Eckerlen faced other profound losses.

Eugene's first wife, Mary, died on November 16th, 1890. Her obituary says that she had been ill for five weeks from "inflammation of the bowels" and had left three children. She was 31. (Her grave marker in St. Barbara's cemetery gives the date of the obituary, not the date the obituary gives of her death.)

Nearly 30 years later, Eugene lost his son Ernest Theodore in World War I. Ernest's name is inscribed on the Doughboy memorial outside of the Veteran's Affairs Building. According to one source, he was a private in the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, 2nd Division, and perished just before Armistice Day, on 5 November 1918. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery.

In March, 1921 Eugene's brother Theodore died in Alsace.

Eugene died on 16 September 1933. According to his obituary he was 76. He was born in Housen, near Colmar, Alsace-Lorraine, on 20 August 1857. He came to the United States in the 1870s. He was survived by his second wife, Alice (the obituaries did not mention first wife, Mary), son Eugene, Jr., daughters Leondine, Matilda, Mary, and Bertha, a sister Leontine, and a grandson by Leondine, Eugene.

His death just preceded the repeal of Prohibition, and the obituary didn't talk much about his role in Salem brewing. If in 1899 Seraphin Beck was still a big deal in town, by 1933 Eckerlen was much smaller fry. Salem and its economic base were much larger, more diversified, and a little gentrified. The genteel retailing of Bishop's and woolens, and not the Eckerlens and drinking, were getting the attention.

The walk of St. Barbara's Cemetery gives Eugene (Sr.), first wife Mary, second wife Alice, and daughter Mary as buried together. I was not able to find the other Eckerlens obviously nearby (though my search was cursory and hasty). However, I was able to confirm that Seraphin Beck is buried in the plot immediately adjoining, and that several Klingers, including Maurice Klinger, were also buried nearby. The neighborliness of their graves suggests they were also neighborly in life.

1The history of these Alsatians, who appear mainly to have looked to Catholic France (though others might look to Germany), and of other Germans like Samuel Adolph and the Breyman family, appears to be an important part of Salem history, little known and rarely told. It is more than we can do right now, but perhaps we can piece it together and add to the ethnic histories of Salem.

2Here's an annotated 1895 Sanborn for the old Eckerlen building. (Click through for a much larger image!) It shows the east side of Commercial street between State and Court. Before the 1904 address change it was the 200-block, and afterwards it was the 100-block. The Breyman Bros. block was also known as the White Corner. Note all the saloons and gambling establishments! The YMCA building is the current home to Alessandro's. The buildings demolished for the parking lot are also indicated.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ignite & Wurstfest this Weekend

Get the weekend started early! Ignite Salem III is tonight at Northern Lights. Favorite CT lecturer Elizabeth Schulte will be giving another installment of Salem's sordid side in the "Dark Side of History."

Though it may not exactly be a form of fermentation, cheesemaking is a lot like beermaking, and Dale Doherty will present "Blessed are the Cheesemakers."

And whether the talks are good or bad, there's plenty of beer at the pub!

Then, this weekend in Mt. Angel, lots of Spaten beer and sausage!

There's no excuse not to have a pleasantly beery weekend!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where's the Zwickelmania, Salem-area Breweries?

Portland, Eugene, and Bend all have Zwickelmania activities planned! Salem-area?...crickets.

What's Zwickelmania, you ask? From the Oregon Brewers Guild:
This President’s Day weekend, dozens of Oregon breweries and brewpubs will open their doors to visitors for the state’s 2nd annual Zwickelmania. Zwickelmania, hosted by the Oregon Brewers Guild (OBG), is a free statewide event that offers visitors a chance to tour Oregon breweries, meet the brewers and sample their favorite beers.

When: Saturday, February 13th, 2010 from 11-4 pm
What: Oregon Brewers Guild Brewery Open House.

Salem-area brewers, where's the love? Where's the mania?

Thompson's Enters Bumble Blue Pale Ale to 17th Annual Hillsdale Brewfest

Good luck! The world needs more quality pale ales just now!

From the release:
20 McMenamins brewers present 20 beers in competition at the historic “Battle of the Belt”

PORTLAND, Ore.—On Saturday, February 20, 2010, the notorious “Battle of the Belt” rages for the seventeenth time at Hillsdale Brewery & Public House (1505 SW Sunset Blvd.). McMenamins’ Hillsdale Brewfest is a day-long event featuring twenty original brews such as Au Pear Porter, Whatawit, The Elvis Conspiracy and The Viper, along with food specials, revelry, merriment and – most important – a competition for the coveted Belt. The Hillsdale Brewfest is free to attend, begins at 11 a.m. and is open to guests of all ages; those 21 and over may taste the ales.

Twenty of the finest ales from McMenamins’ breweries are sent into battle, their brewers vying for bragging rights, the notorious championship belt and a berth in the annual Oregon Brewers Festival. Patrons order “trays” of beer, arranged from lightest to darkest – each of the two trays offers ten 4-ounce samples and costs $8.75. It is our guests’ duty to decide who deserves the coveted title. With seventeen ales from Oregon and three from Washington, these beers cover the spectrum of brew styles – from hefeweizen to oatmeal stout, barleywine to smoked amber ale and beyond. Each taster casts one ballot that lists his or her top three choices.

The victorious brewer at this year’s Battle of the Belt will represent McMenamins at the 23rd Annual Oregon Brewers Festival in downtown Portland on July 22–25, 2010. For more information, visit

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Salem Burns Fred Legg - Neglected Architect of Fairview and More

One hundred years ago Frederick Legg was an important architect in Salem. Today he's mostly forgotten. As it turns out, though, his buildings remain standing more often than those of any other historic architect in town.

Though Legg's designs aren't the most beautiful, elegant, or innovative, they are handsome, and it is possible that through solid engineering and practical design, his buildings have remained useful longer than more distinctive designs of his peers and predecessors. In any case, as measured by the quantity of his structures still standing, Legg stakes a claim as the most important historic architect in Salem.

At least three of Legg's buildings have also burned. Just a week ago, Pierce Cottage at Fairview Training Center burned down. According to the University of Oregon photo archives, Frederick Legg (also Frederick Legge) designed it, and was also responsible for the design of Hoff, Holman, Kay, Kozer, Olcott, and Smith cottages.(Photo: Ruth Liao, Statesman-Journal)

Walter D. Pugh (the Grand Theater and old City Hall) designed the very first building at Fairview, LeBreton Hall. As the list suggests, next round of commissions was substantial and it went to Legg. Legg had been a junior partner in Pugh's firm, and it's not at present clear whether the commissions had gone to the firm for Legg to execute or if, perhaps, Legg took the client with him when he left.

According to Richard Ritz in his book, Architects of Oregon, Pugh and Legg practiced out of Portland between 1907-09 and dissolved the partnership in 1910. Legg's primary office continued to be in Portland until 1915, when he moved to Salem. The Polk directories give Legg's offices in the Murphy block (destroyed by fire; see note on it below). Once Oregon started licensing architects, Legg's was number 0056. (Pugh was never licensed and became a "contractor.")

At any rate, by 1910 Legg was established on his own, and in a January 1 puff piece in a substantial advertorial section published annually in the Statesman, the list of his buildings is substantial. Curiously, the Nomination Form for the Salem Downtown Historic District fails to attribute many of these buildings to Legg. It is possible his considerable contributions to Salem have been forgotten.


Mr. Fred A. Legg, known as "Salem's architect," is known throughout the Northwest as one of the most proficient workmen of his trade. He has been a resident of Salem, Oregon, from time to time, for twenty-five years, several years of which he and Mr. Pugh of this city were partners in business. Mr. Legg's unquestionable competency is evidenced in his works. The development of his plans and designs for the United States National Bank building [Pioneer Trust], of this city, has produced one of the most admirable buildings in the Capital City.

The architectural work on the Oregon State Mute School buildings was done by Mr. Legg. The plans of this group of buildings [photo: Wikipedia, building demolished in 1975], located about one mile north of Salem, has rendered them the most convenient of any of their kind in the Northwest.

The new Garfield school [and here], on the corner of Cottage and Marion streets, was also planned and designed by Mr. Legg. The patrons of this school claim the honor of having the most artistic public school in Marion county.

The big barn on the Oregon State Insane Asylum Farm was built according to his plans and Dr. Steiner, the superintendent of the Oregon State Insane Asylum, and many other state officials claim it to be the best barn in the west.

At the Oregon State Fair grounds the most commendable piece of work that attracts the attention of the visitor is the big Arcade at the entrance of the Administration building designed by Mr. Legg.

At the present time Mr. Legg is working on the plans and designs of the Union Bank & Trust Company building of Portland. The dimensions of this building are 50x100 feet and twelve stories high.

No architectural work is too great or too small for Mr. Legg, and if he undertakes to do any work for you, you are going to be satisfied.

Near the end of his life, incidental to a series on pioneers of the 1840s in the "Bits for Breakfast" Statesman column, on May 26, 1936, R. J. Hendricks surveyed Legg's career on the back end:
...Information has since reached this desk that to a long time and prominent resident of the capital city, C. C. Bozarth [pioneer of 1845] was a grand uncle on his father's side and a first uncle on the side of his mother.

He is Frederick Arthur Legge, the well known architect, more familiar to Salem old timers as Fred Legg, whose home is at 1499 State street....

William Thomas Legge married Christine Rachel John on July 3, 1859, and there came to this union one daughter and five sons, Frederick A. being one of the five, born in Multnomah county, Oregon, Nov 16, 1868.

He married Lulu Smith, daughter of Dr. Harrison Smith of Salem, on January 21, 1893.

They have a daughter, Margaret, who was married to Wallace C. Griffith on June 9, 1926, and they have a small daughter Margaret Claire, born in Salem April 7, 1927. Mr. Griffith, a teacher, has charge of CCC educational programs in the district just below the Oregon line, headquarters at Crescent City, Cal.

Also a son, Kenneth C. Legge, who married Velma Baker September 22, 1929. He is an architect and they now live in Portland, he being connected with PWA headquarters for Oregon, under C. C. Hockley.

Frederick A. Legge came to Salem 50 years ago next September and entered Willamette University, graduating after four years; then went to Philadelphia to study pharmacy.

From 1905 he owned an operated a drug store in Salem, on State street, for 16 years.

Since that time he has followed a profession of architect. Many fine buildings in this state testify to the fact that he has been busy, and efficient.

Among them are Lausanne hall, Willamette University; U.S. National bank building, Salem; Salem Bank of Commerce, now Guardian building; building occupied by the Hamilton Furniture store; the White Corner, Commercial and Court; Willis building, occupied by the Stiff furniture company; Roth Grocery company building, now occupied by the Silver Grand store, and numerous others.

Also the Salem high school, and most of the other public buildings in Salem; those of the state school for the deaf, and about a dozen at the Fairview home, formerly called the state institution for the feeble minded. And many more.

Mr. Legge some months ago suffered severe physical injuries by a fall from a building. It was feared he might not recover, or would emerge a cripple.

But sheer grit and faithful persistency have brought him to a point near complete recovery, with prospect of full physical vigor very soon...

The list of additional buildings is impressive. The most interesting is the reference to "the Salem high school." It's not clear whether this refers to the old Salem high school built in 1905 or the new school now known as North Salem High School, completed in 1937, and in process of design and construction in May 1936. Less likely, Parrish Middle School was completed in 1924.

The old school's massing is very similar to the buildings at Fairview, and some accounts have associated it with Walter D. Pugh. Since the building lacks Pugh's signature towers and more resembles the Fairview buildings, it is reasonable to associate the design with Legg, perhaps executed under Pugh's supervision. At the same time, with the new high school in progress at the time of the article, Hendricks article is ambiguous, and we cannot rule out the newer school.

Several school buildings are securely identified with Legg. Lausanne Hall is the most distinctive. Others are more generic and gave rise to templates. The original plan of Englewood is almost exactly like Garfield. Highland and Richmond are quite handsome, and resemble more of the two- and three-story commercial buildings downtown. Clusters of the schools were clearly built at the same time and from the same basic plan.

The list of Legg's commercial buildings is also impressive. The Willis building and Stiff Furniture Company is the current home of the Book Bin at 450 Court St. NE. In 1936 the Hamilton Furniture store occupied 340 Court St. NE, the current location of Sid's Home Furnishings. The kinship between 450 Court and 340 Court is unmistakable. The Roth Grocery building was the former home of Jonathan's Long Bar at 120 Liberty Rd. NE. It was built in 1916.

Other commercial buildings identified with Legg that are included in the Nomination form include the Boise Building at 217 State St.; the Vick Building at 525 Trade St. SE; and the Farrar Building at 351-367 State St. Again there are stylistic commonalities.

Although Hendricks associates the White Corner with Legg, it, also known at the Breyman Block, was an old building originating in 1874, and it is difficult to place it on a reasonable timeline with Legg. The two buildings (here and here) were remodeled in the late 1940s, after Legg had died. It's not clear what this means.

Legg also designed residences. At least two are known. He is responsible for the John Minto bungalow of 1922 and the Cusick mansion of 1911.

Legg died November 2, 1941.

His own home at 1499 State St. was demolished for a medical clinic.

After his death, his buildings were were no stranger to fire. The Salem Bank of Commerce, also known as the Guardian building, burned in 1947. The Murphy block, home to McMahan's Furniture, and earlier where Legg had his offices, burned in 2006. And, of course, Pierce cottage just burned.

Legg's reputation has been neglected - if not exactly "burned," too. As this list shows, there are tons of handsome, if not quite first-rate, buildings of his remaining, but few of them are called out as designed by Legg. As I think about Legg's buildings, I think especially of his rooflines, cornices, and in general the edges of his buildings. I like the way his buildings meet the air and sky, and meet other buildings. Perhaps in another note we can touch more on his style - or perhaps readers with shrewder eyes and a better sense of architectural history can comment on Legg's style and favorite moves.

Even if his style is not first-rate like that of Knighton or Lawrence, surely it is the kind of second-rate that is never cheap and often with time wears better than the flourishes of a more original mind. There are so many block faces in downtown with a Legg on it! Legg deserves to be remembered better than through fire and loss! Tip your next pint to Frederick Legg and his legacy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bottled Beer is Better than Boiled Water! Advertising in the face of Typhoid

Just after the typhoid scare of Christmas 1909, on January 1st, 1910, the Salem Brewing Association ran an advert specifically touting the safety of Salem Beer.

It's a bit fear-mongery. Untreated tap water was dangerous; at the same time, the brewery might benefit financially from scared people who might consider beer as the safest alternative to tap water.

It doesn't make Mayor Lachmund's decision to veto municipalizing the water supply look very good. The ad really makes it look like it was truly possible that brewers and hopsgrowers would feel a pure source of tapwater might threaten their beer sales, however compromised by crappy water the beer might be. If you mask it with enough hops, few would notice.

While I still haven't found any direct evidence for a Lachmund conspiracy against pure water, there's certainly a suggestive penumbral shadow.

In the face of growing sentiment for Prohibition, the ad is also direct about the sensory allure of beer - the lively prickle from carbonation and the "stick" from alcohol.

Moreover, the ad's themes cast an interesting light on early advertising: local boosterism, quasi-scientific precision, the reasonableness of the flattering confidence-man, and the commercial preference for selling a product - consumerist progress - instead of investing in solutions - infrastructure progress. This was politically a mixed time, a transition between the gilded age and the progressive era, and the rhetoric of "progress" looks a bit like "greenwashing" today.

I find it a fascinating document.

The Salem Brewery Association plant for the brewing and bottling of beer and manufacturing of ice is one of Salem's most important industries. During the past five years this business has grown from a very small, old-fashioned brewing plant to one of the most modern enterprises on the coast. The name "Salem Beer" is a familar household term over most of California and Oregon. It has gained enviable reputation throughout this western country and is a welcome beverage in numerous families. Over one million bottles of Salem beer were consumed during the past year. As each bottle is decorated or marked with the trade mark label, showing the beautiful State Capitol building, this fact alone has consequently served as a medium of advertisement for the city of Salem of considerable magnitude and value. Thousands of people know of Salem, as the home of Salem beer.


To meet "a long felt want" of mankind in the form of a mild, carbonated, alcoholic, stimulating, cooling, palatable, refreshing tonic and thirst-quenching drink, the beer of today is the best drink in the world.

Just observe for a moment how beer is made up. First and foremost, about nineteen-twentieths of a glass of beer is just cold water.

Now, cold water "plain" and "straight," which has not been boiled, is a very dangerous drink. Positively hundreds of thousands of poor victims of typhoid fever have been sent to premature graves in these United States by the typhoid germs which are taken into the system almost exclusively from drinking water.
But the water of beer has invariably had all dangerous germs killed out of it by a vigorous two hours' boil. If we were to drink this boiled water straight, the remedy would be worse than the disease; for of all "flat, stale and unpalatable" drinks, boiled water, deprived by boiling of its natural content of sparkling air, is the flattest. But, in the case of beer, here comes plenty of carbonic acid gas to put new life into the boiled water. The process of fermentation cuts up the sugar of the beer wort into a little alcohol and , by bulk, a good deal of carbonic acid gas. So, then, we have so far found in our beer the two constituents, water and carbonic acid gas, which together make "plain soda water," neither more nor less; and then we find that our fermentation has given us also a little alcohol, about one-twentieth part of the whole, so that now our glass of beer is simply a glass of "soda water" with a "stick" in it.

And yet, without this little dash of alcohol, beer would not be beer at all, beer would not be used at all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beck's Bock Boosts Brewery in 1901

Just as today, in April and May a century ago, beer lovers eagerly awaited their bock beer! And in the spring of 1901, the Capital Brewery had special reason to promote it.

Pre-Prohibition brewing was a lot more like contemporary craft brewing than you'd think. Mid-century brewing habituated us to watered-down industrial lager. But as we saw with the prospect of Westacott's strong ale that workers on Minto's property found in 1909, early brewers made a range of beers. Bock beers were a springtime seasonal, often originally made by monks as carb-rich "liquid bread" that powered them through Lenten austerities.

Here's an ad for Klinger & Beck's bock in 1901.

The Capital Brewery's Famous Bock will be on draught in all Salem and country saloons on and after

APRIL 6, 1901

Try it and be happy. It's the best ever turned out. We also put up our Bock Beer in bottles.


Inheritance and estate transfer at the turn of the last century was no easier then than today.

Two years before the ad appeared, on April 25th, 1899, Seraphin Beck died. Settling his estate appears to have taken at least two years and came at the cost of dissolving the Klinger & Beck partnership
Seraphim Beck, of the Capital Brewery, Passes Away

After being more or less incapacitated for transaction of business for several years Seraphim Beck, a full partner in the Salem brewing firm of Klinger & Beck, died at his home on South Twenty-fifth street at 7 o'clock Thursday evening, aged 48 years.

Deceased was born in Alsace-Lorraine in 1851. When 21 years of age he came to the United State, locating in Chicago. After a two year's residence at Denver, he came to Oregon in 1875. In August, 1877, he associated himself with Mr. Klinger, in the brewing of beer, in which he has since engaged.

He married in January, 1878, to Miss Maggie Neibert, who survives him. He leaves two children a son and a daughter, viz. Joseph aged 16 years and Leona, aged 7 years.

The deceased was an industrious business man, of a quiet and unassuming disposition. He was a man of the highest integrity.

The funeral will be held in St. Joseph's Catholic church Thursday at 10 o'clock. Burial will take place in the Catholic cemetery, south of this city. The funeral cortege leaves the house soon after 9 o'clock.

Deceased leaves quite a large property to his wife and children by will.

The Catholic cemetery is St. Barbara's on Liberty Road and Missouri in south Salem. (Beck's headstone here and detail here.) Interestingly, a partial survey of the graves suggests a cluster of Germanic brewers in Salem. The list shows Beck buried near a Mrs. Mary Eckerlen. Mrs. Eckerlen was also from Alsace-Lorraine, and perhaps the family knew the Becks. Further, there was an Eckerlin Saloon, and E. Eckerlin was one of the partners in the 1903 Salem Brewery Association. Even with the vowel switch (easily explained in the unstable orthography), just how many Eckerlins could there be in Salem? More research to come!

Two years after the death, the brewery advertised the bock beer. It turns out this was just a month before putting up the brewery for sale.1

In May, 1901, Beck's widow bought the brewery and cashed out Klinger.

At 2 o'clock this afternoon, Tilmon Ford and B. F. Bonham, referees, sold the Capital Brewery plant and other property of the Klinger & Beck partnership, in order that the settlement of the business in the interest of the heir of S. Beck deceased, might be effected. The sale included the brewery plant, fixtures, etc, lots 3, 4, 5 and a portion of lot 6 of block 35, Salem; the north 1/2 of lot 5, block 36 Gervais, and two promessory notes of $800 and $425 respectively.
The bidding began with an offer of $17,000 by M. Klinger, and at 3 o'clock was bid in by Mrs. Margaret Beck for $30,000. M. Klinger bought the Gervais property at $325.
Another account references the sale as having occurred in Dallas, with some Dallas property also in the estate and sold.

Here's a photo of Maurice Klinger from the Oregon State Library collection. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a photo of Beck.

Whether the bock continued to be brewed I don't know. I'll try to find out that as well. But here is at least one instance of a specialty seasonal brewed and advertised almost as they are today!

1I haven't verified that the advertising occurred yearly; it's possible this was a one-off in order to boost cash-flow for the brewery's sale. But I believe it's most likely the beer was a yearly seasonal and that the advertising would be similarly seasonal. It is "famous" and the "best ever," both of which suggest repetition and expectation. Maybe this is untrue advertising hype, but I just don't think so. While it's possible one of the partners sought to boost sales artificially, that would seem likely to interfere with an orderly process of cashing out. I will confirm.