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Oregon Heritage Reflects on 2020

January 8, 2021

To say this has been an unprecedented year would be an understatement. Typically in our end of year message we would summarize the highlights, include several statistics and numbers, and celebrate all the heritage efforts accomplished this year by all of you. In short, it would be a message filled with positivity and cheer. To not acknowledge the challenges we have all faced this year personally and professionally would be remiss of us. While positivity may seem in short supply these days, we cannot express how much we admire each and every one of you for how you are weathering the storms that have come rolling through 2020 and will continue into 2021. This year made it so clear to us the value of heritage resources and the importance of a statewide heritage network to support each other during these turbulent times.

Upon reflection of the past year, Oregon Heritage staff has learned a lot about responding to emergencies and the importance of preparation, how to navigate the fine line of celebrating wins while respecting those that have lost so much, and how to continue serving all of you the best we can while managing working from home, layoffs, and travel restrictions that forced us to move our technical assistance online.

With that said, here are some of our observations, resources, responses, pivots and steps forward for preservation efforts in Oregon from 2020:

Disaster Response & Recovery

  • Commiserating during an ongoing crisis is an important step in dealing with the crisis. This was made clear during the 5 COVID-19 commiseration calls we initiated to help folks not feel alone when managing their organization during the crisis. Topics included event pivots such as Preservation Month events in May, reopening, inclusivity, and the value of heritage organizations.
  • Oregon Heritage and our partners, including the Oregon Cultural Trust, Nonprofit Association of Oregon, Oregon Community Foundation, Cultural Advocacy Coalition, State Library, State Archives, and more, came together to ensure heritage organizations received support throughout COVID-19 & wildfire response.
  • SHPO coordinated with FEMA, State agencies and tribes in response to the wildfires.
  • We developed a COVID-19 resource page and a wildfire response and recovery page that combined have been accessed over 1700 times. While the reason these pages were developed are disheartening, the fact that these resources will exist for the future will help us respond faster and better. And we kicked off our Oregon Heritage Bulletin Resilience Series.
  • Last year we launched a pilot project in Cottage Grove that wrapped up this year and resulted in a guidebook and videos for Community Disaster Resilience Planning for Heritage Resources. While we knew when we initiated the project a year ago that it would be important, we did not realize how quickly it would become important in the face of the wildfires this year.

Value of Heritage

Main Street

  • initiated weekly calls to help support each other and the ongoing pandemic crisis they were seeing in their downtowns. In addition, OMS partnered with Washington Main Street to schedule periodic, topical conversations between local executive directors in our respective states.
  • pivoted during the holidays to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Preservation & Documentation

  • The Oregon Heritage Commission released the 2020-2025 Oregon Heritage Plan as a call to action, deviating from traditional plans. It outlines 4 goals that are important to the Commission and asks organizations to join us in working towards them.
  • The Oregon SHPO added 3,163 properties to the inventory of archeological and historic resources, and submitted 14 nominations to the National Parks Service for listing in the National Register of Historic of Historic Places, including the Portland African American Multiple Properties Document, a tool that will help list more properties within that context, and the Darcelle XV property, a site significant for it’s for its role in gaining acceptance for drag and gay rights (see recently listed nominations here).
  • We made steps forward on working on a Depression Era Multiple Properties Document project in addition to receiving a grant from the National Park Service to work on a statewide African American Multiple Properties Document project.
  • Reviewed 44 preservation projects, added 12 properties to the state tax program, reviewed 19 submissions for the federal tax program.
  • With improved tracking for our covenant and Special Assessment programs, we monitored 14 agreements.
  • Working with partners and the public to address National Register rules and the Special Assessment program.
  • We moved a promising partnership forward with the State Library of Oregon and the Washington State Library as we look towards solutions for digitizing collections for Oregon heritage organizations and getting them online.
  • 206 archaeological permits for conducting archaeological investigations in Oregon issued by SHPO archaeologists.

Review & Compliance

  • The SHPO review and compliance team received 2,636 submittals to review for the effects of undertakings on cultural resources. The Oregon SHPO provides assistance to agencies whose projects are subject to state and federal historic preservation laws.
  • Sent 2,451 responses to inquiries from federal and state agencies and private organizations and individuals regarding compliance with federal and state laws.

Some of the things we are looking forward to in the new year include the 2021 Oregon Heritage Virtual Summit on Collaboration and Oregon Main Street Conference in Klamath Falls, awarding the 2021 Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards and the 2021 Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Awards, seeking and receiving nominations for the National Register of Historic Resources that support our priorities laid out in our Preservation Plan, and finding creative and impactful ways to assist organizations and reminding them of the value they provide to their communities.

While we understand that challenges will continue on into 2021, please know that we will continue to do our best to help you navigate these challenges.

Thank you for all that you do and please stay strong.

Breaking Down Barriers: Museums For All Initiative

December 11, 2020

Recently the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) had a webinar giving an overview of the Museums For All initiative that started in 2014. Oregon Heritage staff sat in on the webinar as this program supports Goal 2 of the 2020-2025 Oregon Heritage Plan: Increase Access to Heritage.

Museums For All expands access to museums by offering free or reduced admission to those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits). Over 500 museums participate in this program to help breakdown barriers in their community and encourage museum life-long learning opportunities in underserved communities. The program provides to museums the structure and the tools to implement the program locally. Currently, 13 museums in Oregon are a part of the program. Find participating museums here.

For those wondering about the impact the program has had on participating museums, you can check out a 2018 evaluation of the program. According to those leading the webinar, it was reported that there were no overall deficits and often times it can be a revenue generator.

With the upcoming 2021 Oregon Heritage Summit, collaboration is on our mind so when the organizers of the Museums For All program mentioned “Hub Cities”, our ears perked up. Hub cities have three or more participating museums in the program. Museums For All encourages these Hub Cities to work together to leverage the program in the community through shared marketing, partnering with other community resources such as local food banks and transportation authorities, building trust with the community and local museums, and more. There was a Hub City Convening in 2018 and the resulting report from that offers some other ideas as to how these museums can collaborate together to leverage the Museums For All program. Program coordinators mentioned they are also developing some more tools and resources for Hub Cities. Eugene and Portland are current Hub Cities in Oregon.

If you are interested in collaboration with organizations in your community, especially during recovery from the pandemic, consider joining Oregon Heritage in April for the 2021 Summit: Collaboration is Key! We will have panel discussions exploring successes and challenges of partnerships and a workshop on types of collaboration opportunities and how to have a sustainable/successful process as your organization approaches collaboration in order to accomplish its mission and goals. Registration will open in February and we hope to see you there!

Oregon’s historic Main Streets pivot for the holidays

November 25, 2020

Written by Sheri Stuart, Oregon Main Street Coordinator

Downtown Roseburg

Downtown McMinnville

While the holiday season may look a little different this year, our Oregon Main Street communities are finding ways to celebrate and create lasting memories while keeping your health and well-being at the forefront of their plans. Many community holiday traditions have been paused or reinvented, while others worked on created new activities. Some of the things happening across our broad Main Street Network include:

  • Lakeview Community Partnership’s Small Business Saturday activities include ornaments hidden throughout downtown businesses. If you find the ornament, you receive a big bucket of popcorn from the Alger Theater plus extra goodies provided by businesses. In addition, businesses are hosting a home-based business at their location to give them more visibility and consumers more opportunities.
  • Reedsport Main Street worked with volunteers to decorate planters with holly and greens to create a more inviting presence and will move their traditional tree lighting as a virtual event that will be livestreamed on FaceBook (@reedsportmainstreet).
  • La Grande Main Street received a small grant from a local business to help boost holiday decorations, especially re-lighting the Christmas tree.
  • Klamath Falls Downtown Association is helping keep the Snowflake Festival alive after the community needed to cancel the much beloved parade. They encouraged business owners to create their own individual events which they are marketing over a two-week period and also supporting a window decorating contest to spread a little holiday cheer.
  • Historic Willamette is continuing a decorated wreath contest to spread camaraderie among businesses and have also received approval to continue their holiday bazaar by spreading it out over multiple evenings rather than one and hosting as an outdoor vs indoor event.
  • McMinnville Downtown Association is hosting a 12 Weeks of Christmas campaign that features weekly cash give-aways, a children’s scavenger hunt, gift with purchase offered by select retail participants, a men’s shopping night will be sponsored in mid-December, and a holiday window display contest will be launched Thanksgiving weekend. 
  • Gold Beach Main Street is hosting a community lighting competition and will also be doing a drive-by Santa activity to ensure appropriate social distancing while sharing good will.
  • Hillsboro Downtown Partnership is coordinating Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Discover Downtown Sunday activities to support local, independent businesses. They also adapted their Holly Days Celebration as a virtual Treelighting and Entertainment event coupled with downtown shopping opportunities.

Regardless of whether a business is located in one of our Main Street districts, your continued support is essential. Last week, Gov. Kate Brown announced the launch of the “Give the Gift of Oregon” campaign, part of a comprehensive effort to support local businesses statewide in challenging times. “Oregon’s businesses are the backbone of our communities and our economy, and I am encouraging all Oregonians to shop locally this holiday season,” Brown said. “Strengthening our economy starts here at home. Here’s a link to Travel Oregon’s website GivetheGiftofOregon . Featured businesses and gift ideas are featured on its website. The campaign also highlights the Oregon Wine Board’s The Giving Season efforts, as well as the Built Oregon Marketplace, an online platform that provides consumers with an opportunity to discover products from Oregon makers.

On a personal note, I am so grateful for all the efforts of our local main street organizations, local governments, and citizens who rallied to assist local businesses either by connecting businesses with resources and information, adapting marketing and events, relaxing rules and providing financial support, or patronizing businesses through curbside pick-ups, go-fund me campaigns, online shopping, or in-store visits when allowed. To everyone who stepped up to support businesses, you made a difference. While there have been a few downtown business closures, these have been fewer than anticipated. Each closure is a heartbreak, but I am grateful for those who have been able to forge forward. And, many of our districts are reporting new businesses opening. These folks give me hope.

Protecting two cemeteries in the path of a fire

November 19, 2020

Written by Tony Saunders, Bureau of Land Management Archaeologist

Image courtesy of Bureau of Land Management.

That’s why the wins you do get feel so good.

It may be obvious, but wildfires are chaotic things.  And in spite of countless organization charts, plans, and alternative procedures, the efforts to combat those fires are equally chaotic.  Decisions in the initial attack phase are made at a thousand miles per hour.  As a Resource Advisor, someone who advocates for the various natural, economic, and cultural resources that may be impacted by both the fire and fire suppression, it is a challenge to simply keep apace of all the decisions being made and how they affect the resources.  You’re frequently playing catch up, only hearing about a resource after it has been impacted.  It’s not a job that offers many wins.

Image courtesy of Bureau of Land Management.

That’s why the wins you do get feel so good. As the Slater Fire was advancing its way north past the Oregon-California Border, no one knew where or when we would be able to stop it.  Square in the path of the fire were two important heritage sites; the Allentown and Waldo Cemeteries.  Both sites are in heavily forested areas that were vulnerable to fire.  Fortunately, Resource Advisors from the BLM and the Forest Service were available to mitigate the risk to these sites.  Going out ahead of the fire, archaeologists were able to structurer wrap the headstones at these two cemeteries, protecting headstones that date back to the 1860’s. 

Waldo and Allentown were some of the first towns in Oregon.  Dating back to 1852, these sites were early boom towns tied to the gold rush.  At one point, Waldo was the county seat of Josephine County.  The towns were abandoned after the gold rush petered out in southern Oregon, and the cemeteries are all that remains of these two towns. 

As of this writing, the two cemeteries are safe from the fire.  Both are on public lands and available for public viewing, but visitors are advised to stay away from the area until it is deeped safe by authorities.  

Archives Month: #Askanarchivist

October 29, 2020

October is National Archives Month and we wanted to give it one last shout out before the month ends. One of the national events that is done to bring awareness and understanding to the importance of archives is #askanarchivist day. This year it was held on Oct. 7. We thought we would gather a few of the questions that were asked for your enjoyment.

The first one is from Oregon’s very own Oregon Hop and Brewing Archives, part of Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center. It was established in 2013 and is the first in the United States dedicated to the story of brewing in the Northwest.  They followed up to the question “How do you make a beer archive?” with a blog article detailing the story of how this archive was created. Check it out here.

Another important question that we think is pretty relevant is: “What is the difference between digitization and digital preservation?” This was asked of the UTA Archives.

Just scanning something is not preserving it. Thoughtfully and with a plan, digitizing something with the intent and a specific process in place will preserve that piece of history for the future. Check out our Heritage Bulletins for information on digitization: Bulletin #21 Planning a Digitization Project, Bulletin #22 Implementing a Digitization Project, and Bulletin #23 Digital Stewardship and Curation.

Bringing it back to Oregon, check out the compact shelving work being done at the Oregon State Archives! If you don’t already, we highly recommend you follow our friend and partner Oregon State Archives on twitter (@OregonArchives) and Facebook (@OregonStateArchives). They always have really great Oregon history to share.

If you want to see a variety of questions, Smithsonian Archives did a recap on their blog. Check it out here to learn a lot about archives in one place.

And just for fun, if you are looking for something to watch related to history check out this thread featuring movie recommendations related to archives 🙂 . Feel free to add your favorite movie involving archives in the comments!

Oregon Archaeology Highlight: Native American Ethnographic Basketry Digitization Project

October 22, 2020

Written by Pamela Endzweig and Elizabeth Kallenbach, University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History

Woven by Pat Courtney Gold

Basket weaving is a traditional craft with ancient roots in North America. Today, Indigenous People continue to make basketry for food gathering, preparation, and storage, clothing, baby cradles, carrying containers, use in ceremonies and celebrations, and as works of art. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History cares for an outstanding and unique collection of ethnographic baskets from the Far West, made by Native weavers from the Aleutians to New Mexico. While a number of items are on public display at the museum, much of this large and fragile collection is housed behind the scenes, in state-of-the-art vaults that ensure their safety and long-term preservation.

Woven by Emma Adams

In order to share this important collection with audiences around the world, the museum recently launched an online, searchable database featuring more than 1900 baskets representing the basketry of  diverse peoples and cultures from the 1800s to the present. About half of the baskets are from the Pacific Northwest (Northwest Coast, Arctic, and Subarctic), a quarter are from the Columbia-Fraser Plateau, and 13 percent are from California. Smaller numbers come from the Great Basin, Southwest, and Northeast, while a few others are of undetermined origin. More than a third are from Oregon, including 380 from west of the Cascades. While many of the baskets are more than a century old, we continue to acquire modern pieces, as funds allow, to showcase contemporary Native American artists. We are delighted to report nearly 200 searches of the database since its launch six weeks ago—a testament to the public interest in these significant objects and the cultural traditions they reflect.

Woven by Jennie Michelle

With its final phases supported by a 2019 Oregon Museum Grant, the Native American Ethnographic Basketry Database project directly serves the program’s objectives of collecting, preserving, interpreting, and promoting the collective history of Oregon for all. It also furthers the museum’s mission of enhancing knowledge of Earth’s environment and cultures and inspiring stewardship of our collective past, present, and future. We deeply appreciate Oregon Heritage Commission’s support in bringing the database to life and we are delighted to invite the public to explore it.

The Value of Heritage: Saving a “treasure of the McKenzie”

October 2, 2020

Here at Oregon Heritage we talk about the value of heritage A LOT. We understand and the people who help preserve Oregon’s heritage understand, but it’s getting entire communities to understand they value it, they just don’t know it.

The value to communities is evident in the the downtown restaurant people choose because it’s in a cool historic building, it’s the drive people take in the fall to see the historic covered bridges surrounded by fall colors, it’s the majestic barn in the field that they stop on the side of the road to take a picture of, it’s the crowds of people who attend annual heritage tradition event, and so much more.

Most recently, the value has become evident during the devastating wildfires with the heroic efforts community members and firefighters have taken to purposely save historic places that are important to the community.

Once such story is that of the Goodpasture Bridge, a historic covered bridge in Vida that at one point was surrounded by the Holiday Farm fire. Even as we write this, that fire is still not 100% contained. Five firefighters, initially skeptical they could save it, rushed to the bridge and covered it with protective foam as the fire approached. Dave Breitenstein, one of the five that rushed to the bridge’s defense took a moment to take a video of this effort while the fire raged around them.

KEZI ran a story on this effort and included the video shot by Dave Breitenstein. You can view the article and the news piece here:

In an interview with KEZI Capt. David Sherwood, one of the crew involved, really speaks to the value of this historic place to the community: “It is a treasure of the McKenzie. The importance of it I think will ring true for many years to come because if  it’s standing now. I just hope people can use that as a symbol of inspiration to continue to be in this community,” (

Let’s take a few moments to celebrate the places that survived, but acknowledge was has been lost. More will be revealed in the next few months as the damage is assessed. These places have long stood in the background and now, in some cases, will be in the forefront as the remaining cornerstones to rebuild these devasted communities.

Thank you to the firefighters and community members that saw value in these important places and for the heroic measures taken to save them.

If you are doing historic preservation work and looking to craft value of heritage messages to your community, check out the Value of Heritage Toolkit.

Highlights, Challenges, and Visioning from Retired State Archaeologist Dennis Griffin

September 3, 2020

Dennis Griffin served as the State Archaeologist with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office for the last 18 years. He retired at the end of August and we took the opportunity to ask him what the highlights and challenges were of his time at the Oregon SHPO and also what he believes is the future of protecting Oregon’s archaeology sites.

What were some of the highlights of your time working at the Oregon SHPO?

When I first started at the Oregon SHPO, archaeologists wanting to conduct research using our records had to schedule an appointment to come into our office to access paper USGS maps to discover where all of our known archaeological sites were located and to get access to hard copy reports and site forms that were in our library. Since that time we have scanned over 32,000 reports and 43,000 site forms and they are all available to qualified researchers on-line when ever they need them. While the earlier process enabled our staff an opportunity to meet and get to know many of the archaeologists working in our state, on-line access to our data greatly improved ready access to this information which reduced damage to sites while saving time and expense in freeing up agency staff from having to travel to Salem to conduct project reviews.

A big highlight for me was seeing our office’s archaeological staff enlarged from that of a single archaeologist to a staff consisting of up to four archaeologists which allowed our office to increase our review and compliance of project related reports and issue state archaeology permits in a more timely manner, to increase our opportunity to reach out to the public to help them understand the history of our state and the importance of our archaeological resources, and to work with and encourage good cultural resource stewardship among state and federal agencies, and the public.

My job as the State Archaeologist at SHPO for the past 18 years provided me with the opportunity to work closely with each of our state’s nine federally-recognized tribes as they developed and expanded tribal cultural heritage departments and established their own tribal historic preservation office.  The opportunity to communicate and consult with each of the tribes in a wide variety of venues, such as the state’s government-to-government Culture Cluster and Intergovernmental Culture Resource Council (ICRC), and to collaborate on projects throughout the state has been a major reward to me.

Our office has taken a major step forward during the years that I have been fortunate to work at SHPO toward increasing public outreach opportunities and providing education regarding our state’s history and resources. These have included increased grant opportunities which provides funding for both public and private historic preservation work, the building of a strong community of Certified Local Governments and a very active Main Street Program, the development of heritage bulletins that increase awareness of cultural resources and historic cemeteries, and the coordinating of heritage workshops across the state, including SHPOlooza, an event we put together that provides an opportunity for archaeologists and archaeologically-oriented people in the state to get together to talk about what is working and what needs to be tweaked so that our office can better serve the public interest. These all have served as major highlights during my tenure.

What were some of the challenges?

One of the major challenges I have seen since starting at Oregon SHPO is being able to stay abreast of the many changes in archaeological technologies that are being developed and to be able to suggest and encourage their use as they relate to future projects. Remote sensing technologies have greatly expanded since I first started at SHPO and they offer us many new ways to try and incorporate non-destructive methods to identify the presence of archaeological sites and features without spending thousands of dollars, so that if a site is found to be within a project area and it can not be avoided, money can be spent where it will do the most good to mitigate any adverse effect that will occur to the site. The recognition of the importance of underwater archaeology in Oregon also has brought us a challenge to see where such technologies are best applicable. During my tenure our office has drafted state guidelines for both conducting field archaeology in Oregon and for reporting on such efforts so that the results will be applicable to other projects in the future. While the drafting of guidelines, where before there were none, is always a challenge, keeping such guidelines relevant to our discipline and and applicable to the projects that occur in Oregon will continue to be both an opportunity and a challenge for our office.

What do you envision for the future of protecting Oregon’s archaeological sites?

The future protection of archaeological sites in Oregon directly stem from the challenges that we now face. The most important thing that we as a state, and SHPO as an agency dedicated to historic preservation faces is the need for an increase in public education and stewardship. If the public does not recognize  the importance of archaeology,  the recognition and protection of archaeological sites in the future will not occur. I think that archaeology needs to be introduced into our classrooms so that people will learn about the importance of our history, and the archaeological sites that remain to provide evidence of our past. Only through such early education can we hope to combat the looting that continues to occur to sites across the state, and increase the awareness of archaeology to the public and the importance of site stewardship. I think our office can provide a leading voice to encourage such an increase in educational awareness through our future grant opportunities, workshops,  bulletins, meetings and public outreach. Only about 14% of Oregon has been archaeologically surveyed to date, and these lands are predominantly managed by federal agencies (e.g., USFS, BLM). The majority of lands that would have been most attractive to human use and settlement over the past 15,000+ year history are now under private ownership. Likewise the majority of major Native American sites are probably located on private land and have yet to be recognized as such. Through education and stewardship we may be able to identify more of the important sites that still exist in Oregon and gain their protection by encouraging the public to become site stewards by offering their protection of such sites.

On a different front, I see the future offering us much in the way of the development and use of new non-destructive technologies for site identification and protection. I look forward to seeing what will be developed in this regard.

What’s next???

For me, the first thing I hope to do is to learn to sleep in and enjoy some free time catching up on reading, music and some writing projects that have been on the back burner for far to long. I recently purchased a small van that is being converted to a camper and I will need to head back to the mid-west to pick it up and drive it back to Oregon, which means a road-trip is in my near future which I find both exciting and a bit scary given the pandemic. 

I have a number of personal projects focusing on Oregon history and archaeology that I hope to follow up on over the next couple of years which should put my van to good use crisscrossing across the state visiting archives, historical societies and tribal offices while I put my research and writing skills to work. I also hope to do a little consulting work which will provide me an opportunity to stay abreast of research that is occurring within Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. A number of years ago I formed a private consulting company called Cultural Horizons for when I would do consulting work in Alaska. I hope to be able to use this company to work on small projects in our region and continue finding opportunities to consult and work with the tribal nations in our state.

Thanks Dennis for all of your work helping to protect Oregon’s important archaeological resources!

Black Historic Places Matter

July 13, 2020

By: Kimberly Moreland, Oregon Black Pioneers, Oregon Heritage Commission

The recent approval of the National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation (MPD) of Portland’s African American Resources and the National Register nomination for Billy Webb Elk Lodge (Williams Avenue YWCA) marks a significant milestone towards more inclusive historic preservation efforts. Produced in partnership between the Bosco-Milligan Foundation: Architectural Heritage Center and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Sustainability, with assistance from the State Historic Preservation Office, the MPD represents a comprehensive architectural and cultural study of the African American community in Portland from 1851 to 1973. 

The late Cathy Galbraith, the founding director of the Bosco-Milligan: Architectural Heritage Center, in her seminal work, entitled the Cornerstone of Community: Buildings of Portland’s African American History, began an enormous effort of identifying African American historic buildings. Building on Galbraith’s work and others, the MPD serves as a National Register of Historic Places umbrella document that make it easier for individual property owners to list their property in the National Register.  

The MPD and National Register Nomination are preservation tools that provide an opportunity to connect Black history makers to the places where they lived, played, worshiped, and conducted business. In addition, preservation tools can provide a level of protection for Black historic properties that are experiencing deferred maintenance and/or threatened by real estate development pressures. Home Forward recently named their flagship affordable housing project after a Black woman named Louisa Matilda Thacker Flowers. As the new building was being constructed, her home built in 1885 and located at 1815 NE 1st in the Eliot Neighborhood was being deconstructed and demolished.

Born in Massachusetts, Louisa Matilda Thacker arrived in Portland in 1882 when she married Allen Ervin (A.E.) Flowers, a farmer and single father of Hattie Ann Flowers. Born in 1847 in Columbus Ohio, A.E. Flowers, arrived in Portland in 1865 as a cabin boy aboard the Brother Jonathon Ship. While docked in Portland, Allen jumps ship and began his life in Oregon. The Flowers were civic leaders and they had four sons (Lloyd, Elmer, Ralph and Ervin) and owned several homes in lower Albina, that was formerly part of the city of Albina, and what is now known as the Eliot Neighborhood.

Louisa Flowers was an active member of the Old Rose Club, an early Black women club.  Unprecedented for a Black woman at the time, Louisa is documented in the Morning Oregonian as purchasing land in 1901 and 1902. The couple owned acreage of farmland in Mount Scott in the Lents area and the farm became a gathering place for Portland’s small, black community.  In 1913, serving as president and secretary of the home ownership association, A.E Flowers, and E.D. Cannady, organized a lecture by Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute. Washington spoke to an audience of 500 people at the Gipsy Smith Auditorium, urging Black Portlanders to invest in farmland to take advantage of the influx of newcomers to Portland.

The Flowers’ remarkable legacy is just one example of the resiliency of Black history makers who thrived under the backdrop of Black exclusion laws that infamously adorned the Oregon constitution until 1926. Over years, due to many factors, many of the inventory of historic buildings that reveals the triumphs, struggles, culture, and religious and social life of Black Portlanders have disappeared. Black Historic Places Matter! Let us protect the remainder of Black historic places in Portland that quietly stand tall, waiting to cultivate a more restorative and inclusive understanding of Portland’s history.

Oregon’s First Registered Nurse

July 1, 2020

By: Bev Power, City of Medford Parks and Recreation

Mrs. Olivia Dyre Osborne graduated the Illinois Training School for Nurses in 1892 under her maiden name of Dyre.  She was one of 46 graduates that year, the largest class that had ever graduated the school. The graduation ceremony heralded Florence Nightingale as a model of high standards in nursing.

Later, Olivia and her husband John Osborne arrived in Medford from Chicago. It was through Olivia’s efforts that the state law governing the registration of nurses was passed. Subsequently, on October, 19, 1911 she became the first registered nurse in Oregon.  She served on the Board from 1911 to 1923 and was elected the first president, serving in that capacity until 1918.

During the early years much was accomplished, the curriculum was revised, and entrance requirements raised, thus all applicants had to be high school graduates. It was through state legislation that the period of training was raised from two years to three years, and all schools not meeting the new requirements were closed.

It was through Mrs. Osborne’s initiative that the nurses registration at Medford, Oregon was established, which she directed. She passed away in 1942 and is interred at the Medford Eastwood/I.O.O.F. Cemetery.

Information obtained via

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote. For the Centennial, Oregon Heritage is sharing stories of notable women in Oregon’s history. For ideas on how to research women’s history in your community, visit and refer to our Centennial Vote Planning Guide.