Skip to content

Oregon archaeological group educates public, promotes activities

June 27, 2016

One of this year’s recipients of an Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards is 65 years old and at that age could be retiring. Instead, the Oregon Archaeological Society is bursting with activity to educate the public about archaeology, advance archaeological knowledge and support the preservation of historic and prehistoric resources.

The society was founded in 1951 as important Native American sites were about to be flooded by The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River.

In the early days, some OAS members were often more interested in amassing personal collections of artifacts. However, in 1974 it adopted a code of ethics by which any member participating in excavation activities for personal gain would be expelled. A year later, it proposed legislation calling for an official state organization to administer site registration and permit process.

Today, it has a wide range of activities. It offers a six-week basic archaeological training, field trips, and speakers at monthly meetings. The speaker in April was the newest appointed member of the Heritage Commission, Chelsea Rose, who talked about her work in Jacksonville.


The OAS has long-term partnerships with federal agencies.

The Society has also entered into long-term partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to assist their activities. It publishes scientific reports and a monthly newsletter, and offers scholarships and grants to students, schools, and projects.

It is also participates in Portland State University’s Archaeology Roadshow, the Northwest Anthropological Conference, and other professional meetings.
In recognition of its decades of work educating the public about archaeology, preserving cultural resources, and advancing archaeological knowledge, the Oregon Archaeological Society was presented an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.

Benton County preservation projects boosted by B.A. Beierle’s work

June 20, 2016

B.A. Beierle has been a tireless promoter of historic resources in Benton County, including organizing tours.

If you look at most of the major preservation projects during the past 10 years in Corvallis, one name keeps popping up: B.A. Beierle [pronounced Buy Early].

Since she began monitoring Corvallis and Benton County public bodies with authority over historic resources more than 13 years, Beierle has taken on many important projects.

Many of these projects have involved PreservationWORKS, which she founded in 2003. PreservationWORKS is one of a handful of local nonprofit preservation groups in Oregon.

With her leadership PreservationWORKS has coordinated Preservation Month activities, develop tours, coordinated an architectural history conference, prepared the city’s successful Preserve America application, and coordinated the Corvallis Neighborhood Photo Survey.

This photo survey involved 60 volunteers canvassing more than 2,500 structures and took 6,000 images across 952 acres in an area surrounding the Oregon State University. This is an area straining to maintain its livability.


Beierle has supported the Whiteside Theatre project.

Beierle, who was presented an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award last month, has also served on numerous community advisory and preservation groups, including the historic Whiteside Theatre, which reopened sooner than anticipated because of her leadership.

Beierle is working with parks and recreation partners to preserve the Knotts Owen farmstead into a place where urban children can learn about the historic agricultural landscape. And she’s played an important role in saving and preserving the Gorman House, the oldest house known to have been built by black pioneers in Oregon.

One supporter wrote in the Heritage Excellence Award nomination that Beierle “has entirely redefined our community’s notions of what can be done in the realm of historic resources. She is never satisfied with simply repeating successful events, and her ongoing development of new collaborations will keep bearing fruit for many years.”

McBee 1896

Beierle digs into a new project.

Digital newspaper collection adds pages, titles and newer papers; collects award

June 7, 2016


Morning Astorian

Historic English and Finnish language newspapers from Astoria are included in the Oregon Digital Newspaper Collection. The Toveritar was also unusual in that it was written and edited by women.

Ten years ago, the University of Oregon Libraries were at a turning point. They had served for more than half century as the official repository for the state’s newspapers and accumulated hundreds of newspaper titles. Many had been microfilmed. But microfilming was becoming expensive and the public was beginning to demand online digitized newspapers.

Out of that moment came the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program.

Since going live in December 2010, the Oregon Digital Newspapers website has drawn more than 6.6 million views from more than 350,000 visitors in 196 countries. The site currently hosts more than 140 titles from more than 60 cities across Oregon.

Monmouth Herald

Organizations in the Monmouth-Independence area joined together to provide funding for digitization of their community newspapers.

The website contains more than 740,000 pages of content. The newspapers are primarily from the period before 1923 due to copyright restrictions. These include the state’s first agricultural and African American newspapers.

In addition, by working with two dozen local organizations, governments and businesses it also includes digitized versions of other community newspapers.
Most important, each page is word searchable.

The Oregon Digital Newspaper Program is always changing, too. It helped develop the Library of Congress software for viewing digitized newspaper content online. Last year, it began providing digital access to current newspapers as opposed to microfilm access.

With the recent introduction of Common Core standards in K-12 classrooms, the digital newspaper project has increased its outreach to students and teachers with new lesson plans and other educational resources. The project also publishes a blog.

The UOs’s cooperative, ground-breaking efforts to create the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project and increase public access to important historic documents resulted last month in an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.

Last month, program director Sheila Rabun also was interviewed by Jefferson Public Radio


The UO Digital Newspaper Program received an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award last month.

Medford federal building, built amid controversy, celebrates centennial

May 12, 2016
Medford US courthouse 2016 b

The use of non-local bricks created controversy during the construction of the federal courthouse in Medford.

by Rebecca Nielsen, Historic Preservation Program Specialist

One hundred years ago this month, May 8, 1916 to be exact, the Medford Federal Building opened to rave reviews. The Medford Mail Tribune called it “substantial,” “modern,” and “very attractive.” The $110,000 brick American Renaissance Revival style building housed the post office (it moved out in the 1960s), a courtroom, legal offices and chambers, and an office for Crater Lake National Park.

Three days short of its centennial last week the public celebrated the milestone with a noontime courtroom ceremony, speakers and an open house.

There were controversies over building a federal building in Medford. Post office receipts confirmed the city’s rapid growth. Once the funds were appropriated by Congress in 1910, location was a big issue. Residents speculated on which side of the river the government would build. There were complaints during construction about the bricklayers waking people too early, the bricks not being local yellow Willamina bricks, and the stone coming from Auburn, Wash., instead of Oregon. (The original design called for terra cotta instead of stone.)

“Few cities of the size of Medford have a more imposing federal building,” the local paper boasted (although Pendleton had a federal building of the same design completed a few months after Medford). Medford US courthouse 1939

In 1939, an addition to the back of the building was added. It doubled the size of the symmetrical plan with arched windows and stone balustrade and cornice and it cost $230,000.

Today’s building, renamed the James A. Redden U.S. Courthouse in 1997, retains most of its original exterior, and inside you can view the original courtroom. Another historic feature is the recently restored original woodwork and original terrazzo flooring that can be found on the second floor.

For more information visit the website of GSA’s Center for Historic Buildings

Rebecca Nielsen is a historic preservation program specialist with the US General Services Administration.

Medford US courthouse 2016

The U.S. federal building in Medford in 2016.

Prominent Independence building helps with downtown revival

May 10, 2016

This is the first of a series of posts about this year’s Oregon Heritage Excellence Award winners.

Built in 1895, the J.S. Cooper Block is the key architectural feature in Independence’s historic downtown. Its owner was a prominent banker who later became a key figure in the region’s booming hop industry, which eventually led the city of Independence to be named the “hop capital of the world.”

Despite its storied history, a series of remodels replaced the Cooper Block’s historic storefronts with dark, bunker-like walls and windows. Two storefronts were completed bricked over. For many years an absentee landlord declared tenants to be a hassle.

Two years ago that all changed. A local developer Florin Drutu bought the J.S. Cooper Building. With the help of another local developer and Central High School graduate Bodie Bemrose, they began to return the building at Main and C streets it to its glory look.

Using grants from the City of Independence and the State Historic Preservation as well as their own funds, they restored the building’s façade. Brick was repointed, and windows were repaired and restored.

The original steel columns of the C Street storefronts were found, enabling the original storefronts to be replicated. Historic photographs enabled an accurate representation of the Main Street storefront to be created.

Ninety percent of the building’s 30-foot-long , 2-by-12 inch joints had to be replaced with beams that were milled to true 2-by-12 inch dimensions.

Once again, the Cooper Block is alive. The three commercial spaces on the first floor are filling. Apartments and offices on the second floor are filled.

Conference keynotes focus on power, place, commemoration

April 12, 2016

For people who are involved in their heritage or the heritage of their community, words like place, commemoration and power have important meanings. Yet we rarely talk about their significance with each other.

The Oregon Heritage Conference next month will give opportunities to converse about them as two keynote talks and several sessions will address them. The conference’s early bird registration rates end this week, so now is the best time to register and assure your spot in the discussions about these important topics.

Bob Beatty, the chief operating officer of the American Association for State and Local History, will talk about “Commemoration: The Promise of Remembrance and New Beginnings” in his keynote talk on May 5 in the Capitol’s House Chambers. In particular, he will show how it motivates organizations.

Reiko Hillyer, an assistant professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, will talk about “Who Owns History? The Politics of Preservation” in her keynote talk on May 6 in the Capitol’s Senate Chambers. The talk will give perspective on who owns the past, who decides what parts of the past get preserved, and the parts that are forgotten in the process.

Other conference sessions will also deal with these topics. More than 30 workshops, sessions and tours are part of the conference. Be sure to look at the preliminary conference schedule.

Salem: the Capital of Culture

March 30, 2016

From upper left, clockwise: Bush House, Hallie Ford Art Museum at Willamette University, Oregon Capitol, Elsinore Theatre.

By Sarah Pearson

Salem maintains a diverse community of cultural-heritage organizations that add depth, passion, and a sense of belonging to the Capital of Oregon. Salem is the best of town and city, with a growing buzz around the events and programs coming from the array of organizations serving this community.

From deep-set traditions such as the Salem Art Fair and Magic at the Mill to newer programs like Deepwood’s Kid’s EdVentures, Salem’s cultural-heritage organizations reach out and work together to build a stronger community with a deeper connection to history.

Salem supports over 60 cultural heritage non-profits, with many other organizations contributing to the diverse framework of our community.

The Salem Heritage All-Star Forum was founded in 2013 in response to Salem’s designation as a Heritage All-Star Community by the Oregon Heritage Commission. It has worked diligently to foster a sense of collaboration and support for organizations of all sizes.

With amazing City of Salem staff support, the Salem Heritage All-Star Forum has completed significant projects, such as a collaboration handbook, which will serve the cultural-heritage community in the coming years. The Forum has also been working towards thematic packages that will promote visitation to the community.

Our Capital is more than what people expect. With a vibrant historic downtown that includes over a dozen museums, galleries, theatres and attractions, Salem is filled with surprising discoveries that we are passionate about.

The Salem Heritage All-Star Forum is excited to welcome the greater Oregon Heritage community for the 2016 Oregon Heritage conference May 4-7. We hope those visiting, and those who make Salem home, will look around this great place and discover Oregon’s Capital of Culture.

Sarah Pearson is the vice chair of the Salem Heritage All-Star Forum’s steering committee and the museum manager at Deepwood Museum and Gardens.

Uncataloged collection yields historic items; beads returned to family, tribe

March 24, 2016
Return of beeds cropped

Perry Chocktoot, culture and heritage director of the Klamath IndianTribes, (left) shakes hands with Lane County Historical Society director Bob Hart during the transfer of historic beads.

by Heather Kliever

The Daily Eugene Guard on May 17, 1898 printed a list of items that had been placed in the cornerstone of the new Lane County courthouse. Along with the business cards,  miniature boot, and a list of teachers, the inventory included  “part of a necklace worn by ‘Capt Jack’, Modock Indian chief, when he was hung for killing Gen Canby, by R.M. and Bessie Day.”

R.M. Day was an undertaker for the city of Eugene when the placement took place. It is possible that Day attended the  Captain Jack’s hanging on Oct. 3, 1873 and thought the event and souvenir important enough to include in a time capsule 25 years later.

Captain Jack, whose name is Kintpuash, was chief of the Modoc tribe that had been forcibly moved by the U.S. military to live on the neighboring Klamath reservation in southwest Oregon. There was resistance to this move and eventually Captain Jack led a total of 150 people back to their home in the Tule Lake area- 55 were men with the remainder women and children.

When a fight between a soldier and a Modoc warrior took place during surrender negotiations in 1872, Captain Jack and his people moved to the Lava Beds for protection. In April 1873, during a peace commission meeting, Captain Jack and others killed Gen. Edward Canby and Rev. Eleazer Thomas.

Gen. Canby’s successor, Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, whose namesake was the Confederate president in the Civil War,  dispatched 1,000 soldiers to the Lava Beds.  The outnumbered Modoc surrendered on June 1, 1873 with Captain Jack laying down his rifle.

Six Modoc men stood trial and were convicted of war crimes by a jury comprised entirely of military men. Four men, including Captain Jack, were sentenced to be hanged.

More than 2,000 people attended the hanging.White bystanders took souvenirs off of Captain Jack’s body.

Working recently through uncataloged items at the Lane County Historical Society in Eugene, we happened upon Captain Jack’s beads, which had been donated in 1959 to the museum after the demolition of the 1898 courthouse. We immediately called the Klamath Tribes Culture and Heritage Department. The Lane County Historical Society and Museum is honored to announce the return of Captain Jack’s beads to his family and tribal members. Feb. 19, 2016 was truly a day of celebration with the return of the beads!

Heather Kliever is curator of the Lane County Historical Society and Museum and a member of the Oregon Heritage MentorCorps.

Special assessment program offers incentives for preservation, rehab efforts

March 10, 2016


New construction, existing or proposed, is included under the special assessment benefit if deemed compatible to the existing structure by the SHPO or the local government.

by Joy Sears, State Historic Preservation Office

The Special Assessment Program is a state-sponsored incentive program in Oregon instituted in 1975 to encourage the preservation and appropriate rehabilitation of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Under this program a property is specially assessed for a period of 10 years. This allows the owner to restore or improve the condition of the property and not pay additional taxes on the resulting increase in the property’s value until the 10-year benefit period has expired.

What kinds of properties are eligible for this benefit?
The tax benefit is applicable to a property listed, or soon to be listed, in the National Register of Historic Places, or that is deemed historic by the State Historic Preservation Officer. NOTE: Properties deemed eligible for listing by the State Historic Preservation Officer must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places within two years of certification in order to retain the tax benefit.

Properties within National Register-listed districts must be considered contributing to the district in order to be eligible, or otherwise become contributing as a result of rehabilitation through the required preservation plan.

What part of the property does the benefit cover?
The special assessment applies to the entire property (interior and exterior), including any outbuildings that are considered historically contributing, as well as specified parcels of land under and around buildings. New construction, existing or proposed, is included under the benefit if deemed compatible to the existing structure by the SHPO or the local government.

What are the program requirements for the Special Assessment program?
1.  An owner must provide a progress report on the preservation plan in the third, sixth, and ninth years of the benefit. By the end of the fifth year on the program, an owner must expend, at a minimum, 10 percent of the property’s real market value in rehabilitation projects to remain in the program. The value of donated materials, labor, or services may be included in that expenditure.
2.  An owner is required to affix an identification plaque on the property. Plaques are provided by the SHPO.
3.   An owner is required to show proof that the property is insured.
4.  An owner is required to notify the SHPO if the property is sold anytime during the 10-year property tax benefit period.

Joy Sears is the restoration specialist with the State Historic Preservation Office.


Civil War veteran’s long-forgotten star returned home after research serendipity

February 10, 2016

by Heather Kliever

The Lane County Historical Society in Eugene has been working on a reconfiguration and upgrade of its in-house collections storage area. While working through the initial cleanup phase of this project I happened upon an object that looked little more than long forgotten garden stake.

GAR marker b web 0116

This Grand Army of the Republic veteran’s grave marker was part of the Lane County Historical Society’s collection for many years.

It was rusty, one of the points was broken off long ago and it had been sawn off half way down its post. The center of the star was embossed with GAR (Grand Army of the Republic). Fortunately, the star had been cataloged and I was able to go back to our files to read up a little more on object.

This object had been donated over 30 years ago and its original owner identified. This small star was a military grave marker that belongs to Chester D. Holloway, Company B, 13th Infantry, Wisconsin. Company B was organized in Janesville, Wis., in 1861 and served in San Antonio, Texas. Holloway was mustered out in November 1865.

There is not a lot of information available regarding Holloway and his journey west after service in the Civil War. Research through historic newspapers and Polk Company directories revealed Holloway as a blacksmith in the Fairmount neighborhood of Eugene. Holloway passed away at the age of 75 on Nov. 7, 1913 after a horse backed into him. He was buried the next day in Laurel Hill cemetery.

With great excitement I called Laurel Hill cemetery and spoke with the cemetery’s historian, Alice Morton. Alice knew exactly where the star belonged and the return process began for Holloway to receive back his GAR marker.

GAR marker web 0116

Lane County Historical Society executive director Bob Hart transfers the GAR grave marker of  Chester D. Holloway to Alice Morton of the Laurel Hill cemetery.

Heather Kliever is curator of the Lane County Historical Museum and a member of the Oregon Heritage MentorCorps.