Artistic, Political, Social, Unusual, and Fun Signs Around Ashland
2020 is a difficult year for Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Ashland. Due to coronavirus, the Festival Welcome Center is closed and the three theaters are dark. “Black Lives Matter” is the OSF message to the community in June 2020. I miss OSF people. I miss their creations. So I am opening and closing this Signs of Ashland article with Oregon Shakespeare Festival photos.
Going up or going down?
“Love Wins” and “Truth Wins”
We want bees to win too
Ashland is not just a town, it’s a community
We miss you OSF !!! (in 2020)
As I take more photos of signs as I walk the streets of Ashland, there will be a “Part 2” at some point in time.
If you enjoyed this photo essay, you might enjoy my photo essay about “Quirky Sights in Ashland: Part 1.” The link is below.
* 23 Homes more than 100 years old! * Oregon history comes alive at 531 Scenic Drive. * 30 Photos. * Garden of the Month, April 2020. * Tree of the Year 2004. * Modern architecture, and more.
I walked Scenic Drive wearing a mask in April of 2020, when the people of Ashland and the entire State of Oregon were being asked to “Stay Home, Save Lives” in order to slow the spread of the pandemic coronavirus. Going for walks was acceptable, as long as we didn’t gather in groups of people.
I began at the “beginning” of Scenic Drive, where it meets Strawberry Lane, and where the first house number is 5 Scenic Drive.
I was drawn to Scenic Drive this month for two reasons. My first motivation was the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for April, located at 467 Scenic Drive. In addition, I counted 23 homes on Scenic Drive more than 100 years old, built between 1880 and 1915. I know WalkAshland readers love the local history I learn and share here, so be prepared for plenty of history, gardens and architecture in this article.
Old Ashland maps show part of Scenic Drive was originally called Woolen Street, named for Mr. Woolen, who subdivided his farm acreage here to create land for houses.
Before we explore historic houses, let’s start with the modern houses at this end of Scenic Drive. The first house that caught my eye was also the first house number. I spoke with a neighbor, who told me two architects live in and designed this house.
I spoke with Greg at 39 Scenic Drive. He built much of this attractive 1988 house himself. What really makes the house stand out is the moose antlers mounted on an outside wall. How often do you see moose antlers on the outside of a house? As for me, never before this. Greg told me he purchased the antlers in Alaska from someone who makes spending money by finding places where moose shed their antlers in the winter. I learned something new that day.
I also met the owner of the log cabin at 35 Scenic Drive. I think I got lucky meeting Scenic Drive neighbors out in their front yards because the day I walked was the warmest, sunniest day of the week. You can see from the house photo that it is made of round logs. This is different log-house construction than one I saw – and learned about – on Westwood Drive. You can read about the Westwood Drive log house made with tongue-in-groove D-logs at https://walkashland.com/2019/07/19/westwood-street-log-house-and-eco-house/
This is a lovely, modern Swedish-chalet style house. A neighbor told me it was made using straw bale construction for the exterior walls.
Now let’s continue down Scenic Drive, looking mostly at a variety of historic houses. I won’t describe and show photos of every one of the 23 houses more than 100 years old along Scenic Drive. I will show houses that either caught my eye or have unusual stories to go with them, then I will list the other historic houses at the end of the article. I will also point out a few modern houses that struck me.
The Craftsman style house set above the street at 79 Scenic Drive was built in 1910 by R.L. Coombe. Born in the Australian island state of Tasmania in 1874, somehow he found his way to Ashland in 1910. That same year, he and his wife Florence built this new home.
Coombe was one of the leading plasterers in the Rogue Valley, specializing in interior plaster and exterior stucco work. Among the local buildings he worked on were the 1910 Emil and Alice Applegate Peil House and the 1912 Ashland Carnegie Library. You can see in the photo that 79 Scenic Drive has a stucco exterior.
The National Register description of the house says, “As might be expected the exterior of the house was clad in delicately colored stucco with highly detailed quoins and other details, a veritable tour de force of a master craftsman. Sadly, upon leaving Coombe family ownership this original material was painted, forever hiding the original design intent.”
95 Scenic Drive was built about 1915. I talked with current owner, who was working in her beautiful large garden. She told me the house was originally one story with a basement. In the 1970s, downstairs was made into a separate entry apartment. Orange aluminum siding was added to the exterior! Orange? Aluminum? To a historic house?
In 1997, the current owners did a renovation to remove the orange aluminum siding (yay!) and restore the upper story gable. Let me say now that there was one benefit of the aluminum siding. When it was removed, the original Victorian-style fish scale decorative shingles were in good condition on the gable. These shingles indicate that this 1915 house was a transitional architectural style between Victorian style and the new Craftsman style.
240 Scenic Drive was built in 1977, so it’s not a historic house; but in a sense it is historic. It is noteworthy because it was long the home of Lenn and Dixie Hannon. Lenn was a long-time Oregon State Senator, and Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library is named after him.
One of the oldest houses on Scenic Drive, the simple Vernacular style house at 345 Scenic Drive was built about 1886 by Lysander Sackett. The most notable owner of the house after that was H.C. Mecham. According to the Ashland Tidings of March 21, 1910, Mr. Mecham “recently invested in a home on Woolen Street” (the original name of Scenic) and also recently “purchased the planing mill from Carson-Fowler Lumber Company.” A planing mill took lumber that had been initially cut to size in a sawmill and finished it to meet the needs of different types of construction or furniture building.
The simple, attractive house at 365 Scenic Drive was built in 1885 and has a prime spot at the corner of Wimer Street. I’m not sure if the porch detail is original, but if not I expect it has been there a long time.
This beautifully renovated 1889 house at 407 Scenic Drive is independently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the best examples in Ashland of the Queen Anne/Eastlake architectural style. It was built in 1889 by S. Pedigrift, a mason and plasterer who seems to have lived in Ashland only three or four years.
Notice especially the matching Queen Anne style bay windows. George Kramer wrote in the National Register nomination form that the bay windows are so typical of “Eastlake fancy work” style that Pedigrift may have purchased them from a catalog and incorporated them into the house design.
Through the mid-20th century, the owners of the house also cultivated orchards up the hillside behind the house. Robert Dooms, who owned the house and lived there from the mid-1950s to 1988, told George Kramer that when he was a child in Ashland, the previous owner Robert Johnson “paid him $1 a pound for picking cherries, apricots, and peaches behind the house.”
The architecture is not the only impressive sight at this address. The 2004 Ashland Tree of the Year lives here. It is a massive Monterey Cypress, possibly planted in 1889 when the house was built.
Ashland Garden of the Month for April 2020
467 Scenic Drive was chosen as the Garden of the Month by the Ashland Garden Club. Ruth Sloan of the Garden Club wrote: “The lovely garden at 467 Scenic Drive is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for April. It is a work-in-progress by homeowners Elaine Yates and Michael Costello who have had this property for 3.5 years. Although the yard had good bones, with handsome hardscape and fruit trees, the garden had been greatly neglected in recent years.”
Describing the garden, Sloan wrote: “Heathers, grape hyacinths, forsythia, azaleas (in the deer-proof back yard), and rosemary are the stars right now but soon the rhododendrons will burst forth so Elaine encourages readers to delay until late in the month or early next month visiting to admire the garden from the street.”
Before we move on along to the highlight of my Scenic Drive walk, I must mention that 467 Scenic Drive was built about 1903 in the Vernacular style of the early 1900s.
531 Scenic Drive, the oldest house on the street
When I got to this house, the oldest one on Scenic Drive, I felt like I stepped into a time machine. Come with me, and let’s journey together.
John L. Carter was a sign painter. When he moved to Ashland, he expanded his business to house painting as well. He and his wife Fannie were married in 1845, probably in the northeast where they were both born. I don’t know what year they arrived in Ashland, but the couple built this house around 1880. It was the first house on Woolen Street (now Scenic Drive), very near Orlando Coolidge’s nursery.
It was a simple house, built in the vernacular architectural style. The original 1880 house was a small two-story rectangular box — the gray building in the photo above — with 1 ¼” thick barnboard walls and layers of newspaper glued to the walls for insulation. Sadly, John Carter died only two years after they moved in, but his widow Fannie continued to live in the house until her death in 1905.
Casey Bright was working in the front yard when I walked up and started to take photos of the house. He told me that when he and his wife Jennifer decided to move to Ashland in 1992 with their two young girls, this was one of the properties they looked at. The house and yard were a wreck. The house had been abandoned and was falling apart. There were rusty old appliances scattered around the yard. The healthiest part of the scene was a thriving patch of blackberry vines, about 20’ wide and 50’ long and 10’ high. That’s not normally the kind of thriving one looks for in a property!
Casey laughed as he told me his wife was the visionary in the family. Back in 1992, as the two of them were standing looking at the wreck-of-a-yard, his wife turned to him and said, “This would be a great place for the girls to play.” Casey decided to trust his wife’s vision. He also was and is a contractor, so he agreed that the two of them would buy the house and take it on as a project.
One reason Casey trusts his wife’s vision when it comes to houses is because she is an interior designer. I found out that Jennifer’s business, Twist Design Studio, can be found online at http://www.twistdesignstudio.com.
The Bright’s could not find any early photos of the house, so they looked at other vernacular architectural-style houses built in the same period and incorporated those elements as they renovated their house. They were honored by the Ashland Historic Commission for their attention to detail with a Historic Preservation Award in 1997.
Once we started talking about the history of the house, Casey invited me in (keeping physical distance) and showed me a wall where newspaper had been used for insulation. To memorialize that history, Casey and Jennifer created a frame for a small section of one wall to show the newspaper, as you can see in the photo.
When I looked closely (see photo above), I saw page 1 of a newspaper called The New Northwest from Portland, Oregon, an issue dated September 29, 1871. After I got home, I looked up the name of the newspaper and began another journey.
Abigail Scott Duniway
The New Northwest is important in Oregon history. The newspaper was founded by pioneer Abigail Scott Duniway on May 5, 1871 to press for women’s right to vote (women’s suffrage). Northwest historian G. Thomas Edwards considered the founding of Duniway’s newspaper to be a key event launching the women’s rights movement in Oregon.
Duniway was also a rare voice standing up for the rights of all people in Oregon, including Native Americans and Chinese immigrants. She published the newspaper until 1887.
Women’s right to vote
Oregon voters (all male) defeated women’s right to vote measures in 1884, 1900, 1906, 1908 and 1910. When a women’s suffrage referendum finally passed in 1912, Oregon Governor Oswald West asked an elderly Abigail Duniway (seated in the photo) to sign the official Oregon Proclamation of Women’s Suffrage. She was also honored for her decades-long struggle by being the first woman registered to vote in Multnomah County.
For more of my time machine journey meeting women who led the women’s rights and women’s right to vote movement of the late 1800s (including the female 1884 Presidential candidate my grandmother was named after), see my in-depth article: History Converges at a House on Scenic Drive.
Now back to the house. In addition to some original walls and newspaper insulation, the fir wood floor in the living room is also from the 1880 house. Reviewing his long journey with this house, Casey told me with a smile, “28 years later, I’m still working on the house, now with the help of my teenage son.”
As I reached the end of Scenic Drive, I saw a family outside in their front yard at 546 Scenic working on their garden and building a new fence. I was happily surprised to see an unofficial Little Free Library artistically built in to the fence. You’ll notice that they have a section for children’s books on the lower level.
I will close with a quote from Abigail Scott Duniway that is as important today as it was more than 100 years ago.
“The young women of today, free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation, should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price. It is for them to show their gratitude by helping onward the reforms of their own times by spreading the light of freedom and truth still wider. The debt that each generation owes to the past it must pay to the future.”
Abigail Scott Duniway
I would like to recognize the Scenic Drive houses more than 100 years old that I did not describe in the article:
* 67 Scenic Drive, built 1909, Craftsman style * 71 Scenic Drive, built c1910, Bungalow style * 101 Scenic Drive, built 1910, Bungalow style, 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic * 160 Scenic Drive, built 1910, Bungalow style, 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic * 125 Scenic Drive, built 1905, Craftsman style architecture, enlarged and modified in 1990s, but still has most of its historic characteristics * 275 Scenic Drive, built 1888, Vernacular style * 283 Scenic Drive, built 1884, added to in 1888, Rural vernacular style * 299 Scenic Drive, built c1886, Rural vernacular style, 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic * 309 Scenic Drive, built 1910, Bungalow style, according to the National Register, a 1890 house here was razed, then this house was built in 1910. * 319 Scenic Drive, built c1900, Craftsman style * 337 Scenic Drive, built c1905, Vernacular style, on a heavily landscaped lot * 338 Scenic Drive, built 1888, Vernacular style, this is one of the few 19th century houses on the downhill side of Scenic Drive. It has been beautifully restored, but the 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic. * 355 Scenic Drive, built 1911, Craftsman style * 361 Scenic Drive, built 1905, Craftsman style, the projecting bay windows are not compatible with the historic architecture * 447 Scenic Drive, built c1915, Bungalow style, but much altered and extended through the decades * 487 Scenic Drive, built c1910, Craftsman style, by Henry Leavitt who had orchards in the area. * 532 Scenic Drive, built c1890, Vernacular style
Bright, Casey, author interview, April 11, 2020.
Chambers, Jennifer. Abigail Scott Duniway and Susan B. Anthony in Oregon: Hesitate No Longer, The History Press, 2018.
Duniway, Abigail Scott. Speech given at National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Washington, D.C. March 4, 1884 [Abigail Scott Duniway Papers*]
Duniway, Abigail Scott. “Ballots and Bullets,” speech given at National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Washington, D.C., circa January 21-23, 1889 [Sunday Oregonian 9 Sept. 1906]
Edwards, G. Thomas. Sowing Good Seeds:The Northwest Suffrage Campaigns of Susan B. Anthony. Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1990; pg. 16, as noted in Wikipedia, April 14, 2020.
Kramer, George. National Register Nomination Form for 407 Scenic Drive.
Kramer, George and Atwood, Kay. National Register of Historic Places, Skidmore Academy Historic District, August 14, 2001.
Sloan, Ruth. “467 Scenic Drive, Garden of the Month, April 2020,” Ashland Garden Club.
Stone, Jason. Portland New Northwest 1871-1887, at Historic Oregon Newspapers, University of Oregon, accessed April 14, 2020. https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/history/newnw/
Ward, Jean M. “Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915),” Oregon Encyclopedia, accessed April 15, 2020.
For people who love gardens and gardening. Many photos of flowers and native plants.
For people who love gardens and gardening. Photos of trees, flowers and gates.
I began my Forest Street walk at the intersection with Liberty Street, one block uphill from Ashland Street.
Deodar Cedar tree
A Deodar cedar tree on the uphill side provided my first uplifting moment and photo opportunity (photos on the left and top right, below). This is a young Deodar cedar. If you want to see an elder, go to the Safeway supermarket on Siskiyou Boulevard. There you will find Ashland’s 2002 Tree of the Year, a pair of majestic Deodar cedar trees (photo on bottom right, below).
This “gate with a heart” at 796 Forest Street next caught my eye. It doesn’t take much to transform a simple gate into something special.
The Japanese maples and rhododendrons at 776 Forest Street provide contrasting shapes and colors.
Ashland Garden Club “Garden of the Month” for May 2020
The highlight of my walk along Forest Street was the May 2020 Garden of the Month. Each month, the Ashland Garden Club chooses one garden in Ashland to feature. This is how Ruth Sloan of the Garden Club introduced the garden:
“The wonderful garden at 720 Forest St. is a labor of love for homeowners Vicky Sturtevant and Alan Armstrong and is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for May. They have deftly combined edibles with ornamentals in this space they have gardened since 1983. It is a heavily shaded lot, particularly the upper, forested quarter-acre parcel that they purchased separately. In all, they have a half-acre that they manage beautifully. The hardscape was designed by Covey-Pardee Landscape Architects in 2009. Eric Cislo welded the gates and Ted Loftus constructed the stone walls.”
Viewing the garden from the street, you can only see a small part of what makes this labor of love special. So I will take you behind the scenes for highlights of the garden, some history of the garden, and share several of Vicky and Alan’s delightful family stories.
Garden in 1983 and 2020
The house was built in 1951. Alan and Vicky purchased it in 1983. When they bought the house, the yard consisted of lots of lawn, lots of concrete and not much else. In a story many of us can relate to, Vicky explained to me it was their choice. When they were looking for a home to buy, the couple had small children who were always outside riding tricycles, bicycles and other wheeled vehicles. “When we bought the house,” Vicky told me, “our real estate agent asked what we wanted, and I said ‘a lot of concrete.’” She got what she wanted…but…Vicky went on, “We spent the next 30 years getting rid of concrete!”
Here’s a visual for you. The first photo shows the house and front yard in 1983, when it had lots of lawn and lots of concrete.
The second photo shows the complete transformation. Taken in early May 2020, the front yard is now lush with blooming flowers and trees, a grape arbor, and a dozen varieties of vegetables not visible in this photo.
The white flowering tree on the right is a dogwood. The small plant to the left of the path with intense magenta blooms is a native penstemon. This beautiful slate pathway extends around to the back of the house.
My wife and I visited Vicky and Alan’s garden later in the month of May, so we saw different plants in bloom than Ruth and Larry saw during their early May visit for the Ashland Garden Club article.
More Larry Rosengren photos for the Ashland Garden Club
Larry took a photo of the Redbud tree at peak bloom in early May. By the time I toured the garden in late May, the tree was filled with green leaves rather than magenta blossoms.
In this back yard photo, Larry caught three species of rhododendron blooming at the same time, right next to each other. The rainbow of lavender, magenta and white flowers side by side is a treat.
Vicky and Alan love to discover and nurture plants native to the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. I took photos of seven native plants. The first one is special. I’ll tell you why.
You might be wondering, as I did, why this wildflower is called “Alice’s fleabane.” I have two explanations for you, so you can take your pick.
Number 1: When Vicky and Alan’s five year old granddaughter was introduced to this wildflower during a walk around the garden, she said, “This is my plant.” Now eight years old, every time she comes to visit her grandparents, she looks for Alice’s fleabane and loves to claim it: “This is my plant.” Why would she say this? I expect you already figured it out — her name is Alice.
Number 2: Born in 1859, Alice Eastwood was a pioneering botanist, a passion that began when she was very young. Here are the two books she received as high school graduation gifts: Porter and Coulter’s Synopsis of the Flora of Colorado (1874) and Gray’s Manual of the botany of the northern United States (1878).
After graduation, she lived in Colorado for 14 years, where she taught high school for income and spent every spare hour collecting plant specimens in the mountains. Her scholarly articles brought her attention, and she was asked to become the Curator of Botany for the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She held this position from 1893 until 1949, a total of 57 years! “By the end of her tenure, she had added a total of 340,000 specimens to its collection and had built up a fine botanical library with her own funds.” [Mathrani]
A number of plants were named after Eastwood, including Alice’s fleabane (botanical name Erigeron aliceae), which is a wildflower native to the meadows and woodlands of the Pacific Northwest. If you walk the slopes of Mt. Ashland, you might see this wildflower.
Shrub tan oak
Shrub tan oak is native to the Oregon coast. It has abundant small acorns that are food for birds, squirrels, chipmunks, deer and other animals. The tan oak in this garden is a dwarf variety.
Now we go from small acorns to small berries. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, “Birds and a variety of animals (e.g., squirrels, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunk, deer) love the fruit. Bears also eat the fruit as suggested by the common name of oso berry (oso from Spanish means bear).”
The large white fragrant flowers make the Western azalea (botanical name Rhododendron occidentale) a pleasure to have in the garden. This azalea is native to Oregon and the Pacific coast.
High bush cranberry
I visited the garden when white flowers were blooming on the High bush cranberry. Don’t confuse this plant with juice and cranberry sauce cranberries grown in bogs in the Northeastern U.S. and along the Oregon coast. High bush cranberries tend to be so bitter that even birds don’t readily eat them until winter, when they freeze and thaw several times and become a little sweeter.
Native to the Oregon coast, Salal is widely used to add greenery in floral arrangements. You can see how bright and shiny the leaves are.
Here is another wildflower that grows on the slopes of Mt. Ashland.
Wintergreen (not native)
Wintergreen is not an Oregon native, but is native to woodlands of Eastern North America. I love wintergreen scent and flavor, so when Vicky told me to crush a leaf and smell it, I went right for it. Ah, it was wonderful.
The lovely pond
The creation of the pond is another family story, starring their 11 year old twins. “Our kids dug the pond in 1993,” began Alan. “It started as a little hole to fill with water to put their frogs and salamanders in.”
My first observation – the “little hole” turned into a big project! My second observation – the parents must have done a lot of the digging.
Creating the back yard pond was a family project. After 20 years, the pond was leaking too much water, so they had the pond liner, pump system and waterfall professionally replaced in 2013. Bright yellow iris were blooming at the edge of the pond the day my wife and I visited.
The pond became a family project in another way. During the 1990s, as they made trips to the coast, the family would stop along the Smith River to collect round river rocks. You can see these around the bench, a relaxing place from which to enjoy the pond, koi and yard.
I asked Alan if they had problems with bears visiting the pond. He surprised me by replying that local bears were much more interested in their large compost pile up the hill than in the pond.
The forested “up the hill” yard
In 1986, Vicky and Alan were able to purchase the forested lot next door, up the hill from their house and yard. As you can see in the 1986 photo, the lot was thick with trees and brush. Vicky told me, “The back yard (cement and lawn) was dark and dank until we thinned the trees,” which they did gradually through the years. She explained, “Most of the manzanita, mountain mahogany, oaks and mountain laurel are gone – partly because of the shade but also the understory serves as ladder fuels.” As you can see from my 2020 photos, the forested slope is quite open now.
Berries, berries and berries
We had one more stop on our garden tour – the berry patch. They are not ready to eat in May, but here’s the order in which Vicky and Alan will be harvesting them.
Strawberries, planted along the driveway, come first. Rhubarb is growing behind the strawberries.
Blueberries are next, followed by marionberries. Note that these two varieties are under a netting to protect them from the birds.
The raspberries ripen later in the summer. Alan prunes them vigorously during the winter to slow their maturation, so they don’t have quite so many berries ripening and needing to be processed simultaneously.
My final photo in Vicky and Alan’s beautiful garden was a quirky one. I spotted a dramatic, deep purple bearded iris near the berry patch. Then I saw the purple garden hose on the ground behind it. I couldn’t resist the color combination. So this photo is offered for people who love purple.
The rest of Forest Street
Moving on along the street, I spotted an unusual garden gate at 682 Forest Street.
Then Forest Street ends at a fence in front of a large open field. Or does it? A sign by a narrow pedestrian opening in the fence says it’s private property, but walking through is okay.
From the opening, the path takes off in two directions. I can see that one way leads to Ashland Street. I follow the other path, and come to a street with three houses. But there is no street sign. I follow the street around a bend, up a steep hill, to the intersection with another street. Still no street sign. Frustrated with my inability to find the street name the old-fashioned, “shoe-leather” way, I go high tech.
Using my camera/phone/calendar/map, I zero in to my exact location on earth and learn that I am at the other end of Forest Street! I can imagine confused delivery drivers and guests trying to find these three Forest Street houses separated from the rest of the street by a large field.
Here is a view down the “west” section of Forest Street, taken at the intersection with Weller Lane.
Here, Forest Street looks more like “forest” Street than on the “east” section of the street.
Of the three newer houses in this section, this Japanese maple tree and the nearby front door stopped me with their beauty. Japanese maple trees are often lovely, but the leaves are usually either all green or all red. I tried to capture the variety of colors in this Japanese maple, but my camera was not able to do it justice.
The three house numbers on this isolated block of Forest Street are 615, 611 and 607 Forest Street. Right next door, I came to a house with big numbers 610 on the gate.
This must be 610 Forest Street, right? No, wrong. This is 610 Ashland Street, built on a flag lot three houses away from Ashland Street. I almost feel like I stepped into Ashland’s version of the Oregon Vortex.
Here is the path back to the east section of Forest Street and regular life.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy my article about the Garden of the Month on Ohio Street.
Or my article about the Garden of the Month on 8th Street.
Armstrong, Alan and Sturtevant, Vicky. Personal communication, photos and garden tour, May 2020.
Anon. Oemleria cerasiformis (common name Oso berry or Indian plum), Missouri Botanical Garden website. (accessed 5/27/2020)
Mathrani, Varsha. “Alice Eastwood: Pioneering botanist, explorer & naturalist, lifelong lover of flowers & plants, California Academy of Sciences Curator of Botany,” Living and Working with Nature website. (accessed 5/27/2020)
Tulips so bright, I could hardly believe my eyes! Walkable neighborhood, with trees, flowers and paths “New urbanism” is the model
Takelma Way winds its way between Tolman Creek Road and Clay Street. It is a quiet neighborhood, with the houses built in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I walked Takelma Way once in February, when deciduous trees were bare and front yards were low key. I walked the street again in April and found the neighborhood ablaze with bright colors, both the street trees and the yards. I captured a bit of that colorfulness for you in my photo essay of Takelma Way.
There are 61 houses in the Clay Creek Gardens HOA (homeowners association), which encompasses Takelma Way, Clay Creek Way and Mickelson Way. The neighborhood was built following the principles of “new urbanism.” The HOA website describes new urbanism as “a concept that encourages walkable communities, compact design with a focus on smaller lots, extensive shared community spaces and homes that encourage neighbors to interact with each other.” Practically speaking, the houses have covered front porches that face the sidewalk to encourage communication with neighbors who are out for a walk. There are narrow streets with wide sidewalks, so it doesn’t feel like cars dominate the space. The architecture of the houses is not “cookie-cutter,” but encompasses a variety of styles. There is even a neighborhood community garden where people can have a plot for growing vegetables.
A variety of house styles
Takelma Way paths
Let’s look at unique yard art
Tulip time (and other bright colors)
“Enchantment Grows Here”
This small, beautiful, carefully planned space was created by Kim Knoll. I love the way she has combined a variety of shapes and sizes of plants with rocks, yard art, colorful pots, and that stone bench to anchor it all. Though her house address is on Michelson Way, this section of her side yard is on Takelma Way, so I am including it in this article.
My wife Kathy and I walked Greenmeadows Way on a cool January afternoon. The sun occasionally peaked out through the clouds and smiled on us, as did some of the neighbors we met during our walk.
Greenmeadows Way is the heart of a late 1970s to early 1980s housing development in South Ashland known as the Mountain Ranch subdivision. There are 74 houses in the neighborhood association.
Walking Greenmeadows, we chanced upon Margaret (Peggy) Evans and her sister Barbara, who were out walking Peggy’s dog “Jack.” If you enjoy organ music, keep an eye out for the name Peggy Evans. She has performed organ recitals throughout the United States, and still occasionally performs organ recitals locally.
If you have attended or worked at Southern Oregon University, you may recognize the name Margaret (Peggy) Evans. She is an SOU Professor of Music Emerita and still teaches organ. She has taught for decades at the SOU Music Department. She now also teaches music in the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) program. Peggy was the Music Department chair years ago when my wife was office manager for the Music Department, so they had lots of catching up to do as we strolled the street.
Peggy and Barbara explained to us that every house in the neighborhood is connected, along its back yard or side yard, with a comprehensive network of paths.
In addition, there actually is a neighborhood “green meadow.” Like the paths, it is private property of the Mountain Ranch neighborhood association. However, they are flexible with others walking the paths as long as people are quiet and respectful.
What are these?
Let’s start our walk
Greenmeadows Way can be accessed from either Tolman Creek Road or Bellview Avenue. Let’s start our walk at Tolman Creek Road. The pretty house at the corner, 2398 Tolman Creek Road, first looked to me like one of Ashland’s historic houses. It turns out it was built in 1972. The Italianate architectural details lend it a historic look. It brings to my mind several well-preserved Ashland homes from the late 1800s that contain Italianate elements. These include the McCall House on Oak Street and the Coolidge House on North Main Street.
Toward this end of Greenmeadows Way, I saw for the first time a yard sign I have noticed in other yards around town since then. Unlike the most common yard sign in Ashland, which emphasizes “Love Wins,” this one counters with “Truth Wins.” A house across the street hosted a “Love Wins” sign, so here are photos of both.
Heather for January garden color
Because we walked here in January, I could not capture the yards and trees in their flowering glory. However, the heather was glorious. Here it is.
Greenmeadows Way contains examples of sculptural, artistic and whimsical yard art, all of it enjoyable.
Artistic rock work, a surprise, and your answer to the “What is this?” question
I was admiring the rock work at 1090 Greenmeadows Way, when I spotted the owner out front talking with one of his friends. I got brave, introduced myself, and discovered that he is a man of many talents.
Jeff Yockers and his wife created this beautiful yard. On one side of the corner house is a 40-year-old Weeping blue atlas cedar. The trunk, which is hidden by the cascading branches and leaves, is nearly a foot in diameter. I like the rockwork in front of the Weeping cedar, and I like even more the rock “waterfall” on the other side of the cedar.
Jeff also does some lovely wood carving. It began due to nearby forest thinning to reduce wildfire risk. When a Lomakatsi crew was thinning the nearby forest, Jeff asked for and received several twisting madrone branches from them.
He carved the two chili peppers in the yard from these branches. The two in the yard are painted – chili pepper colors, of course. When I told Jeff they are lovely – but – I wish I could see the grain of the wood, he replied “Just a minute.” He popped into his house and emerged with an even more beautifully carved madrone wood chili pepper that has just a light stain to bring out the grain of the wood. This piece has a place of honor in his living room, and rightfully so.
I will end the article with a little history, and a useful tip for Ashland trail walkers.
Greenmeadows Way and the three cross streets were built by Mountain Ranch Development Company, a partnership between developers Vincent Oredson and John D. Todd. As mentioned in the beginning, housing construction here began around 1976 and continued through the mid-1980s.
In 1983, Oredson and Todd donated 10 acres of land adjacent to their subdivision to the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. The Land Conservancy website says: “The Oredson-Todd Woods was designated to be a natural area for public use. Several years later, SOLC donated the Woods to the City of Ashland, where it was joined with other city-owned land [Siskiyou Mountain Park] to make up these two forested parks, comprised of 300 acres and used by hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts today.”
The Northwest Nature Shop “Best Trails in Ashland” page describes how you can access Oredson-Todd Woods and the trail system from the Greenmeadows Way neighborhood. “There are several places to access these trails. The most straightforward is off Greenmeadows Way. Go south on Siskiyou, turn right on Tolman, then right on Greenmeadows Way. Turn left on Lupine and there is parking area on the right. Park and follow the signs. It is thickly forested with a canyon and small creek running through the canyon.”
If you walk this trail, you might like to refer to an online brochure from Southern Oregon Land Conservancy that shows photos of winter birds you could see along the way. Here is the link.
Thank you for joining me on the Greenmeadows Way walk. In this stressful time, you might enjoy reading my article about the anti-stress (and other) health benefits of walking.
This brochure from Southern Oregon Land Conservancy shows photos of winter birds in Oredson-Todd Woods & Siskiyou Mountain Park. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/565cf1d6e4b0df45d8c1bb69/t/5879737820099e5ef220ad50/1484354429348/Bird+Brochure+Winter2014.pdf
Comprehensive list of birds that can be found in Oredson-Todd Woods & Siskiyou Mountain Park in each season of the year. No photos, just names. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/565cf1d6e4b0df45d8c1bb69/t/57928dd3b8a79bdfd1450f29/1469222355337/OTW_SMP_birds_Web_NewLogo.pdf
The Northwest Nature Shop “Best Trails in Ashland” page: https://www.northwestnatureshop.com/things-to-do/hiking-biking-and-running-trails/the-best-trails-in-ashland-for-hiking-biking-and-running
I walked Ray Lane in March 2020. This was during the “social distancing” directive by the State of Oregon, which was intended to slow spread of the novel coronavirus that was spreading throughout the world. Therefore, I met fewer of the neighbors than I normally do during my walks.
The photo above may help you remember where Ray Lane is located. The street is only two blocks long. The block to the south of Ashland Street ends at Lit Way. The one block to the north of Ashland Street ends at Hunter Park. Let’s start with some yard art I spotted in a front yard near Hunter Park.
Photos from Ray Lane north of Ashland Street
Photos from Ray Lane south of Ashland Street
If you enjoy photos of flowers, you might enjoy reading my article about Holly Street that features a “daffodil paradise” as well as the story of Ashland’s famous faith healer Susie Jessel. The daffodil paradise at the corner of Holly Street and Liberty Street is in its glory right now (late March and early April), if you would like to drive or walk by and see it for yourself.
I hope this photo essay will lift your spirits. See how many you can recognize! Photo Essay of Funny, Strange, Artistic and Historic Sights & Sites in Ashland.
As I walk the streets of Ashland, I am stopped in my tracks again and again by a surprising sight I have never noticed before. This post trades the written word for the visual image. My hope is that these photos will lift your spirits.
Wendy Eppinger’s entry arch at 190 Walker Avenue has an interesting story. She came up with the idea for the dramatic entry to her property, and then started collecting the unusual inset pieces. She found the center skull on Craigslist. The two cat skeletons came via eBay. Eppinger brought the two roosters back home from a trip to Mexico. Finally, the blue circles are from blue Sake bottles, thanks to Kobe Japanese restaurant.
If you enjoy “quirky,” you might enjoy my article about “The Mystery of the Peerless Hotel Marbles.”
8th Street has simple, historic homes built in the early 1900s, lovely gardens, and several dramatic trees. It’s on the eastern edge of the Railroad Addition Historic District.
Early Ashland was Very Small
Before 1883, the city of Ashland was very small. Heading northwest from the plaza, the town extended only a few blocks to either side of Main Street as far as Wimer Street. Heading southeast on Main Street from the plaza, it became farmland after only two blocks.
Adding the first Railroad Addition building plots in late 1883 was a major increase in the size of the town. Town leaders saw the need for this when construction of the railroad south from Portland was nearly finished. The second section of the Railroad Addition, up to 8th Street, was added in 1888, after the railroad tracks connecting Oregon and California were completed.
Impact of the Railroad
Due to Ashland’s site at the base of the long Siskiyou Mountain range, Southern Pacific Railroad made Ashland both a train stop and a maintenance yard. According to the Ashland Tidings of January 4, 1889: “Ashland is the eating station for all passenger trains and a thirty minute stop is made here by every train.” Dozens of new railroad workers chose to build, buy or rent homes in the Railroad District near the train station. Mostly due to the coming of the railroad, Ashland’s population more than doubled between 1880 and 1890, from 842 to 1,784.
Now Let’s Walk 8thStreet
Let’s walk 8th Street now. We will start at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company at the corner of 8th and East Main Streets, then head north towards A Street.
The first house on the right is 92 8th Street. It was built as a rental house about 1909 for Mrs. Lou Reader, the wife of a prominent Ashland doctor.
In 1930, John and Callie Winters purchased this house. They owned the grocery store right next door at the corner of 8th and East Main Streets, so they didn’t have far to go from home to work! This corner store was later Johnson’s East Main Market, owned by Swede Johnson. Many current Ashland residents remember stopping by Swede’s store as children on their way home from Lincoln School or the Junior High School. The former small grocery is now the site of the Rogue Valley Roasting Company business.
Garden of the Month
Across C Street on your right, you will come to Ashland Garden Club’s September 2019 Garden of the Month.
Ruth Sloan of the Garden Club wrote: “By September, most gardens are starting to fade, at least, and some are downright shabby. But not Kelly and Jeff Straub’s gorgeous place at 110 8th Street. Kelly’s diligent work shows to good advantage all year. She keeps the planting areas well groomed, and always a delight to see with blooming plants.”
Ruth Sloan continued: “A special quality of this property is that the “parking strip” (the area between the sidewalk and the street) is especially wide, making the sidewalk appear to go right through the heart of the front and side yards. This does two things: It makes the parking strip more versatile as a desirable planting space and it also makes pedestrians feel a part of the garden. Being a block from a popular coffee shop also increases foot traffic, and Kelly enjoys interacting with passersby as she works in the garden. Understandably, she gets a lot of positive feedback.”
When you take a break from admiring the garden, look at the historic house. Built in 1905, it is known as the Engwicht-McMillan house.
George Engwicht, a conductor for the Southern Pacific Railroad, built the house in 1905. He sold the house in 1908 to another railroad employee, A.A. Conger. Conger lived there only one year.
In 1909, Alexander and Eva McMillan moved from Montana to Ashland and bought this house. Mr. McMillan was born in Scotland in 1850 and came to the United States as a small child. In the early 1900s, he owned a sheep ranch in Montana. The sale of the sheep ranch gave the McMillans enough money to buy 110 8th Street and retire in Ashland. Alexander McMillan lived in the house until 1932, when he died at the age of 81. Eva McMillan continued to live here until her death in 1950.
117 8th Street
Across the street, behind a hedge and lush foliage, is a hidden historic house with a large garden. Known as the Osmer and Lila Long house, it was built around 1901. Osmer Long was a brakeman for the railroad. So far in just the first three houses on 8th Street, we already know of a railroad conductor, a brakeman and another railroad employee who have lived in these houses. Yes, this is the “Railroad District.”
130 and 132 8th Street
Built about 1904, the first owners of 130 8th Street were not railroad employees. One was a painter, the second a plumber. The architecture of this house is considered to be vernacular bungalow style.
You can see similar architecture in the house next door, built – or possibly moved to this location – in 1948.
143 8th Street
Across the street is a dramatic old American sycamore tree (or plane tree), in front of the oldest house on 8th Street. 143 8th Street was built about 1890, and its best-known owner was Caleb Porter, a conductor for Southern Pacific. The Porter family owned the house for about 50 years, until 1955.
The house has been beautifully restored at some point in recent years. I enjoy the vine being trained around the front windows into what my eyes see as a heart shape.
155 and 156 8th Street
The house at 155 8th Street was built about 1903. The builders added a few Queen Anne elements to the basic vernacular style of the time.
Elmer Harrington worked on trains at the Southern Pacific roundhouse in Ashland. He built the house at 156 8th Street in 1907, but for some reason he sold the house the very next year.