Ashland High School outdoor art. Cheryl Garcia’s metal art. The Inspire House classroom.
I took photos on Morse Avenue, which runs between Siskiyou Boulevard and East Main Street, in April 2018 and again May 2020. Most of the east side of Morse is taken up by the Ashland High School track and field.
Homes and apartments fill the west side of the street. Morse Avenue is only a couple blocks long, as are many streets in Ashland, so this will article will be mostly photographs.
The garden highlight on Morse Avenue was 33 Morse. This home used to belong to Southern Oregon artist Cheryl Garcia and her husband Criss. Cheryl specializes in metal art, and you can still see her work around the garden.
Cheryl Garcia’s website is www.greatmetalwork.com. I have had the pleasure of knowing Cheryl for the past few years. She does create great metal art projects, both small and large. You may have seen her huge flowers just inside the main entrance of the Britt Music Festival, at Walker School in Ashland or the bright yellow-orange metal poppies in the vineyard as you drive into Jacksonville on South Stage Road (photo below).
When Cheryl and Criss sold the home on Morse, she told me that she hoped the new owners would honor and keep her artwork in the garden – and they have. Here are more photos of her art at 33 Morse.
There is an unusual tree at the corner of the garden where Morse Avenue meets East Main Street. I think it’s a weeping Blue Atlas Cedar that has been trained to grow in two directions from the sturdy trunk. It is dramatic!
Ashland High School track
During my 2018 walk, the deer of Ashland were represented on Morse. I was admiring the new AHS track recently installed after a huge community fundraising campaign. Then I noticed that three deer were also admiring the track, perhaps discussing how fast they could run a 100 yard dash.
The track was declared unfit for use in May of 2017, so a huge community fundraising campaign began. $360,000 of private funds was raised to replace the understructure of the track and lay down a state of the art surface layer. It looks great to me. I hope the high school athletes love it.
AHS Inspire House
The Ashland High School Inspire House on Morse Avenue serves a small number of students. I found this explanation at the school website: “The AHS INSPIRE Program serves students who have special needs, with an emphasis on hands-on activities that directly transfer into independent life skills.”
Rebecca Bjornson is the teacher for Inspire House students. I didn’t know about Inspire House when I first wrote about Morse Avenue in April 2018. Since then, I had the pleasure of leading Rebecca and the Inspire House student group on an Ashland History Walk through the Railroad District.
AHS Morse Avenue artwork
I enjoyed seeing this mosaic at the high school as I walked the sidewalk on Morse Avenue. If someone knows the story behind the mosaic, please share it in the comments.
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.
I will add Parts 2, 3 and more as I walk more Ashland streets.
Creativity makes our lives more interesting and enjoyable. Creativity can be expressed in many ways. Here I recognize people who have expressed their creativity through the normally little noticed entry gate.
“When I open the gate in my protective personal wall,
my little world becomes more spacious.”
The gate above has a good story. I noticed this unusual gate and stopped to take a photo. A woman (Anna Beauchamp) was in the garden and I asked her about the gate. She told me her husband Stephen Bacon made the gate. He carved the two side posts from cedar logs and the top post from a Russian olive tree. The center spirals are made from their garden grape vine trimmings. Stephen has decades of experience working with wood, but not normally these types of wood. He has built and repaired violins and other string instruments since he was 17 years old. His shop in Ashland, Bellwood Violin, serves professional musicians, schools and more. And I learned all of that by stopping to look at a gate!
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.”
On a chilly blue-sky day in February, my wife and I walked Kestrel Parkway in the North Mountain neighborhood with one of the “locals.” Sherri Morgan, who showed us around, lives near Kestrel. I met Sherri when she gave an informative talk about fertilizing plants to the Ashland Garden Club. If you enjoy gardening, think about joining the club. Learn more here.
The ‘front yard’ is Bear Creek
It’s quite a spot. The top photo shows the view from a front yard along Kestrel Parkway. To take the photo just above, my wife and I walked across the lawn shown on the top photo, and found a bench along Bear Creek. Had it been a summer day, I may have lingered there for an hour. With the temperature about 40 degrees, I only managed five minutes or so of lingering.
Kestrel Parkway is only two blocks long right now. It is currently being extended. Towards the end of the article you will see a photo of the road under construction. This North Mountain neighborhood is on the opposite side of North Mountain Avenue from the Mountain Meadows retirement community. Quite new, it has been gradually built up through the past 20 years, with several areas still to be developed.
I enjoy finding creative, lovely or whimsical yard art during my walks around Ashland. This looks like it could be a Quan Yin (or Guanyin) statue, symbolizing the Buddhist goddess of compassion. In the photo below, it looks like angels are visiting the house.
This circular brick work brightens the intersection of Kestrel Parkway and Fair Oaks Avenue. It provides a feel-good moment as you walk or drive through this intersection.
I see many dark green houses as I explore Ashland, but rarely do I see a bright green house. This one really works for me, especially in this setting.
Kestrel Parkway is only two blocks long right now, but it looks like it will be a block or two longer by the end of 2020. Fifteen small “cottages” with solar panels on the roofs are planned to be built in this area.
Taken from the Bear Creek riparian area up Fair Oaks Avenue, this photo gives a sense of the current North Mountain neighborhood.
I will leave you with another look at Bear Creek very near the Kestrel Parkway homes, as the creek flows north towards Talent, Phoenix and Medford.
As part of his contribution to building community, Peter Finkle is walking every street in Ashland and writing an article with photos about every street. Please subscribe with your email address, and you will be notified each time a new article is published.
What was the antique farm equipment in this photo used for? I was wrong in my article. Today you will find out.
This is an update for the people who have already read my article about Westwood Street, published in July 2019, and for those who have not read the article. Here is a link to the Westwood Street article.
Here’s what I wrote in my Westwood Street article: “The first thing that grabbed my attention was some antique farm equipment “yard art” at 189 Westwood Street, the corner of Westwood and Nyla. It looks like it was used to prepare rows for planting. I hope one of my readers will verify this assumption – or correct me.”
As I was walking Greenmeadows Way with my wife on Sunday, I met a man who was able, from his life experience, to correct me. After reading my Westwood Street article, Paulus sent me this fascinating email about working with this same type of farm equipment as a teenager. Note: the photos are not from Paulus. I found the photos on the internet to add a visual element to Paulus’ descriptions.
Warning: You are going to learn more about sickle mowers than you ever thought possible!
Paulus: “Here is my story, I grew up on a farm in the Netherlands, and as a teenager I helped my dad mowing grass and peas with a piece of equipment just like that on the photo. It might even be the very same brand, but I’m not sure. If my memory is correct, our mower was a McCormick, an American brand.
Paulus: “The mower has a knife that consists of a bar with a lot of triangular cutting blades. The knife is mounted in the mow-beam (the thing with the teeth, sticking up in your photo), and when mowing the mow-beam is on the ground horizontally. it seems that the knife is still in the mower on the photo. The knife makes a back and forth motion, driven by the wheel close to the mowing beam (with a crank mechanism).
Paulus: “So back then we pulled the device with a small tractor, my dad on the tractor and me on the seat of the mower, operating the thing, and, more importantly, making sure that the mower would not clog up. If during the mowing the mow-beam would hit some soil, there was a tendency for the knife to clog, and pulling the mowed material backwards with a pitchfork would often prevent the mowing knife to stall. I got very good at preventing that 🙂 Still, it did happen from time to time.
Paulus: “The mower in the photo has a long pull beam (I believe that it is called a thill), which means that it was used with two horses to pull it, the beam went in between the horses and was affixed to the harness of the horses to hold it up. The actual pulling was accomplished by the traces of the harness.
Paulus: “We used it to mow grass for hay, and peas. Often after the initial drying on the ground, the hay (or the peas) were put on heaps, the core of the heap was a tripod of wooden poles, about 5.5 feet high and with horizontal poles between the legs, held in place by loops of iron wire.
Paulus: “Anyway, hopefully this information brings something of the old farm days back to life. Back in the day, in the early sixties, this mower was already becoming old fashioned. Yet we never got a more modern mower.”
Thank you, Paulus, for educating me…and all of us!
Ashland has been known for wild Halloween revelers (in the 1980s) and cute Halloween children’s parades (still going). We also have people who like to decorate their homes for the season. This photo collection shows a few of the many Ashland homes decorated for Halloween. I included a bonus at the end — three extraordinary Halloween-themed house decorations I photographed in Southern California.
Scary, Spidery Creations
Houses with a Seasonal Theme
Back to Scary Again
Ghosts of all kinds
People like Pumpkins
Bonus Halloween Houses, from Balboa Island in Southern California
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.
248 8th Street
I like the way this tree, garden and house complement each other. It is a large, 1990s Craftsman style house that is designed to fit into the historic neighborhood. To me, the tree feels like part of the house. Take a look and see if you see this too.
8th and B Streets Yard Art
Though this house has a B Street address, the yard art along 8th Street is too good to pass by without a smile and admiration for the creative spirit.
286 8th Street
I am impressed by the healthy wisteria vine that was planted at the base of this large tree. Wisteria vines are normally trained to grow along a roofline or a fence. I have never seen one climbing a tree like this one does.
8th Street ends at A Street and Railroad Park, where you can find a lot more history. To read about the history of the railroad in Ashland, go to this article.
Many of the homes on 8th Street are at least 100 years old and have seen the march of time bring many periods of boom and bust to the Railroad District. Architects describe most of the older homes in the Railroad District as the “vernacular” style. Vernacular might be called a non-style style. Here is a more technical definition. “Its meaning is flexible according to the situation; but in essence, ‘vernacular’ means an unaffected, unselfconscious, unaccented way of building….it is the use of architectural style without being conscious of style.. .(Gowans, 1986:41)” [from the National Register of Historic Places, Ashland Railroad Addition Historic District, 5/6/1999, Section 7, page 2]
As the homes were being built on 8th Street, a business district was also built near the intersection of A Street and 4th Street, just four blocks away. By 1890, residents of 8th Street could find nearby a grocery, a stable, restaurants, lodging houses, even saloons. I will have several articles about 4th Street coming up soon at WalkAshland.com.
If you love gardens, I would encourage you to join me as a member of the Ashland Garden Club. You can learn about the Garden Club and find the link to their membership form here at the club home page.