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.
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.
I learn about log cabins houses — and hear a story. I learn about eco houses — and hear a story.
I started walking south from the Orchard Street end of Westwood Street. Westwood Street is in northwest Ashland, at the top of the steep street called Strawberry Lane.
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.
Across Nyla Lane was 183 Westwood Street, where I enjoyed the architectural detail of the front entry. The overall house design had simple, clean lines.
When I walk around town, I notice signs that people post in their yards and businesses. This “Love Wins” sign in the front yard of 177 Westwood Street is not unique, but the message is worth seeing again and again, and then living as best we can.
Across from 155 Westwood Street is a sturdy bridge spanning a small gully that appears to have a seasonal creek. The bridge mystified me until I followed the path. It took me on a shortcut to Sunnyview Street.The city map shows that the path continues from Sunnyview Street to Hald Strawberry Park, which means people living on Westwood Street can take a short walk to the park. This is a good example of Ashland’s commitment to give people pedestrian shortcuts whenever possible.
I stopped for a long look at a modern log “cabin” at 135 Westwood Street. As I was snapping photos from the sidewalk, the homeowner Chuck came out of the house and we struck up a conversation.
First I got an education about how the modern log house is different from the frontier log cabin. All I know about frontier log cabins is that the wind and the cold always used to find their way through chinks between the logs. Chuck had me look closely at the Lodgepole Pine logs used to build his house. No chinks! The house is made with “D-logs” that are engineered with tongue-in-groove connections (similar to a tongue-in-groove wood floor). With logs 8″ thick, there is no need for wall insulation. The logs provide all the wall insulation needed, plus they absorb heat from the sun during the day and then radiate the heat into the interior rooms at night.
Chuck invited me inside. The first thing I noticed were the dramatic portrait photos in the living room. Then I was shocked by Chuck’s story how he acquired them.
In the 1950s, he worked at the Los Angeles Times Mirror Press. This press printed the L.A. Times newspaper and many magazines. The specialty magazine called Arizona Highways used portrait photos of Native Americans. At the time (before digital printing), the magazine printing process for these portrait photos used them in the form of glass positive prints. One day, during a cleanup at the printing company, Chuck was in the right place at the right time to see these glass positive print portraits being taken to the dumpster. He grabbed as many as he could. Now they have the respect they deserve in his beautiful home.
I thanked Chuck for his hospitality and continued walking uphill on Westwood Street. Nearby, I was struck by two different house design choices across the street from each other.
130 Westwood Street has very simple lines in the architectural design, complemented by a simple front yard garden.
121 Westwood Street has a more complex architectural design in the variety of shapes and the window designs.
At this time of year, I see Shasta daisies blooming all over town, including in my own yard. I like the lush exuberance of the plants and the simple beauty of the daisy flowers. At 98 Westwood Street, I got my first look at what looks like a Shasta daisy with ruffles. The daisy grew next to an attractive rock-post entry gate.
My final stop on Westwood Street, before it turns the corner and the name changes to Strawberry Lane, was a pleasant surprise. First I met Lynn, who was also out for a morning walk. She lives on nearby Wrights Creek Drive, and I told her I would write about her street eventually.
As Lynn and I were talking, the homeowner of 62 Westwood Street came out, so I introduced myself. I am glad I did. Just as Chuck had given me an education about his log house, Laura gave me an education about her eco house.
Laura’s first home in Ashland was nearby on Strawberry Lane. When she decided to fulfill a lifelong dream to design and build a house, she worked with contractor Peter Mattson, who is knowledgeable about ecological construction. I could see solar panels on the roof, so I asked her what else makes it an eco house, since it looks so “normal” from the outside.
She pointed to the wide eaves over south facing windows. I replied that the wide eaves would block the sun from entering the house during hot summer days, and allow the sun to warm the house during the winter when the sun rides lower in the sky. She said I was correct.
Two invisible eco features are responsible for the ability of her house to stay so cool on hot summer days. It was mid-July on the day of my Westwood Street walk, and the temperature within Laura’s house had not exceeded 76° F so far this summer. She had not yet needed to turn on her air conditioner.
One invisible feature is the 12″ thick ICF walls (made with Insulated Concrete Forms). An ICF wall might have an 8″ core of concrete, anchored with rebar and poured in place, sandwiched between two 2″ layers of expanded foam. No additional wall insulation is required. This ICF wall helps hold in the heat in winter and keep out the heat in summer.
The other invisible feature Laura proudly told me about is her ground source heat pump (GSHP, also called a geothermal heat pump). This way to heat and cool a house takes advantage of the constant temperature of the earth five to six feet below ground level. Unlike Ashland’s air temperature, which fluctuates widely throughout the year, the below-ground temperature normally stays at 50° to 55° F year round.
A National Geographic article I found online explained it like this: “Unlike ordinary heating and cooling systems, geothermal HVAC systems do not burn fossil fuel to generate heat; they simply transfer heat to and from the earth. Typically, electric power is used only to operate the unit’s fan, compressor, and pump.”
Laura explained to me that about a mile of coiled tubing is buried 5′ to 6′ deep, then connected to the heat pump in her house. I don’t understand all the science, but the constant ground temperature is able to warm the house in the winter and cool the house in the summer. Very little energy is needed to run the system, so over time it helps both the homeowner’s budget and the earth.
For those not interested in ecological houses with ICF walls and GSHP HVAC systems, let’s change the subject from home building to an old-fashioned slice of life story.
I noticed this unusual sign by Laura’s front door and asked her the meaning of “Bield.” With her story, she took me back to when she was age 13 and she lived in a small town called Bieldside in Northeast Scotland. Biel or Bield is a Scots word defined as a shelter or a sheltered place. The town Bieldside got its name for its location on the sheltered side of a river.
Therefore, the sign by the front door that says “Laura’s Bield” means “Laura’s Shelter,” and brings her sweet memories of her time living in Scotland.
While in Scotland, she was introduced to poet Robert Burns. He is most famous for preserving the traditional song Auld Lang Syne, which is sung round the world on New Year’s Eve. Considered the “national poet of Scotland,” Burns was born in 1759 and wrote hundreds of songs and poems before his death at the young age of 37. The word “Bield” (shelter) on the sign by her doorway not only connects Laura with the town of Bieldside, but also with a Robert Burns poem called “Bessy and Her Spinnin’ Wheel.”
After Laura told me of her fondness for this poem, I had to go home and look it up on the internet. Burns wrote Bessy and Her Spinnin’ Wheel in 1792, in the Scots dialect. Here are the first and last stanzas of the poem, first as written in the Scots dialect, and then my rough translation into American English. I highlighted the words “biel” and “shelter” in bold.
First stanza in Robert Burns’ words:
O Leeze me on my spinnin’ wheel, and leeze me on my rock and reel; Frae tap to tae that cleeds me bien, And haps me biel and warm at e’en; I’ll set me down and sing and spin, While laigh descends the simmer sun, Blest wi’ content, and milk and meal, O leeze me on my spinnin’ wheel.
Last stanza in Robert Burns’ words:
Wi’ sma’ to sell, and less to buy, Aboon distress, below envy, O wha wad leave this humble state, For a’ the pride of a’ the great? Amid their flairing, idle toys, Amid their cumbrous, dinsome joys, Can they the peace and pleasure feel Of Bessy at her spinnin’ wheel?
Rough translation of first stanza:
I’m delighted with my spinning wheel, And delighted with my spindle and reel, That clothes me comfortably from head to toe, And wraps me in shelter and warmth at evening; I’ll sit me down and sing and spin, While low descends the summer sun, Blessed with content, and milk and meal, I’m delighted with my spinning wheel.
Rough translation of last stanza:
With little to sell, and less to buy, Above distress, below envy, Oh who would leave this humble state, For all the pride of all the great? Amid their flaring, idle toys, Amid their cumbrous, noisy joys, Can they the peace and pleasure feel Of Bessy at her spinning wheel?
I will close with a description and photos of Laura’s simple and colorful front yard garden. Following the ecological theme, Laura’s garden contains a variety of native, deer resistant and low-water-usage plants. The garden was designed by Jane Hardgrove, landscape designer and watercolor artist. The flowers bloom one after another throughout the spring and summer.
As we walked her small garden, Laura pointed out manzanita, orange sedge, lavender, rosemary, barberry, heather, kinnikinnick (or bearberry) and hot lips sage (with its bright red blooms). Wildflowers like yarrow and California poppies complete the garden.
Finally, as we were saying goodbye, Laura looked across the street and told me she loved her location because of the “big front yard.” Her “big front yard” is Westwood Park, an unimproved park owned by the City of Ashland.
I walked two-blocks-long Ohio Street in order to visit Ashland’s beautiful Garden of the Month for June 2019 (chosen by the Ashland Garden Club).
The Garden of the Month address is 265 Ohio Street. If you visit the garden, please respect the privacy of the homeowner. Please view the garden through the artistic fence from either Ohio Street or the alley along the side of the house.
For this walk, my wife and I started at the Helman Street end of Ohio Street, and finished the walk at Gene’s lovely Garden of the Month.
The yellow house at the corner of Helman and Ohio was built about 1905. The Oregon Historic Sites Database lists it as Frank Jordan house. On the Ashland City Band website, I found the photo below of Ashland’s “Woodmen of the World” band taken April 30, 1905. It lists Frank Jordan (back row, third from left) as a clarinet player. Could that be the same Frank Jordan?
Gates of Ohio Street
I found many quirky and artistic gates on Ohio Street. Here are photos of the gates, in order from lower house numbers to higher house numbers.
Mrs. Anna McCarthy in 1914
Now let’s turn from gate photos to the rest of our walk along Ohio Street, starting with a quick historical detour. Built in 1905, 147 Ohio Street is another historic house, called the Anna G. McCarthy house. This is a vernacular style hipped cottage with a wrapped hipped porch.
I found a photo of Anna G. McCarthy in the Ashland Tidings of December 31, 1914. As President of the Chautauqua Park Club, she was one of the female “movers and shakers” of early Ashland. In 1893, the City of Ashland had purchased eight acres for the Chautauqua dome (where meetings were held) and nearby park land for people to gather. By 1916, Chautauqua Park had grown into the much larger and more elaborate Lithia Park. Now in 2019, the original eight acres is the site of the Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Theater and the current entrance to Lithia Park.
Thanks to the Ashland Tidings of December 28, 1914, I can provide you with a list of Mrs. McCarthy’s 1914 Christmas guests: “…Miss Carrie Foster of Klamath Falls, Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Moore of Eugene, Mrs. Agnes Jury of Seattle and Mrs. McCarthy’s son H.G. McCarthy. As dinner guests on Christmas day Mr. and Mrs. S.J. Evans and son and daughter were present.”
Back to Ohio Street in 2019
This tree at 167 Ohio Street seems unusually large and lush for a flowering plum tree. I would love to see it when it’s covered with blossoms! The house was built about 1914 and still retains its original bungalow style.
A friend I play tennis with was out in front at 211 Ohio Street when I walked by, so now I know where he lives. He built this lovely raised walkway that accommodates the roots of his huge maple tree.His house dates back to 1930 and was moved to this location.
Garden of the Month for June 2019
Ruth Sloan of the Ashland Garden Club wrote: “This garden, designed and maintained by Gene Leyden, is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Monthfor June 2019. This is a naturally wet parcel (note the giant pond next door) where dampness- and shade-loving plants thrive and carefully placed sun-loving plants also flourish. Gene planted the willow tree, now enormous (14 feet in circumference!), when she moved in with her family in 1987, transporting it to the site from the nursery in the back of the Volkswagon bus. Garden observers can walk or drive down the alley to the right of the house to get more views.”
I was fortunate that my wife Kathy was with me as I walked Ohio Street and visited the Garden of the Month, because she had known Gene about 25 years ago. When Gene saw us outside the gate, she recognized Kathy and invited us in. What a treat!
Gene showed us the Curly Willow tree she “stuck in the ground as a stick” back in 1987. It now rises high, with both curly leaves and branches.
“In addition to the prospering plant life, there are remarkably beautiful constructions by Gene’s friend, the artist and carpenter Nathan Sharples. Look carefully at the gorgeous fence, installed only three years ago. Note the unusual wooden screen door. Also salted throughout the garden are sculptures by Gene’s friend Cheryl Garcia, as well as other items of interest.”
“Gene says she has a special fondness for fragrance in the garden and chooses many plants on that basis, including roses, jasmine and nicotiana. Among the many highlights in the garden are a selection of huge hostas loving their location under the willow, Lady Banks and Cecile Brunner roses climbing through the vegetation, and a smoke tree and smoke bush lending their rich dark foliage as contrast to the riot of greens plus colorful blossoms. There’s a little bit of everything here. This is clearly the work of people of great imagination, especially the primary gardener.”
The garden is the star of the show, but the house has an interesting history. Built around 1890, perhaps as a parsonage for the historic Methodist Church, its original location was on South Laurel Street. The house was moved here to Ohio Street in 1987.
If you love gardens #1: Since this article features a beautiful garden, I will end it with a photo of wise words from a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney.
If you love gardens #2: I would encourage you to join me as a member of the Ashland Garden Club. You can find the link to their membership form here at the club home page.
Notes: All descriptions of the Garden of the Month in quotation marks are from the Ashland Garden Club article by Ruth Sloan. Photos are by Peter Finkle, except when marked otherwise.
Article highlights: 101-year-old Mrs. Fader tells me stories, plus… The Pool’s bought a pool with help from Poole
Holly Street starts at Terrace Street just a few blocks from downtown, and goes downhill about nine blocks to end at Liberty Street. When I start walking a street, taking photos and talking with people, I never know what I will find. I found so many fascinating stories (including history) as I walked Holly Street, that I decided to divide my article into two parts. This is Part 1.
101-year-old, 75-year Holly Street resident Mrs. Fader tells me stories
I met 101-year-old Mrs. Clara Fader at 338 Holly Street. She told me that she and her husband Joseph bought the house (photo below) in 1943 or 1944. Though her husband passed away in 1980, she and her daughters Louise and Mary still live there.
Mrs. Fader impressed on me that she and Joseph were in education for 84 years between the two of them! She taught school for 40 years and he was a teacher and principal for 44 years.
She attended Southern Oregon Normal School (now SOU), where one of her teachers was Angus Bowmer, who founded the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1935. I couldn’t coax any Angus Bowmer stories out of her, just the statement: “He was really a character.”
Lincoln Elementary School was purposely built next to Southern Oregon Normal School to make it easy for student teachers to walk back and forth. Mrs. Fader taught for a while at Lincoln School, and then for many years she was a First Grade teacher at Walker Elementary School. This led to a good story.
The boy with the “big worm”
She described one of her students as a “bashful young boy” who came to her toward the end of lunch recess one day. He told her: “I hope it’s okay that I went in the classroom and found an empty jar, because I caught a big worm and need something to put it in.”
Mrs. Fader had her teacher-intuition working, so she asked the boy to bring her the jar with the “big worm.” When he did, she looked in the jar and saw a baby rattlesnake!
Baby Pacific rattlesnake (photo by Kristen Lalumiere)
Mrs. Fader told the boy: “Recess is almost over so go out and play for a few minutes, and I will keep the big worm.” She found another teacher in the hallway, who offered to take the rattlesnake to the College science department a few blocks away. After the science department did some investigation of the rattler, they reported back to Mrs. Fader that it had enough venom in its glands to potentially kill a child.
Another under-the-radar super-hero teacher at work!
Mrs. Fader remembers that day as one of three times that the children found rattlesnakes on the Walker School playground during her time teaching there.
The Fader house
The house was built in the 1880’s, according to Mrs. Fader. She and her family have made very few changes to the house, so it retains its historic character.
She recalls that after she and her husband bought the house, they started paying the City for utilities: water, electrical, sewer and more. Well, it took about seven years before they realized that the house had its own septic system and they weren’t even connected with the city sewer system. At that time, their house was still a bit “in the country” and the City had to install sewer pipes ¼ mile or more to connect with the City lines. This was quite expensive.
It seemed logical to Mr. and Mrs. Fader (and to me as I was listening to her story) that they would get credit from the city for seven or so years of sewer payments for service they didn’t even use…makes sense, right? Then that credit would be applied to the cost of linking their house with the city system. Who knows the bureaucratic reasons, but according to Mrs. Fader the credit was not given, and it’s a sore spot with her to this day.
Mrs. Fader’s barn at 338 Holly Street (with a visitor in the photo that is not a family pet)
The Fader family pets
When the children were young, the Fader’s had a number of pets, including rabbits, goats and dogs. Here are two pet stories Mrs. Fader told me.
Goats: The baby goats grew up with her children and would follow them around the acres of orchards and gardens around the house. During the school year, the goats knew what time the kids were due to walk home up Holly Street. They would wait in the street keeping an eye out for the Fader children walking home from Lincoln School. When they spotted the children several blocks away, they flew down the street to meet them. Then they would accompany the children for the rest of their uphill walk home. Mrs. Fader told me her neighbor down the street loved to go out in her front yard after school let out just to see this sight.
The Black Lab: Among the dogs they had as pets, the college-educated black lab whom she adopted later in his life was the most memorable to Mrs. Fader. Yes, I do mean college-educated.
The black lab, named Christopher, made a home for himself at Southern Oregon College (now SOU). Students would take care of the dog, and so he thrived from year to year. Christopher had a habit of trying to visit classrooms during the day. Most of the teachers closed their classroom doors or kicked him out, but one professor had an “open door policy” when it came to Christopher.
This was Professor Arthur Taylor, one of the most distinguished professors on campus. He taught Social Science at Southern Oregon College from 1926 until 1963, and was Chair of the Department for many years. He was so respected that the social science building Taylor Hall is named after him.
Taylor Hall at Southern Oregon University
Now…back to the dog named Christopher. According to Mrs. Fader, Professor Taylor left his classroom door open so that Christopher could sit with the students, as he often did. When Christopher was forced to leave his “home” at the college, and Mrs. Fader adopted him, Professor Taylor had words of high praise for the dog. He told Mrs. Fader (with tongue firmly in cheek): You won’t find a better educated dog than this. Christopher has attended college for six to eight years, sitting in class with my students.
Mrs. Fader confirmed to me that he was the smartest dog she ever had!
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Let’s mosey on down Holly Street for more photos and stories.
357 Holly Street
I call this photo: “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky.” Do you recognize the song these lyrics are from? Hint: It was an Oregon Shakespeare Festival musical in the 2018 season. Yes, the song is from one of my favorite musicals of all time…Oklahoma.
384 Holly Street
I enjoy finding beautiful and unusual yard art, and this house number sign qualifies as both beautiful and unusual.
Purple door and colorful art makes a welcoming entrance, in my book.
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The Pool’s bought a pool with help from Poole
Got it? No? Let me translate.
Life brought Gary and Debbie Pool a surprise, as Debbie explained to me: “When Gary and I got engaged, we thought we would sell my house and live in his, but we saw a flyer for the pool house [at 414 Holly Street] with a huge photo of the pool area with all the light and we had to see it!”
Realtor Eric Poole was Debbie’s neighbor, so they asked him to arrange a tour of the house for them. They went, toured the house, made an offer the same day…and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”
So in summary, the Pool’s bought a pool with help from Poole. Crazy, fun and true.
414 Holly Street, Gary and Debbie Pool’s entry recently rebuilt by Gary
Gary is just putting the finishing touches on an attractive new front entrance (above) and a front yard deck (where I took the photo below of Gary and Debbie).
Gary received his Bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning. That skill set took his career in a variety of directions, including doing city planning in the 1980’s.
Today he has a small landscape design and architecture business (GWPool & Assoc). He told me that he finds his work creative and fulfilling when he is able to design and build “personal parks.” These are designs that turn a client’s yard into a delightful, relaxing oasis.
I have known Gary and Debbie for many years, and they graciously allowed me to share some photos (and a video) showing the inside of their dramatic home.
The afternoon brings garden reflections to the water and water reflections to the interior walls of the two-story house.
Enjoy the 13 second video of water reflecting on the walls at the Pool’s pool house
This is only Part 1 of the Holly Street story.
In Part 2, I will introduce you to Ashland’s famous faith healer, who in her day brought as many people to Ashland as did the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Then we will meet Carol, who has created what I call “daffodil heaven,” one of the most spectacular springtime gardens in Ashland. Finally, we will learn about two dramatic Holly Street trees.
“The ‘Ashland peach’ was known all over the Pacific Coast and marketed in the Eastern states and in Canada. (The Max Pracht orchards on Ashland Street took World’s Fair premiums in Chicago.) From a few hundred boxes of peaches shipped prior to 1890, the industry grew until the 1899 output was 75,000 boxes, more than 60 railroad boxcar loads.” (O’Hara page 64)
Max Pracht peach box label, likely late 1800s
“Pear Paradise” or “Peach Paradise?”
Today we know the Rogue Valley as a “pear paradise.” I had no idea peaches were such a huge part of Ashland’s economy in the late 1800’s until I started researching Pracht Street for this article.
“60 railroad boxcar loads” of peaches shipped out in 1899 alone! That is amazing.
Max Pracht owned the premium peach orchard in Ashland. Indeed, you could say his was the premium peach orchard in the country!
Take a look at this excerpt from an 1897 essay extolling Oregon fruit: “In this connection the fact may be noted that the largest apple, the largest pear and the largest cherries, exhibited at the Columbian Exposition [1893 Chicago World’s Fair] were grown in Oregon, and that a special gold medal was awarded to Max Pracht of Ashland for the largest and best flavored peaches.” (The Overland Monthly, June 1987) (emphasis added)
Max Pracht’s House in 1900
Here is what his home and surrounding orchard looked like during the pruning season in 1900.
Max Pracht’s house and orchard in 1900 (photo courtesy of Terry Skibby)
It stands to reason that Pracht Street, where his home and orchard were located, was named after Max Pracht.
According to a July 25, 2013 Facebook post by the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum:
“Do you know that if you live around Pracht Street you are probably living on the old Peachblow Fantasy Orchard land? It was 120 acres of peaches right here in central Ashland. The largest peach orchard in the entire state of Oregon. The peaches were enormous. 20 ounce peaches were common with some as large as 26 ounces.”
Walking Pracht Street
Pracht Street is only two blocks long, with its two ends at Liberty Street and Euclid Avenue. If you like alleys, you can find one that heads south to Ashland Street and another that goes north to Pennsylvania Avenue.
There is a small one story apartment complex at 800 Pracht Street, and from there to Euclid it’s all single family homes.
Apartments at 800 Pracht Street
As I walked from Liberty uphill to Euclid Avenue, I searched to see if Max Pracht’s house was still standing. First, let me tell you about the yard art, chickens and skunk that I spotted along the way.
Chickens and Skunk
Ashland allows backyard chickens, and these are among the first I have seen in my walks around town. Then I spotted an unusual afternoon visitor…a young skunk.
First, I was surprised to see it just three feet from the chickens. Is that normal? Second, I was surprised to see it out and about in the mid-afternoon. Pet skunk? That seems unlikely, considering their potent aroma. Maybe it was just excited about exploring the trash area.
Beauty on Pracht Street
I enjoy finding yard art and other man-made beauty, as well as nature’s beauty. As I walked the two blocks of Pracht Street, I found both.
Artistic door at 710 Pracht Street
Yard art next to 715 Pracht Street
Lovely, rhododendron filled garden at 640 Pracht Street. I’d like to come back here in April or May when the flowers are in bloom.
My favorite tree on Pracht Street (at the corner of Pracht and Morton)
Max Pracht’s house?
I will finish the article with more about Max Pracht, who was an amazing man and a great booster of early Ashland. I think I found his house toward the top of Pracht at 660 Pracht Street. Take a look at the two photos below. The large yellow house at 660 Pracht is much larger than the Pracht house shown in the 1900 photo, but it is not unusual for houses to be expanded over the years.
To me, these two clues give it away:
The shape of the two windows facing the street on the third floor attic is identical in the current house to the shape of the same windows in the 1900 photo.
The triangular wall section between the two attic windows and the roof is identical in the current house with the shape in the 1900 photo.
What do you think? Am I right or is this just coincidence?
660 Pracht Street…formerly Max Pracht’s house?
Max Pracht’s house and orchard in 1900 (photo courtesy of Terry Skibby)
Max Pracht’s Life
Max Pracht was “a Republican of irrepressible enthusiasm,” back when the Republican party was the party of Lincoln, the party that had the courage to hold our country together and outlaw slavery.
He was born in Palatinate, Germany in 1846. There was unrest and revolution in Germany in 1848, which caused his father to immigrate to America with the family, including two-year-old Max.
According to the Republican League Register of Oregon: “He served in the navy during the Rebellion, and is a comrade of Burnside Post No. 23, G. A. R.”
In other words, he was in the Union Navy during the Civil War. Then, as a veteran, he joined the Ashland (Burnside) post of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union Civil War veterans group.
Max moved with his wife and three children from San Francisco to Ashland in 1887, purchased land, planted an orchard, and harvested his first crop of peaches in 1891. As of 1896, he was still waiting to receive the Gold Medal he won as first prize for his peaches at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
In addition to being a grower and marketer of premium peaches, he also developed some of his land for housing after the opening of the railroad led to a population increase in Ashland starting in 1888. On top of that, this busy businessman owned the huge Hotel Oregon downtown in 1891-1892, and his son Alexander went on to own the Ashland Depot Hotel [see Ashland Depot Hotel article here] after 1901.
Pracht Marketing “Secrets”
The Jacksonville newspaper wrote a detailed article in 1893 explaining in part why Pracht orchard peaches sold for 25% more than the market price for peaches, and why they were shipped all over the country. In addition to growing large, flavorful peaches, Mr. Pracht also took the extra step of communicating their premium nature to customers on each individual peach wrapper. In the process, he was a huge booster for Ashland and Southern Oregon.
“People who are fortunate enough to obtain peaches from the ‘Peachblow Paradise Orchards’ of Max Pracht this year will be fully apprised of the celestial character of the fruit, no matter in how distant a clime it may be unpacked and eaten. Mr. Pracht has just had nearly 100,000 peach wrappers printed, each bearing in blue ink on white paper his orchard trademark designed by himself. It advertises the climate of southern Oregon, the city of Ashland, the orchard business of Mr. Pracht, and there will be no danger of retail dealers in Oregon, Washington, Montana or elsewhere selling his peaches as ‘California fruit.’ Neither will there be any likelihood of any scrubby peaches being shipped in those wrappers. Mr. Pracht’s method of paying the strictest attention to the details of selection, packing and marketing, proves its value from the fact that he is able to ask and receive for his peaches 25 percent above the market price.“ (Democratic Times, page 3)
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, Oregon, August 18, 1893, page 3
Fulton, R.L. article “The Yamhill Country,” pages 498-503 in The Overland Monthly, January – June 1897, Overland Monthly Publishing Company, San Francisco, California.
O’Hara, Marjorie. Ashland: the first 130 years, Northwest Passages Publishing, 1986.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon: Containing Original Sketches of many well known Citizens of the Past and Present, Chapman Publishing Company; Chicago, 1904.
Republican League Register of Oregon, The Register Publishing Company, 1896, page 260.
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COLLABORATORS AND FRIENDS
My thanks to Terry Skibby for the historic photograph.
The Southern Oregon Historical Society is a great resource. (1) If you like history, SOHS can always use volunteers to help with research, digitizing and transcribing. Learn about SOHS here. (2) Second, I encourage you to join SOHS as a member to support their work. The JOIN link is here.
Morton Street runs from East Main Street uphill to Ashland Loop Road. I walked it during the late afternoon of May 30, 2018.
When I think of Morton Street, I think of “steep,” though much of it is not steep at all. I picture cars losing control and sliding down Morton Street’s steep section on icy winter days and finally coming to a stop in someone’s yard a block or two down. I was surprised to hear from 5-year resident Randy that cars sliding down on icy days rarely happens. He added that kids with sleds love Morton Street’s steepness on snowy days.
Let’s begin at East Main Street, the downhill start to Morton Street, where you will find the Ashland Cemetery. This is an old community cemetery, with the earliest recorded burial dating to 1860, according to the City website.
I am impressed with the lush flower-filled front yard at 327 Morton Street. I guess I hit the yard at just the right time of year.
Past the flowers, the 300 block of Morton Street wowed me with gate art and yard art.
I love the pathway gate and auto gate at 340 Morton Street, which were created by one or more very talented metal artists.
I enjoyed the yard art at 360 Morton Street. This bicycle is only one of multiple large and small interesting metal creations in the front yard.
I also love trees, and I hope to be able to find one or more trees to feature on nearly every street in Ashland. This large pink dogwood in bloom caught my eye at 501 Morton Street.
The Uphill Climb
Okay, are you ready to tackle the steep climb up Morton Street with me?
This photo looking down the steep climb gives a better perspective than any of the photos I took looking up the street.
Bob: Walking up the steep part of Morton Street, I met Bob going the same direction -up. I was very impressed when he told me that he walks to the top of Morton Street twice a week from his home on Holly Street! He then circles back to Holly Street by way of Ashland Loop Road and Terrace Avenue. My photo of Bob is at the end of the article.
Jeff: On my way back down this steep section of Morton Street, I met Jeff, who yelled out to me: “Do you have a minute to help a neighbor?” Feeling neighborly, I said yes. I helped him cut down a Douglas Fir tree on his property. The Ashland Fire Marshal had told him that Douglas Fir are more flammable than other trees and are best not to have growing near a house, so he is taking action. (I am going to slip another Ashland street here into the Morton Street article – Cascade Street where Jeff lives – because it is less than a block long and because it intersects Morton Street.)
Upper Morton Street contains a variety of house styles. I like the traditional look of the house at 743 Morton Street. Can you see the reflections of nature in the windows?
Is this Wisteria vine going to “eat” the No Parking sign? It sure looks healthy and hungry. This is a rare freestanding Wisteria vine, not trained on a fence, trellis or along the roofline of a house. Being true to its nature, it looked for the nearest thing to climb and found the signpost. You can find it near 800 Morton Street.
Talking Aristotle with Ron
Ron: I met Ron when I took a detour off Morton Street to explore the dirt pathway of Waterline Road. Actually, before I met Ron his two small dogs saw me and started barking wildly. After he calmed them down, we started talking about Morton Street, living in Ashland and even philosophy. Ron is excited that he and his wife will soon be moving to Morton Street so they can go for walks on beautiful Waterline Road.
As we were talking about Ashland and community, Ron quoted Aristotle to me. That’s not a conversation I have every day!
He started with: “Man is a political animal,” which is a famous quote from Aristotle’s writing. Ron pointed out that this widely shared quote is a mistranslation of what Aristotle said in the original Greek.
“Man is a political animal.” or
“Man is an animal that flourishes in a Polis.” Aristotle
Ron likes this translation: “Man is an animal that flourishes in a Polis.” Ron told me that the word Polis as Aristotle used it is a community of like-minded people, normally a community of a few thousand that is small enough to be walkable. He said Polis has little to do with “politics” as we know it. So there is a connection between Aristotle and Ashland. My understanding of the primary goal of both our city government and many residents of Ashland is to create a community that will allow our citizens to flourish…”man,” woman and child.
Back to the houses of Morton Street. I had very different reactions to the architecture of two modern style homes on upper Morton Street. I was intrigued by the difference in color choices, as well as design elements such as the roofline, decks and window shapes. The earth-tone house at 1010 Morton Street is more my style than the gray and white house at 861 Morton Street. Here are the two photos. See what you think.
Now for something completely different.
I like the artistry of the ceramic tile street sign next to an attractive lamppost and a gorgeous tiny tile birdhouse. I can’t tell if the birdhouse is solely an art piece or if birds really do make a home there.
Another beautiful garden, especially in May and June when the flowers are in bloom, is at 950 Morton Street. It looks like a “forest” of rhododendron plants on the uphill side of the street. Even though it is not close to the street, the photo gives a sense of its lush carpet of color. The homeowners must have an amazing view of this carpet of color from their deck.
We have finally reached the uphill end of Morton Street, where it meets Ashland Loop Road. I saved my photo of Bob for the end of the article, because he wanted to show me a huge scary rock way at the top. It’s just a few yards to the left on Ashland Loop Road from the end of Morton Street.
As we had been walking up Morton Street, Bob had been describing this rock to me. He described it as “big enough to flatten houses” if it started rolling downhill, for example if a major earthquake were strong enough to jar it loose. He told me the city was worried enough to do something to minimize that risk, as you can see in the photo below.
When we got to the rock, we had a little fun with the photo shoot. It looks like some of the hillside that was holding the rock was cut away when Ashland Loop Road was put through. So the city poured a huge hunk of concrete to stand in the place of the missing hillside and keep the rock stable. It looks to me like a smart move.