SW Front & Alder, 1941

Scott Smith sent this fantastic photo, fantastic not only in the image of a long-forgotten Portland building (the city’s first brick building), but in the documentation that comes with it. I’ll let the two images tell the story. Ben Smith was Scott’s great-great uncle and the building was built by his great-great-great grandfather Joseph T. Young. Thanks again, Scott, for a real treasure!


youngscript(Scott Smith)

29 thoughts on “SW Front & Alder, 1941

  1. Others photographing at the same time have asserted that the Ladd Building, on Front between Stark and Washington, was the first brick building in Portland. I’ll have to re-check some sources tonight, but this is in any case a great photograph.

  2. Does anyone think that those cars could have parked any closer to each other? They must be just inches from each other. I found that as interesting as the building and the picture, it’s self.

  3. It looks like it may have been a good time for the building to come down when you look at the crack in the brick structure above the garage entrance. Re. the cars parked close together. They may have been parked like that for storage. That’s just an amateur’s opinion.

  4. It would be interesting to see a picture of Joseph T. Young’s grave marker, I wonder if it’s still there and visible. A lot of those old grave markers got knocked down by riding lawn mowers, or the text on them got worn away by the weather.

  5. The W.S. Ladd Building has long been asserted as the first brick commercial building in Portland (1853). See Hawkins’ book The Grand Era of Cast Iron. Of course, that assertion could be wrong. There is a reference in Hawkins book to the papers of architect Absalom Hallock containing details about the construction of the Ladd Building, so a further inspection of those papers may clear things up – or not.

    Regardless, there were already brick buildings in Oregon City by this time and the first brick house was constructed in the 1840s by George Gay.

    Still, the photo in question is a rare and excellent glimpse at what were certainly some of Portland’s earliest commercial buildings in their waning days. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Either way, that is a super cool picture. Plus it seems to be prompting some typically fascinating historical discussion. Thanks for sharing it!

  7. In reply to Mr. Brunker, yes, his marker still stands.
    He is buried next to a son.

    A little background on Ben Smith, Jr.
    Born in Portland/Sellwood, he attended the Portland Academy and the U of Oregon with time out for service in the Philippines with the Second Oregon Volunteers.
    He then worked as a draftsman and architect before taking a position with the department of plans, city of Portland. I believe he headed that bureau for many years, retiring in the late forties.

  8. Ben F Smith Jr.- He provided such a wonderful historical treasure. I wish all my old photos had such detailed descriptions.

  9. @felixstrange: That 1865 image is the 3rd one down on the left in the 1858 image and I was thinking that was the closest as well, but it’s not exact. Hard to say how much detail was included by the artist though. The upper corners are too prominent for one thing. The fifth one down on the left is a better match for the top, but then the “keystones” in the arches have too much space above them…

    In any event, it’s a great photo and fascinating history!

  10. felixstrange: On the lithograph, the third detail view down from the upper left corner (between Empire Market and McKee & Co.) looks very similar. Could that be it?

  11. The L. Snow & Co. building looks very similar if you take a later remodel to the right side of the building into account.

    If this is the same building as the 1858 Kuchel & Dressel lithograph, I’m surprised it is on the east side of Front based on the early kerfuffle over public ownership of the levy. Also, since Mr. Young was a mason, I wonder if he was employed by Absalom Hallock as a brick-mason to work on both the Ladd Building and the possible L. Snow buildng but family history confused the two. This is pure speculation on my part though.

    Regardless, this is a wonderful picture. Thanks for contributing it, Scott.

  12. This building seems to be shown in The Grand Era of Cast-Iron Architecture in Portland, page 59, picture #3. It’s the brick building in the immediate right foreground. This would be before the Esmond Hotel was built on the adjacent lot.

  13. @Jim:

    That one caught my eye as well, but then I found this list of early brick buildings in Joseph Gaston’s “Portland, Oregon: It’s History and Builders”-

    “The following list of brick buildings erected from 1853 to 1860 was prepared by the late Edward Failing in his life time, and is reliable:”


    Lucien Snow & Co. was located on between Pine and Oak, so that cannot be the building in the picture.

    I had better results looking up Everding & Farrell, the produce company advertised on the side of the building. They were indeed located at 150 Front (now 650 SW Naito) which corresponds to the location in the photo description:


    Failing’s list does not seem to include a building on this block.

    The block number is 77 (see map here):

    The earliest reference I can find to construction this block is a Portland City ordinance authorizing construction of a wharf there in 1878:


    Everding and Farrell seems to have been established in 1867:

    I’d be very interested if anyone else can find out more.

  14. The Watson on the Watson assessor sign was Tom C. Watson who was deputy assessor from 1932 to 1940. Later elected to the head assessor job in 40 or 41. In case you had to know. LOL.

  15. I get 1867 also as the founding date for Everding and Farrell. Where they are located was called “Carter’s wharf”. Sylvester Farrell’s house on s.w. Park and Main was torn done in 1941 for what else…a parking lot. Mr. Farrell was a member of the state legislature.

  16. According to one source, Baum Brothers was at 59 Front Street:

    But it looks like that address didn’t exist. On the 1889 Sanborn map, #59 would have been right in the middle of Pine St.

  17. @ Dan Faulkner: Going by the street renumbering plan, you’re right, 59 Front isn’t listed but it would have been right at Pine St. (the closest are 53, now 135 and 61, now 203). More importantly the odd numbers (than and now) are on the west side of the street and this building was on the east.

    Since the building on the southeast corner of Alder and Front would have been the lowest, even, 600 number listed as it’s new number in the document, that would be 602 which was 140. (Note that you can just make out what looks like 602 on the door above the “Auto repairs on credit!” sign). The other renumbers for that block include: 144/610, NONE/612, 146/618M* 146.5/620 and NONE/636.

    * I think it’s an “M” but it’s hard to read in the photocopy.

    So the building in question would have had an old address (depending on which section was built first) of 140, 144 (or “NONE”?).

  18. There’s an ad in the Morning Oregonian for June 22nd, 1866 for “Everding & Beebe” (the predecessor to Everding & Farrell):


    (In the last column, 4th ad from the bottom – “BUILDERS TAKE NOTICE.”)

    The address is listed as 150 Front Street.

    Also, the 1873 “Oregon Business Directory” lists these two addresses under “Commission Merchants” (I think today we would call these businesses distributors):

    Everding & Beebe, 10 N Front
    Everding & Farrell, 150 Front


    Everding and Farrell opened some of the first salmon canneries in the Northwest. Just for fun, here’s some of the brands they distributed:

  19. Here is another piece to the puzzle. The St. Charles Hotel stood kitty corner across Morrison from the building on the right. According to Dan Haneckow’s Cafe Unknown post about the Portland fire of 1873, block 77 had burned prior to the 1873 fire and was vacant which created a fire block that saved the northern half of the town. This photo from Dan’s blog was taken from block 77, the same block on which the Everding and Farrell building stood. It’s possible that a damaged Everding and Farrell building may be behind the photographer’s viewpoint though.

  20. Here’s a 1920s shot from the river looking East up Alder street showing the docks at the rear of the Everding and Farrell building just to the left (South) of Alder Street:

    You can just make out “Everding & Farrell” on the South side of the building.

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