9 thoughts on “SE Grand Avenue, circa 1931

  1. I don’t know who the people in the photo are, but I suspect they are employees of the larger Edwards’ Furniture and Appliance Co., first established in Portland in 1877 and remaining in business under that name at least until the early 1950s. The interior in the photo looks like some sort of off-site furniture repair shop. Maybe Edwards & Co. offered furniture repair and upholstery work as a satellite business? The company sold a full line of new home furnishings, including in later years radios and TVs.

    In any case, the main Edwards’ store on the west side was at SW 5th and Oak for most of its history. They had another retail outlet on the east side at Killingsworth and Albina. The company founder was Henry E. Edwards (1845-1913) who came to Oregon from Canada in 1869. He entered the furniture trade in Portland in partnership with a J. Birmingham in 1877, and after 1880 he went independent with his own store at 160 2nd St (the Centennial Block). After his death, his son Thomas E. Edwards took over the business and ran it until his death in California in 1929. The Edwards family resided at 721 Main where Main intersected with St. Clair St. (now SW Vista). Thomas E. Edwards left an estate of ca. $500 K at his death, which became the subject of a prolonged legal dispute unfolding at the time the above photo was reportedly taken; his daughter Virginia Edwards Earle (a former “Miss Portland” from 1922) contested her father’s will because he left the bulk of it to the furniture company’s employees and to his sister, leaving the daughter only $100 cash. In 1933 the Oregon Supreme Court eventually upheld the validity of the will, and it came out that the daughter was left with more than the $100 cash under the terms of trust agreement he had with his ex-wife (the girl’s mother). If anyone is interested, there are many more “juicy” details to this tale that are spelled out in contemporary reporting in The Oregonian, the Oregon Journal, and AP wire service reports.

  2. Correction to above word salad: The Edwards family home was and still is located at the corner of SW Main and SW St. Clair (not SW Vista). The present-day address is 2781 SW Main. The house is on the Natl. Historic Places register. For more, see focus.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/91000039.pdf.

  3. @Mat: Thanks for sending the correct street address number and the nice Google street view. That is indeed the Edwards manse designed by architects Whidden and Lewis and built 1909.

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