21 thoughts on “Sellwood Barber Shop, 1912

  1. What is that guy standing near the door holding in his hand? It almost looks like a billy club. Sure it’s not but what is that? A broom?

  2. Looks like the main lights are gas lights. Yet the lights over the mirrors on the right look electric.
    How common was gas lighting in Portland?

  3. I believe the lighting is electric augmented with the common at the time overhead window lighting. The ceiling configuration is apparently a stairway to the second floor.

  4. A customer was always broomed of hair clipping prior to exiting the shop and the gent at the door shows his readyness to oblige. The spitoons are nearby to accomodate those with the habit. Each barber`s license is hung above his station. The former gaslight fixtures look to have been turned down when they were converted to electricity. Foot pads of the old chairs rotated flat for adults but turned up for children. You felt like a “man” when you did not have to have the foot rest turned up for you. A nice collection of bottles containing hair tonics and rose waters on the back shelf. One imagines the Sporting News and Police Gazette on the hanging racks. The door and the transoms are open so we imagine it to be a warm day at the local barber shop. Nice photo.

  5. With the exception of the shoes (but what are you gonna do? It’s Portland), the freshly trimmed gentleman at the front of the photo could have been an Arrow Shirt man.

  6. Located on the left hand side wall a precursor to the calendars found in gas station bays and machine shops!

  7. What is the object at the far left closest to us? At first I thought a desk. But no.
    It seems to have a curved glass cover at the top. Below that are what look like paint brush handles sticking out. Some kind of clipper cleaning machine?

  8. Interesting trivia somewhat related to this post: The article below (if the link works) describes how in 1911 a would-be bank robber used the basement below the Sellwood Barber Shop to gain access to the interior of the next-door Sellwood Bank — by cutting thru a wood partition into the bank’s basement and drilling thru the upper floor. The thief got cold feet after holding the bank janitor hostage and backed out the heist.

    $50,000 Saved by Robber’s Fight. Masked Man Holds Sellwood Bank Janitor Prisoner, Ten Flees; Oregonian; 12; March 28, 1911

  9. I’m guessing the barber shop was in the building that still stands at the southwest corner of SE 13th and Umatilla. Portlandmaps dates the building back to 1907 and the sign next to the front door says it once houses the First Bank of Sellwood. That jibes with the information Richard C. provided above. Here’s a link to a Google Streetview of the building as it looks now: https://www.google.com/maps/@45.4628395,-122.6530361,3a,75y,244.26h,91.44t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sykw8JYvYG497jg5GFRQbBA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

  10. @ Quadro4 — My first thought about the desk-shaped object on the left is that it could be a vending machine, maybe for cigarettes? The curved glass section at the top, knobs on the front, and little slots at the front bottom all look a lot like a vending machine. But that’s just a guess.

    @ Quadro4 & Lance — The ceiling lights look to be gas fixtures that were converted to electric. Gas lights generally point up, to accommodate the flame! The downrods on the ceiling lights in the picture curve around in a way that looks like they were designed for an upward-facing gas light & shade.

  11. The lovely cabinet we see is indeed a early 1900’s wooden cigar vending machine. A nice piece of early vending history.

  12. Dennis: wow, you found the vending machine! Way cool. My pop had taverns so I recall this cigar vending machine as well as his 1909 Wireless Electric cigar lighter atop the bar (i still have the lighter). Spark supplied by a model T Ford coil it would knock you across the room if you lit your cigar incorrectly.

  13. Gas lighting,
    Luminaires like that used mantles. They are downfacing to eliminate shadow of the lamp assembly.

    Good idea!! Carbon monoxide piped into your home or place of business !
    I miss the good old days when one would easily suicide from a gas oven. A few deep breath & all it over. Too bad gas today is no longer highly poisonous.

  14. John Killen’s streetview link got me looking more closely. There’s a historic plaque to the right of the doorway in this view, calling out a “Trite Barber Shop, est. 1907”.


    The doorway location and upper windows all match the inside picture; in fact the windows could be original. Can’t tell on the transom window, that’s covered by the awning. And the stairwell that cuts into the high ceiling in the inside picture must be for one of the apartments upstairs, and it would come off the main stairway entrance for these apartments that is right next to this shop.

    The final clincher – the business now located there is a beauty salon – so here it’s 110 years later and it must still be a good location for this kind of business!

  15. Can’t quite make out the year (1912 certainly seems plausible), but looks for sure like it’s April.

  16. The calendar on the wall IS April 1912. I just double-checked it online. Monday was the 1st of April that year.

  17. Pingback: Inside the Sellwood Barbershop, Portland 1912 – American Barber Association

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