Rockne Roll/News-Register##Elizabeth Chambers Cellars hosted the McMinnville Downtown Association’s Historic Mac launch party Thursday, Oct. 29.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Elizabeth Chambers Cellars hosted the McMinnville Downtown Association’s Historic Mac launch party Thursday, Oct. 29.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Rebecca Quandt leads a presentation during Thursday’s Historic Mac launch party in McMinnville.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##Rebecca Quandt leads a presentation during Thursday’s Historic Mac launch party in McMinnville.
By David Bates • Staff Writer • 

Strolling historic Mac in text and photos

The McMinnville Downtown Association unveiled Thursday the fruits of seven months of meticulous research — the 38-page “Stroll Historic McMinnville” booklet, which is stuffed with an astonishing collection of information about more than a century of downtown McMinnville’s history.

The booklet, financed in part by a $12,000 grant through the state’s Historic Preservation Office, was researched by the MDA’s Rebecca Quandt.

She studied urban planning at the University of Washington and historic preservation at Clemson University in South Carolina, giving her a strong foundation for researching historic buildings. But she’d never researched 56 of them at the same time before.

The information, she said, was all out there. It took seven months to pull it together, though, drawing from resources both in and out of town, including libraries, newspaper offices, title companies, state archives, college yearbooks, historical societies and personal family histories. 

Sitting down with some of the families behind the buildings, she said, unearthed a wealth of additional tidbits. An accompanying web site, www.historicmac.com, includes video of the interviews and — like the booklet — will be expanded as more information becomes available.

“I interviewed seven or eight people who grew up in the community or moved here when they were in their 20s,” Quandt said. “Those were the best, because you got all these little tidbits and memories.

“Some of the interviews went for an hour and a half. Just hearing those stories was probably the coolest part of the entire project.”

Given how widely scattered some of the information was, it wasn’t easy. And, as MDA President Cassie Sollars noted, it also took some effort to determine what was true and what wasn’t.

“It’s surprising when you do research how many different stories come through, and only some of them are accurate,” Sollars said. “There is some research that says that the Cozine House was moved here from another location, and that’s not true. But for many years, people thought that.

“You’ll find stories like that in histories and newspaper articles that don’t ever get corrected. So it’s kind of a challenge to find out what really happened.”

Most of the historic structures in downtown were built between 1885 and 1912, with construction peaking in the late 1920s. Many of those buildings, constructed primarily from brick, are intact today.

In 1987, the McMinnville Historic District was created. It covers nine city blocks encompassing 64 properties.

Quandt researched 56 parcels in all, but only had room for half. She focused on the most notable.

Though some buildings were omitted because they weren’t constructed until the mid-20th century — the U.S. Bank building and plaza, for example — the website features photos of the original buildings on that and other sites.

While space in the booklet was limited, the website has room for everything. Along with the oral histories, it features additional photographs, maps, diary entries, letters and other primary sources.

For the 26 buildings featured in print, a “before” picture dating back decades, if not a full century or more, is accompanied by a contemporary image. 

The booklet is intended to appeal both to visitors as well as members of the community, so some local B&Bs have requested copies. Quandt has given presentations to civic groups, and Sollars sees “Stroll Historic McMinnville” also having value as an educational tool. 

She recently gave a tour to some local third-grade students learning about area pioneers.

“Taking them downtown,” Sollars said, “and being able to say, ‘This man that you’re studying built this building,’ for them to be able to put that together at that age is important.”

Copies of the booklet cost $5 each. However, the public library has two copies that can be perused without charge.

Quandt and Sollars were assisted by volunteers Marjorie Adams and Sarah Mason. Printing was done by Print NW. Photos were provided by Chuck Hillestad, Bill Miller and the Yamhill County Historical Society. The website was designed by LVSYS Web Design.

The booklet was unveiled at a launch party held Thursday in one of the buildings it features: The Old City Power Plant at 455 N.E. Irvine Street, built in 1926. Today, it serves as home to Elizabeth Chambers Cellar Winery and Tasting Room.

Comments

Bufordthe1st

Well Done!!! I love the history of our little town!!!

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS