Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Phoenix Survey- Whatta Ya Got?

We recently began work on a survey and inventory project in Phoenix, one of the eleven incorporated cities in Jackson County.  Phoenix, originally known as “Gasburg,” was founded by the incredibly interesting Samuel Colver along Bear Creek, in the 1850s.  Colver, a former Texas Ranger, poet, horseman, and character par excellence, built a huge hewn-log home along the main road through the valley.  Colver Hall, sometimes called Fort Colver, was an imposing presence for 150 years, until it burned in a spectacular fire and was, sadly, demolished.  As a student at UofO, I was part of the effort to list the building on the National Register, working with the great Philip Dole.  I can still recall its absolutely great attic.

But there are other fine structures in Phoenix, some almost as old as the Colver House.  One is the Hiram Colver, or Patrick McManus House, shown above as photographed by the original HABS Survey in the 1930s.  Hiram was Sam’s brother or cousin, I forget which.  The house has been listed on the register but most of the others in town are just itching to be identified.  There are dozens of 19th and early 20th century vernacular forms, foursquares and bungalows, related from Phoenix’s rise from rural service center, to railroad station, to Pacific Highway wayside.  Among the cooler things is the former Dr. Malmgren House and Store, the former a rare temple front, shown below, and the latter the last bearing stone building that I know of in southern Oregon.

The town continued to grow after WWII, and I expect to find more than a few former Camp White buildings tucked in among the small ranch houses and minimal eave designs.  And then there is all the cool commercial and institutional stuff, including a fine former Texaco gas station and the Skinner Building, a rare small-town streamline moderne two-story that even has a portal window or two.

The one thing I rather expect to be in short supply is higher-style Victorian-era.  Phoenix wasn’t that kind of town, not since it was called Gasburg.


  1. George, do you need volunteers for the survey?
    Tina Reuwsaat

  2. Hello Tina, but no, it's a fairly contained area (150 properties) and I think I will just do it on my own. Am rather looking forward to walking the streets with a camera.