Monday, October 29, 2018

Russian Revolution

Space constraints meant that Benton County Historical Museum’s Circa 1920 exhibition could not include displays about everything that happened during that time.  One event which was excluded because it had less direct impact on Benton County residents was the Russian Revolution. 

At the start of the period, Russia was ruled by Emperor Nicholas II.  When World War I began, the country was poorer and less industrialized than either its main ally (France) or enemies (Germany and Austria-Hungary). The army made heavy use of poorly equipped peasants who died in large numbers.  Once Turkey joined with Germany, Russia's trade routes were blocked making supplies even scarcer, so many suffered from hunger and privation.  Further defeats, government disorganization, plus corruption at court turned many against the Tsar and forced him to abdicate in February (old calendar) of 1917.

The imperial parliament (Duma) formed a provisional government.  In April, the provisional government issued a new 1000 ruble banknote.  The picture on the bill is of Tauride Palace where the Russian parliament or Duma first met.  As a result these bills became known as “Duma money” or “dumki.”
1917 1000 ruble banknote
In order to finance the country's participation in World War I, the Provisional Government printed a lot of this paper money.  Between March 1, 1917 and October 23, 1917 the number of rubles in circulation increased from 9,950 million to 18,917 million.  This 90 percent increase in the money supply caused rapid inflation of prices, furthering discontent.

Meanwhile, the socialist parties formed an alternative body, the Petrograd Soviet, to represent urban workers, soldiers, and peasants.  Similar soviets were formed in other cities. Conflict between the provisional government and the Bolshevik-led soviets paralyzed the government.  Hunger and military defeats led to strikes, riots, and rebellion in the army and navy. Eventually the Bolshevik (Communist) led troops took over key facilities and deposed the Provisional Government which had issued this money. This revolt took place on October 25 by the old Julian calendar in use then; the equivalent date under the modern calendar is November 7. 

The Bolsheviks ended Russia's participation in World War I by treaty with Germany in March, 1918.  But by then they were engaged in a civil war with the opposition forces within the country (the White Russians) which lasted from 1918 until 1920.

 By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Corvallis Buildings Circa 1920

Between 1910 and 1930, Benton County's population increased from 10,663 to 16,555 or by 55 percent. Corvallis experienced even more rapid growth, with the population increasing by 67 percent over this same period. One reason for the faster growth in Corvallis was the expansion of Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) noted in the last post.

In a scenario now familiar to city residents, the expansion led to a building boom.  At least 7 new apartment buildings were constructed between 1920 and 1926, including the Wilder Apartments at 963 NW Jackson Street and the Beaver Apartments on north Second Street. 

Wilder Apartments, Corvallis, OR
Beaver Apartments, Corvallis, Oregon
The Beaver Apartments used the steam produced by the neighboring laundry to heat the apartments.

The building boom was especially pronounced in 1921 and 1923, with a total of 234 new residences constructed including that at 540 NW 14th  Street (known as the Becker House). 
Becker House, Corvallis, OR
The construction extended the city expanded northward and westward, including into the College Hill area with houses such as the Gilkey house at 136 NW 30th.

Gilkey House, Corvallis, OR
The business district expanded as well, with 19 additional commercial buildings constructed in 1922 alone.  Before most commercial activity was located along Second Street; in the circa 1920 era, businesses located on Third and Fourth Streets as well. Two photographs show the extent of this development. The first shows Madison Avenue looking east from Fourth Street Intersection in 1926 and the second, of Third Street in 1930, shows the Cress Building built in 1926. 

Madison Ave., Corvallis, Oregon
Third Street, Corvallis, Ore.
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Oregon State University #Circa1920

A week ago fall-quarter classes started at Oregon State University.  Today's students return to a campus that is quite different from that of the early 1900s.  In 1907, when Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) hired William Jasper Kerr as its new president, the campus consisted of 13 buildings on 225 acres, including
·         the Administration Building (later known as Benton Hall and now renamed Community Hall) built in 1884;
·         Mechanical Hall (later known as Apperson Hall and since remodeling as Kearney Hall) built in 1899-1900 to replace an earlier building which burned;
·         Alpha Hall, the first dorm, built in 1889 on the site where Gilkey Hall now stands;
·         the Octagonal Barn built in 1889 and enlarged in 1893 and since torn down;
·         the Station Building (now Women's Center) built in 1892 to house the Agricultural Experiment Station;
·         Cauthorn Hall (now Fairbanks) built in 1892 as a dorm;
·         a gym and armory in an 1898 building now housing the Valley Gymnastics Center.
·         Agricultural Hall, built in 1902, became Science Hall in 1909, then Education Hall (1940) and now Furman Hall (2012). 
·         Waldo Hall (1907) housed dorm rooms for women students and home economics classes.
Forty faculty members taught 1,300 students.

Kerr began making changes to convert the college to one of national stature:  raising admission standards, eliminating high school level classes, organizing the academic programs into colleges and adding courses in forestry, mining, pharmacy and education, and hiring more faculty with doctoral degrees.  The number of students rose to 3,077 in 1920 and to 3,347 in 1930. The number of faculty increased to 180 by 1930.

With 2.5 times as many students and 4.5 times as many faculty, the college needed additional facilities.  The college hired John Olmsted to create a campus plan which called for additional buildings of  simple red brick with white terracotta trim arranged around separate quadrangles.   Over the twenty-five years Kerr was president, OAC expanded to 555 acres and 42 buildings.  Architect John V. Bennes followed the Olmsted plan in designing classroom buildings Gilkey, Batcheller, Milam, Gilmore, Strand, Moreland, Langton, Hovland, Graf, Ballard, Bexell and Pharmacy Halls, all built between 1912 and 1925. 

Bennes also designed another important campus building:  a library.

In the early 1900s, the library was housed on the second floor of the Administration Building. One of President Kerr's first hires (1908) was a professionally trained librarian, Ida Kidder.

Ida “Mother” Kidder
Kidder added to the size of the collection and successfully advocated for larger and better facilities. A separate library building was completed in 1918. 
Kidder Hall (then OAC library)
Students and faculty carried the 36,478 books and approximately twice that number of magazines and pamphlets along a 250 foot wooden walkway constructed between the second floors of the old Administration and Library buildings. That would have been something to see!

When the new library was built in 1963, the building was renamed Kidder Hall.

Although these buildings still house classrooms, labs, and offices and would be familiar to today's students, the campus has continued to increase in size along with the growth of the student body, expanding westward beyond 26th Street and adding dorms and other facilities to the south and east. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon