Thursday, July 25, 2019

Summer Fun in Benton County, Oregon

Summer weekends in Benton County are filled with activities.  “Making Waves” was the theme of this year's da Vinci Days celebration, held last weekend (July 19-21).  This festival began in 1989 and has been a feature of local summers for most years since.  The Benton County Historical Museum has a number of artifacts associated with the festival, including advertising posters.
da Vinci Days 2012 poster
For many years the festival was held on OSU's lower campus-- between Jefferson and Monroe Streets, west of 9th Street.  Some exhibits and talks were held on campus and the community art projects were displayed along Madison Street.  Before 2014, admission was not free as it is today.  Those who paid got a button that granted admission to all events. The museum has 12 of these, including those from 1991, 1996, and 2000.

Budget problems led the board to suspend the 2014 and 2015 celebrations. Now most of the summer events are held at the Benton County Fairgrounds and they are free. But some features of the original festival such as exhibits, activities for children, music, and food are still part of da Vinci Days.

The Maharimbas perform at the 1990 da Vinci Days
Food Court at the 1990 da Vinci Days
The ever-popular kinetic sculpture race has been a feature of da Vinci Days from the start, and continued even during the years when the festival itself was suspended.  
 The 2019 da Vinci Days may be over but there's more fun to come!  This coming Saturday (July 27) is Family Day at the Benton County Historical Museum.  The theme this year is “From the Ground up:  Archaeology to Architecture.” Learn more at

The following weekend is the Benton County Fair and the Clothesline Sale of Art on the grounds of the Benton County Courthouse.  Have fun!

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

Thursday, July 18, 2019

This Old House: Colonial Architecture

People coming to the American colonies built simple houses in styles familiar to them.  In the northern colonies, English traditions resulted in rectangular, two-story houses with steeply pitched roofs with little overhang, clapboard or wood shingle siding, a large central chimneys, and small windows.  Houses in the middle colonies reflected the influence of Dutch settlers in the New York and New Jersey areas. These houses tended to be one story, made of brick or stone, and have gamboled roofs, some with flared eaves.  The houses in the southern colonies shared the English traditions but more likely to be one story with paired end chimneys than their northern counterparts.   Few of these original houses survive.

The centennial exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 revived interest in these early housing styles. Most, however, incorporate elements from the somewhat later Federal style. The colonial revival style remained popular for many years after that. It has been estimated that about 40 percent of houses built during the 1910-1930 period were on this style. The rest of this post will highlight some colonial revival houses which are not included in the Benton County Historical Museum’s This Old House exhibition. 

The Clayton and Lucille Long house, at 303 NW 32nd Street in Corvallis, is a good example of the colonial revival style.  It too is a rectangular, two-story, wood sided house. Colonial Revival houses, however, do not have the small windows and steep roofs of the original houses. Front doors are given more emphasis in the symmetrical design with the use of slender columns supporting a porch roof and windows about (fan lights) or alongside (sidelights) the front door.
Front door features of the Long house
Cape Cod style houses are similar to Colonial Revival homes but are one story with a dormered roof to create livable space above the main floor.
House at 411 SW 9th Street, Corvallis, OR

House at 445 NW 9th Street, Corvallis, OR
Also, many Colonial Revival houses are painted white.  I was surprised to learn that during colonial times either the houses were not painted at all or were painted in earth tones such as ochre, brown or red, but not white
Two variants of colonial houses are Dutch Colonial and the Cape Cod style. The former are easily identified by their gambrel roofs.  I especially like those with flared eaves.   The Hanson house is one example.

The house on 13th Street near Polk in Corvallis is another.

As you drive around in Corvallis, you can spot a number of others in these styles. 
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon