Yesterday we had a road trip, going 14 miles east of home. We actually got on a freeway! ( Not nearly as common for us here as in California). The number 84 freeway is also called the Banfield. We went out to visit Edgefield.
Edgefield is a beautiful, interesting place with an even more interesting past. From 1911 to 1982, this complex of buildings and farms was the county poor farm, 292 acres of land where people came when they had no where else to go.
There was a real farm, with cows, pigs, chickens, orchards of fruit and acres of vegetables, which was tended by the folks who lived here. They provided food for their own tables, as well as to the county jail and juvenile facility.
There was a power station to supply electricity for the place. The staff had farmers, nurses, cooks, and administrators. The residents weren’t required to work, because some were old and sick. But if you could work and did, you ate better than if you could work and didn’t. The Depression, when many people were poor, filled the place up, and World War II, when lots of work was needed, emptied it of able bodied people, leaving just the old and sick.
After the war, Social Security and other social safety nets came into being, and fewer people needed to live on the farm. A hospital was built as the population got older. By 1982, the buildings were too old and out of compliance with safety laws, and there were so few residents that the County moved them to other hospitals and closed Edgefield down.
It stood, abandoned, for eight years. It was big, old, in need up repair, and quite a way out of town. No one knew what it could be used for.
Then The McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, who are known as The Brews Brothers because of their work developing the microbrewery industry in Oregon, came along. These men had, by 1982, created more than a dozen bars and restaurants out of historic, abandoned buildings. They had been successful in re-imagining spaces they felt were worthy of saving. In 1990, they saw Edgefield and fell in love.
I will tell you what they did next tomorrow!