Pendleton Historic Resources Inventory - Background


The Pendleton Historic Resources Inventory project was initiated by the City of Pendleton in 1985 in compliance with LCDC Goal 5 which states, "Programs shall be provided that will...protect scenic and historic areas...for future generations...The location, quality and quantity of (historic areas, sites, structures and objects) shall be inventoried". The current Pendleton Comprehensive Plan initially identified 36
historically significant structures, sites and landmarks to be protected and preserved. This list was compiled primarily from structures already listed on either the State Inventory of Historic Resources or the National Register of Historic Places. Recognizing the abundance of additional historic resources, the City has undertaken to survey, and inventory the most significant remaining sites and structures within Pendleton's Urban Growth Boundary. Due to limited funding the scope of the Inventory·does not include research or identification of new archeological sites.

The City's ultimate goal is to include the newly inventoried resources in the Pendleton Comprehensive Plan Inventory of Historic Sites, Structures and Districts. The Comprehensive Plan encourages the preservation, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of these historic resources in ways that reinforce public awareness of Pendleton's history and architectural and cultural heritage by providing a process for the review of developments proposed for historic resources. A permit is required for any exterior alterations, excluding normal maintenance and repair, to a property listed on Pendleton's Inventory. It is the responsibility of the Pendleton Development Commission to hold public hearings, review permit applications and render written decisions on all applications made to the city. The proposed alterations are evaluated for their consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards for Historic Preservation with Guidelines for Applying the Standards".

Historical Context

In 1851 Dr. Wm. C. McKay, the first settler in the Pendleton area, staked a 320 acre Donation Land Claim two miles west of Pendleton's present city center. The Oregon Trail passed through the north end of McKay's claim, crossing the Umatilla River there also. A bridge was constructed at the crossing and the site supported a succession of roadhouses to refresh the weary travelers. McKay sold the entire claim to Welcome Mitchell in 1861 and a portion of the north end was subsequently platted as the town of Middleton. The land on which the town was platted changed hands several times but is most commonly known as Swift and Martin's Station after Jonathan Swift and John L. Martin who owned it jointly with Judge Joel C. Johnson in 1865 and 1866. From 1867 to 1873 most of the land was owned by Jonathan and Ida Swift. In 1862 Umatilla County was formed out of Wasco County, and the County Seat was located at Middleton. The development of Middleton into a viable town was squelched by the removal of the County Seat to Umatilla Landing in 1865. In fact, an 1864 survey indicates that there were only three structures in Middleton.

In 1868 the County Seat moved again to what is now Pendleton and was located on 2 1/2 acres of land donated to Umatilla County by Moses and Aura Goodwin out of their 160 acre land claim centered south of the Umatilla River. Goodwin had operated a roadhouse at the site for several years in competition with Swift and Martin's Station two miles downstream. Also in 1868 the town of Pendleton was platted by county surveyor E.A. Wilson. The town grew rapidly, boasting 730 occupants by 1880 and also incorporating in that year. The next 20 years, until 1900, can only be described as boom years. The population increased to 4400 and the dusty frontier town blossomed into a small city of brick commercial buildings and fashionable homes. Pendleton became a regional center for wheat, cattle and wool production. The boom years supported the construction of a large number of similar commercial buildings within a short period of time. The similar styles lend a special cohesiveness to the downtown area which is still evident today, particularly in the South Main Street Commercial Historic District. Periodic redevelopment along Court Street and the north end of South Main Street has left only isolated examples of the historic character of Pendleton's oldest downtown area.

The earliest commercial buildings inventoried date from about 1880, when brick was first available for construction from the brickworks in nearby Weston. The earlier wood frame commercial buildings were almost entirely replaced by about 1905, during Pendleton's greatest period of prosperity. The earliest homes inventoried also date from about 1880. These wood frame buildings have survived mainly because there has been little financial incentive to tear them down and rebuild in the older neighborhoods.

Architectural Style Represented

Of the 146 resources inventoried, 137 are buildings, 3 are bridges and 6 are sites or landmarks. 103 of the buildings are residential, including multi-family, single-family and out-buildings. 34 of the buildings are non-residential, including commercial, industrial, institutional, religious and public buildings. The architectural styles represented in the Inventory are listed below along with the number of examples of each and the period of occurrence.

Qty. of Architectural Period of Occurrence
Resources Style Pendleton Nationally
27 Italianate
6 Residential
21 Commercial
22 Victorian
1 Second Empire
1 Stick
20 Queen Anne



7 Folk Victorian 1885-1905 1870-1910
14 Shingle 1886-1908 1880-1900
19 Colonial Revival 1901-1935 1880-1955
4 Neoclassical 1903-1920 1895-1950
8 Tudor/ Arts & Crafts 1916-1930 1890-1940
14 Craftsman (Bungalow) 1905-1922 1905-1930
2 Prairie 1905-1912 1900-1920
2 Italian Renaissance 1909-1923 1890-1915
1 Chicago School 1920 1890-1915
1 Spanish Eclectic 1922-1926 1915-1940
1 French Eclectic 1928 1915-1945
1 Art Deco 1937 1920-1940
14 Miscellaneous*    
137 TOTAL 1879-1937  

*The miscellaneous category includes residential, commercial and industrial buildings of indistinguishable or mixed styles, inventoried for their historical importance.

Resource Analysis

The occurrence of architectural styles in Pendleton generally corresponds to their popularity nationwide. Often the styles were a few years late getting started in Eastern Oregon but their decline usually followed national trends, with a few exceptions. The Italianate style, for example, was popular nationally between 1840 and 1885, but was a dominant influence for commercial building in Pendleton well into the 1920's with residential examples found as late as 1905. The Victorian Second Empire style is another example which dominated residential construction nationally from about 1860 to 1873, with a few examples built in the early 1880's.         Pendleton's only existing example of the Second Empire style, the Brownfield house, was built in 1893, 20 years after the style's National decline. In contrast, the Craftsman Bungalow style caught on very quickly in Pendleton. The earliest examples date from about 1905, just two years after the style first appeared in California in 1903.

The various architectural styles distributed throughout the city are often grouped together within historic neighborhoods. Several of these historic neighborhoods can be identified on the reference maps in section IV by the increased concentration of resources. The predominant styles found in the neighborhoods correspond to the dates each was developed. For instance, Pendleton's South Hill neighborhood, centered on South Main Street, is the oldest remaining residential area. Several of the earliest Italianate homes, the only Stick example inventoried, many Queen Anne homes and the oldest Shingle style homes are found in this area. Another neighborhood, the South Main Street Commercial Historic District contains a large number of early Italianate commercial buildings as well as several later Italianate buildings. The Byers Avenue neighborhood has an abundance of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival homes dating from about 1900 as well as a few older homes. However, many of the older homes in this area were not inventoried due to remodeling which has substantially altered their historic character. Pendleton's North Hill was one of the cities earliest residential neighborhoods but the older homes have been replaced over the years. The North Hill is now a showplace for the later Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Tudor styles as well as several examples of the Queen Anne and Shingle styles.


From the progression of architectural styles found in this Inventory we catch a glimpse into Pendleton's past. As the public becomes aware of the unique and special qualities of our historic resources they are more likely to be preserved and rehabilitated with sensitivity to their historic character. Old buildings are compatible with modern uses and can, in fact, enhance them with the charm and nostalgia of fine craftsmanship that is almost impossible to attain in new construction today.