The building that is now the Venue Office and Residence Suites was constructed in 1923 for the Rapp Brothers by F.F “Pat” Patterson. The first story of the two-story building was an automobile retail store for Star and Durant automobiles. The second story had two, two bedroom apartments in the rear. Across the front was office/commercial space. The repair garage was located behind the showroom in the one story portion.
The Building’s Use 1923-1999:
The Ground Floor of the Two-Story Building:
The first story housed the Rapp’s Automotive Agency until 1932. Tom Parkinson purchased the empty building in 1937 and opened Parkinson’s Grocery Store that he ran for twenty years until he retired in 1957. Between 1958 and 1964, the space was occupied by Roseburg Surplus Sales Store, a store selling liquidation furniture. The space remained unoccupied until 1971 when Harry Hakinson purchased the building and ran an Army Surplus Center until 1993. The space was again empty until 1997 when a pawnshop occupied the space for one year. The building was unoccupied and in foreclosure when we purchased it in 1999.
The Second Floor of the Two-Story Building:
The second story had the two original rear apartments that were occupied through 1954. There is no documentation of the use of the front portion until the Second World War, when the Salvation Army used the space for their headquarters. This tenancy was followed by the occupancy of the corporate offices of the Oregon Turkey Growers. Between 1951 and 1957 there was a dance studio in the space. Leslie Robinson moved his Robinson School of Business here from another location in 1958. He not only utilized the front portion, but also incorporated much of the previous apartment space. He closed his business in 1969 when Umpqua Community College opened. In 1971 when Hakinson purchased the building, he used the second story for storage.
One Story Portion:
The one-story portion and the two-story portion of the building were divided into separate properties when the automobile agency started to struggle financially in 1929. Following the initial use as the Rapp Brother’s Repair Garage, the one-story building was housed by a tractor repair service throughout the 30’s. During the Second World War, the US Government leased the building and used it as their repair facility for all military convoy trucks. Between 1946 and 1958, the building was occupied as Umpqua Tractor Company. In 1959, Lockwood Ford rented the building to use as their body shop. They vacated the building in 1976, when they moved to larger quarters. The building was unoccupied until 1983, when Hakinson purchased the building to expand the storage space for his Surplus Center. The building was still being used for storage when we purchased it in 2001.
Town History Vignette:
The automobile was fast becoming the major form of transportation by the middle of the twentieth century. In1954, the last passenger train left Roseburg and the train depot, located at the end of Cass Avenue, (one block west of this building) closed. The presence of the pedestrians who had stimulated the development of Cass Avenue, no longer existed. The buildings on Cass Avenue lost their appeal for “downtown” type businesses that relied on foot traffic for sales. Consequently, this building became an unpretentious vernacular building that fell into disrepair through under-use and neglect. Despite its obvious obsolescence, the building offered and still offers a significant contribution to the harmony and variety of architecture in our town. The building was placed on the Historic Registry in 1983, as the “Rapp Brothers Building” (named for the original owners, George Rapp and his sons). The exterior walls of the building represent material, craftsmanship, and style that would be virtually impossible to duplicate today. Although there were no interior elements of any historic value to preserve, the building was structural sound (with the exception of the one story portion’s roof system that was replaced) and worthy of rehabilitation. With our purchase of the two separate properties, the two story portion in 1999 and the one story portion in 2001, the original building footprint was re-established. The next few years were spent in design, engineering, de-construction, and finally reconstruction.
The Building’s Rehabilitation, 1999-2006:
The exterior walls are cast stone. Cast stone is a pre cast architectural concrete used as an alternative to quarried stone. Its development dates back to the twelfth century, although it was not used extensively until the early twentieth century. The blocks serve as both structural concrete and exterior finish. The building’s contractor had his own cast stone manufacturing business. Although larger manufacturing companies were beginning to use automated machines by the 1920’s, the stones in the exterior facades were most likely hand tamped in their molds with the pattern face down in a sand bed. The cast stone walls have a top four-course design: A molded cornice of an egg-and-dart and dental motif, above a string of inward pointing acanthus leaves with tendrils, above a course of smooth cast stone with beveled edges, above a course of pebble faced cast stone. This four-course layout is F.F. “Pat” Patterson’s design and unique to the buildings he constructed.
Because of its poor condition, the original roof system in the one story portion was disassembled. All nails and fasteners were removed. The rough sawn 2×6’s were planed down to finish lumber. This lumber with the nail holes, discolorations, and imperfections (distressed wood in its purest form) is used throughout for the interior trim boards.
Through the process of reconstruction we have produced a truly modern building while preserving the building’s historic exterior facades. Although “all new,” the interior has captured its historic ambiance through the use of period glazing in the office doors and windows, the use of reproduction light fixtures, and of course, the recycled wood trim.
In December 2004, we received our Certificate of Occupancy for the Venue Office and Residence Suites.