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Back home – Unearthed photograph returns to Portland, thanks to volunteers

By Fred A. Parkinson

Sometimes, things just work out. Through a serendipitous chain of events, a long-forgotten artifact has found its way back to its original neighborhood. 

As a member of the Silverton Country Historical Society with an avid interest Silverton’s architectural history, I was asked to compile the story of the former Silverton Flower Shop building at 311 N. Water St. by developer Ben Johnston, who has converted it into a bakery with an adjacent food cart pavilion. During a recent tour of the building, an old photograph was spotted that, after an expressed interest, was delivered to the Silverton museum.

Mounted on a thin piece of Masonite, the old 60 x 40-inch photograph shows a vintage building with a cupola on top and a Good Samaritan Hospital sign visible under the right-side eaves. Peeling at the edges, it’s not in the best condition. Due to its large size, it might have been on display somewhere.

Melinda Martin of Albany, left, delivering the photograph of Portland’s original Good Samaritan Hospital to the hospital’s current campus, accepted by archival volunteer Kathy Schach.

Posted to a social media group, the photo was soon confirmed to depict the original Good Samaritan Hospital in 1880 Portland. Since there was no relationship to Silverton, we offered it to anyone willing to come to Silverton to collect it. 

That same day, we heard from retired nurse Kathy Schach, who now volunteers at her former hospital. She asked to acquire the photo for the hospital archives, where she often works. 

“We are very pleased for this piece to come to Good Sam. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I saw your post. My fingers flew to write a response to you!” Schach later commented. Arrangements were made to stay in touch until a pickup could be scheduled.  

Meanwhile, a proposal came in from Melinda Martin, owner of City Delivery Service in Albany, a civic-minded firm that specializes in smaller deliveries. She graciously offered to transport the photo to Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland at no charge.  

Melinda picked up the photo on Jan. 24 for transport to Portland. She was met at the Silverton Country Museum by members of the Historical Society, including Curator Judy Lowery. She later arrived at the hospital in Northwest Portland where she was welcomed by a group including Legacy Good Samaritan interim President Bronwyn Houston, Hospital Directors, staff, and, of course, volunteer Kathy Schach.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how the photo ended up in the old Silverton building. One former employee remembers that someone gave the photo to the flower shop owner but she doesn’t remember anything else about it.

Another explanation involves Berg and Sons Building Movers from Mount Angel, who were hired in 1985 to move several houses in preparation for Good Sam’s hospital expansion. The cast-off photo was probably collected as salvage and taken to the Silverton-Mount Angel area, where it somehow made it to the flower shop. However, another former employee remembers the photo displayed in the building prior to 1985, so its journey is still unclear. 

At least, after being rediscovered and through the efforts of three history-loving people, it has finally found its
way “home.”  

Fred A. Parkinson serves as the vice-president of the Silverton Country Historical Society, and is also chairman of the City of Silverton’s Historic Landmarks Commission.

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