Slabtown Fun Fact #17: Petition to Shut Besaw’s Saloon

Slabtown Fun Fact #17: Petition to Shut Besaw’s Saloon

Wait who is trying to shut down Besaw’s?  Petition to Shut Besaw’s Saloon!

Yes 3,144 Portlander’s signed a petition to close Besaw’s in May 1905.  Voters wanted all bars closed that were near the 1905 Fair Grounds.  It was this movement that led to prohibition.  This fun fact was more relevant when there was a fight to save the building.


Besaws c. 1938 Note the second level & tower was still intact- well now sadly the entire building is gone.
My favorite detail about this image is the drain along the bar so you never need to leave your drink alone to empty your bladder.



1880  According to Portland Maps the building on the northwest corner of N.W. 23rd Ave. and Savier St. was built.

1903 Besaw/ The Oaks (Saloon) 755 North Savier  (this is now part of Tavern and Pool northeast corner of N.W. 23rd Ave. and Savier St.

1904 –  Besaw & Liberty (George Besaw Jr. and Patrick Liberty) 761 Savier (saloon)

1905 – Besaw & Liberty (George Besaw Jr. and Patrick Liberty) 761 Savier (saloon) 765 Savier (restaurant)

1906-9  Besaw & Liberty (George Besaw Jr. and Patrick Liberty) 761 (saloon) Savier    761.5 (restaurant)

1910 Besaw & Liberty 761 Savier

1911-15 Besaw & Liberty (George D. Besaw & Medrick Liberty) 761 Savier (alteration permit in 1912)

1916 –closed/vacant

1917-18 – Besaw & Liberty Soft Drinks 761 Savier

1921-22 – Besaws (Confectionary)

1925-1930 – Solo Club Restaurant

1931-1933 – George Besaw Jr. Restaurant

1932 – Building permit for a card room approved

  1. 1967-1972 Besaw’s Restaurant 2301 NW Savier St. Clyde Besaw

1973- 1987 Vacant

1988-May 2015  Besaw’s Café 2301 Savier

Jan. 2016 Besaw’s restaurant managed by Cana Flug reopens at NW 21st and Raleigh

Jan. 2017 CE John demolishes historic structure at NW23rd and Savier


National Impacting Events

Lewis & Clark Centennial 1905

Oregon Prohibition Period 1914 -1933

National Prohibition 1919-1933

Great Depression 1929

Polk Research

1901-02 none white or restaurants or saloons

1903-  Saloon  Besaw George 755 Savier

1904- Besaw & Liberty 761 Savier saloon

George Besaw and Patrick Liberty

1905 Besaw & Liberty 761 Savior saloon

Besaw and Liberty rest. 765 Savier saloon 761 Savier

1906 Besaw George (Besaw & Liberty) re. 761.5 Savier

Besaw & Liberty (saloon 761)

1907-08 saloon Besaw & Liberty 761 Savier (no rest)

1909 Besaw George (Besaw & Liberty) rest 761.5 Savier

Besaw and liberty saloon 761 Savier

1910 – none rs. None rest. Saloon Besaw & Liberty 761 Savier

1911 –Besaw George D b. 761.5 Savier

Besaw Geo E (Besaw & Liberty) h. 761.5 Savier

Besaw & Liberty (Geo E Bewsaw Medrick Liberty saloon 761 Savier

1912-Besaw & Liberty 761 Savier

1913- Besaw Geo lab b 366 21st N

Besaw Geo D (Besaw & Liberty) h 366 21st N

Besaw & Liberty (Geo D Besaw Medrick Liberty) saloon 761 savier

1914 Besaw Geo D (Emma) (Besaw & Liberty) h. 366 21st N

Besaw & Liberty (Geo D. Besaw Merdrick Liberty) Saloon 761 Savier

Liberty, Medrick (Olive) h 815 Savier

1915 – Bewsaw Geo D (Emma F) (Besaw & Liberty) h. 366 22nd N

Besaw & Liberty saloon 761 Savier

[Oregon Prohibition starts 4 years earlier than national both last until 1933]

1916 – Besaw Geo D (Emma F) h 366 21st n

No Saloon

No Rest

No Soft Drink


No Saloon

No Rest

Besaw & Liberty Soft Drinks 761 Savier

Besaw still at 366 21st n


Besaw & Liberty Soft Drinks 761 Savier (366 N 21st)

1919 (no directory that year)

1920 –No listing soft drinks

Liberty Merdrick (Olive) carmn h 815 Savier


no rest

no soft drink

Besaw Geo (Emma) conf 761 Savior Home 366 21st N

(Stands for Confectioners-Retail)


Besaw Geo soft drinks 761 Savior


Besaw Geo (Emma) soft drinks 761 Savier h 366 21st n

(Liberty Medrick wife Olive lives at 732 Thurman)


Besaw-Geo (Emma- Solo Club Restr ) h 366 21st n

Liberty Medrick (Olive) 732 Thurman

Solo Club Restaurant 761 Savier


No Besaw

Solo Club Restaurant 761 Savier


Solo Club Restaurant 761 Savier

Besaw Clyde C r 366 21st N

-Geo (Emma F) Solo Club Restr h 366 21st N


Besaw Clyde C. opr E E Daily r366 21st n

Geo D (Emma F.; Solo Club Restr) h 366 21st N

Solo Club Rest 761 Savier


Besaw Clyde C opr EE Daily r 366 [31] N

Geo D (Emma S) (Solo Club Restr) h 366 21st n

Solo Club Restaurant 761 Savier


Besaw Clyde C serviceman EE Daily r 366 N 21st

Besaw Geo (Emma) Solo Club h. 366 21st

No Solo Club in rest


Besaw Geo (Emma) restr 761 Savier h 366 21st n

Besaw Geo 761 Savier {under Restaurants}


Besaw Geo (Emma) rest 761 Savier h 366 21st n


Besaw Clyde C (June) cook

Geo D (Emma) restr 761 Savier h 366 21st n

Besaw 761 Savier



no directory published


Besaw Clyde (Irene) (Besaw’s Restaurant) SW 6790 Canby

Besaw’s Restaurant 2301 NW Savier St.


Besaw’s Restaurant 2301 NW Savier St.

Owned by Clyde and Mrs. Irene Besaw


Chester Besaw mech Columbia Body & Equip h 1715 NW 23rd Ave

No other Besaw last names in phonebook

No rest listing


no Besaw


(reverse directory) 2301 Vacant


(reverse directory) 2301 Vacant


No rest. Besaw


Library does not have


No last names Besaw

No rest.


(reverse directory) 2301 NW Savior St. No Return

1988 library does not have


Besaw’s Café [& Beesaw’s Café]2301 Savier

Slabtown Nob Hill Fun Fact #18: The Great Pretender

Slabtown Nob Hill Fun Fact #18: The Great Pretender

What was Eric Ladd’s Real Name?

Answer: Eric Ladd was born Leslie Carter Hansen on July 29, 1920.

Not only did he acquire amazing homes and meld together various elements.  His friends “borrowed” some iron fencing from Mark Twain’s house in Missouri and put the fencing around his grave. Courtesy Lone Fir

Leslie Carter Hansen attended Ainsworth Elementary School and Lincoln High School.  Eric Ladd was the name he adopted in 1941 when he studied acting presumedly had an acting career in Hollywood until 1943.  He returned to the area to become a shipyard worker in 1943.  He was handsome, debonair, and a connoisseur of elegant old buildings-predating-a formalized system of preservation, he was winging it.

There is a wonderful article in the Northwest Sunday Magazine on March 21, 1971 that details a number of the buildings that Eric attempted to save. Eric Ladd faced rampant demolition of historic structures not unlike the threats historic buildings see today in Portland as we face an increasing demand for multi-unit residential rental houses. Once the demand for parking drove demolitions – currently the demand for housing is driving the wave of demolitions.

The early days of the “Ladd Colony” Kamm on the left Lincoln House replica constructed for the 1905 Lewis & Clark Fair. (Image copyright is owned by the University of Oregon) Eric Ladd NW Magazine 1971

In the 1960s Ladd collected a number of historic buildings the way some elite collect antique cars.  The collection of homes, fondly called “the colony” stood on a two acre tract of land at SW 21st and Jefferson. He operated a restaurant out of the Kamm House from 1955 to 1959. The structures were moved there and all but one had been condemned by the City of Portland.  His home will be open to the public for twenty-five dollars on June 21st, 2015.

Eric was openly gay this OHS image is from a high society event.

Eric Ladd was one of the leaders in saving cast iron components of buildings being demolished during the 1960s Urban Renewal Era. He was also instrumental in saving the Pittock Mansion

Eric Ladd received the Northwest Examiner historic preservation award in 1994 and the Bosco-Milligan Foundation award in 1999.

Fun Facts #12 Would Jesus have shopped here?

He may not have been a regular customer, but many shoppers were very “faithful”
to this 23rd Avenue business.
Image Credit Mike Ryerson

Would Jesus have shopped here?

When Jon Heil opened his Better Beef & Bible store in the summer of 1976, rents for prime retail spaces on the not-yet-Trendy-Third Avenue were still very inexpensive. The sharp young marketing graduate took a chance and opened a small shop in the former Arrow Ambulance office at the corner of NW 23rd & Hoyt Street to specialized in what he loved best. Good quality beef,and the good book.Heil, who was a Christian, had been a sales-man for Attilla Meat Company, so he knew his merchandise well.  His unique business served the neighborhood until the early 1980s . . . mostly with beef.

Fun Facts #6: Its not Christmas without Elvis

Fun Facts #6: Its not Christmas without Elvis

DJ Fired for Playing Presley Record

Found a free source of Elvis Presley’s 1957 version of this song-listen for yourself. I do not have the set list from Elvis’s performance to a crowd of 14,000 at the Multnomah Civic Stadium on September 2, 1957. Lots of great details about his time in Portland on a Elvis fan site including images and recorded interviews.

Portland’s KEX Radio banned Elvis Presley’s recordingof “White Christmas” from being played on the air.  One popular deejay at the radio station ignored his boss and it cost him his job.  When radio station KEX received a copy of “Elvis’ Christmas Album” in 1957, the management made the decision not to air the “White Christmas” cut.  Disc jockey Al Priddy figured station manager Mel Bailey wouldn’t be listening late on a
Sunday night, so he gave it a spin.  Unfortunately, Bailey was tuned-in and he promptly
called the station and told Priddy to finish his show and then look for a new job.  “The record was banned because it is not in the good taste we ascribe to Christmas music,” he
told the Oregonian. “Presley gives it a rhythm and blues interpretation. It doesn’t seem to me to be in keeping with the intent of the song,” he added.  Al Priddy returned to the work at the station several weeks later and all was forgotten.  In 1987, at age 78, he was invited to be a guest disc jockey at KEX so he could play Elvis’ “White Christmas” one more time.

Mike’s Fun Facts (2014-2015) were produced monthly by Mike Ryerson and Tanya Lyn March PhD partners of Mike’s History Tours.

Fun Fact #26 The seedlings of Portland’s Heritage Monkey Puzzle Trees citywide can trace their origins to what Slabtown Event?

Fun Fact #26 The seedlings of Portland’s Heritage Monkey Puzzle Trees citywide can trace their origins to what Slabtown Event?

Context Monkey Puzzle Tree:

Tour Guide Dr. Tanya March pointing to the Monkey Tree at Kennedy School
(Photo Credit Jen Dawkins March 2016)

Monkey Puzzle trees look like a Dr. Seuss illustration of a tree come to life.  In 1993 there were at least 150 trees of this variety in Portland—at least a third of those had “roots” in Slabtown.  The Monkey Tree (Araucaria araucana) is native to Chile, and like our historic homes its numbers are dwindling.  The males have oblong cones and the females have round cones—all of our city’s heritage trees of this type are male.  In their native Chilean mountain habitat they can reach a height of 100 feet and can live for 2,000 years.

Chile’s national tree, which dates back to the dinosaur era, is listed as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Global Red List of Conifers.  In their native habitats these trees have suffered from climate change and massive fires in 2001–02 and 2014 have reduced their numbers by 50%.  There are a number of active online groups mapping the locations of the trees in our city and a Facebook Group “Monkey Puzzle Trees of PDX“.


The seedlings of Portland’s Heritage Monkey Puzzle Trees citywide can trace their origins to what Slabtown Event?


The 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, where seedlings were given away by a representative from Chile and planted by their recipients citywide.  Three Monkey Puzzle Trees from the Fair are protected heritage trees standing at 419 NE Hazelfern, 415 NE Laurelhurst, and 446 NE Fargo.  Link to map of these trees in Oregon created by Carol Studenman:


(The two best 1905 examples of Monkey Puzzle Trees are in Laurelhurst.)

Fun Facts are produced monthly by Tanya Lyn March PhD owner of Slabtown Tours to join our mailing list simply e-mail:

Fun Fact # 55 Marge Davenport, a staff writer for the Oregon Journal and author of several short story collections, wrote about many amazing dogs. Which dog from her books was the star of a silent film produced in Portland?

Fun Fact # 55 Marge Davenport, a staff writer for the Oregon Journal and author of several short story collections, wrote about many amazing dogs.  Which dog from her books was the star of a silent film produced in Portland?

Fun fact #55: Marge Davenport, a staff writer for the Oregon Journal and author of several short story collections, wrote about many amazing dogs. Which dog from her books was the star of a silent film produced in Portland?

Bobbie at The Reo restaurant at South Water St., Silverton.
Courtesy Vades Crockett, Silverton

The Brazier family of Silverton, Oregon—Frank, Elizabeth, Leona, and Nova—were the owners of Bobbie, a Scotch-collie dog was born in 1921. In 1923, when the Braziers were visiting relatives in Wolcott, Indiana, two-year-old Bobbie was attacked by three other dogs and fled. The Braziers searched for him around Wolcott, but eventually gave    up and returned home.



Where did the 3,000-mile journey of Bobbie the Wonder dog take him?

Oregonian (published as The Sunday Oregonian.) February 24, 1924 page 12



What made Bobbie so famous is that he travelled 3,000 miles to get home. Six months after going missing, “wonder dog” Bobbie came home, breaking the bedroom window to greet his master. Witnesses claimed Bobbie’s six-month, 3,000-mile journey started with him walking in ever-widening circles. Bobbie met lots of people on the way home to Silverton—one boy was nice enough to take Bobbie in and restore him to health. Bobbie then escaped and headed west and down the Gorge into Portland. Going south from there, Bobbie finally got back to Silverton.

The Call of the West featuring The wonder Dog “Bobbie” 1924 35mm nitrate film

A group of Portlanders made a silent film called “The Call of the West” , presented by the Columbia Feature Film Syndicate and featuring the actual Wonder Dog “Bobbie”. The film was directed by E. N. Camp, the scenario and title were by S. E. Chambers, and it was photographed by F. C. Heaton and Fred St John. The movie takes place before the family left for Wolcott, Indiana, presenting a fictional story using Bobbie the collie as the star. The plot begins with the dog being taken and driven off by a truck. Then the boy the dog belongs to in the movie gets help because he cannot drive to rescue his dog. He gets Bobbie back. He tries to convince a baseball team called the Tigers to let him be the team’s manager but a boy on the team said he has to pay for the team (or, as the boy puts, it “produce the coin”). He sells his dog to get the money for the baseball team but he steals Bobbie back from the man he sold Bobbie to. Link to watch the Movie. Link to Silverton Road Trip (since like me you’re stuck home out of school and can’t road trip right now. News story about Bobbie’s legacy).

Author of this Fun Fact was Berkeley Sherman’s Guest Author Age 12.  My son will be excited when school reopens.

Serious Fact #55.5 How Many Portlanders Died of the Spanish Influenza?

Serious Fact #55.5 How Many Portlanders Died of the Spanish Influenza?

Spanish Flu in Portland. October 10, 1918 to January 26, 1919, Portland had 16,633 reported cases of the Spanish Flu and 1,170 deaths. Former classmate and fellow PhD Andree Tremoulet assisted me with this graphic.

Today’s national news references to the 1918–1919 Spanish Influenza pandemic have focused on the contrasting experience of two cities—Philadelphia and St. Louis. In the face of the pandemic in September 1918, Philadelphia held a parade; over the next six months 16,000 residents died. St. Louis canceled its parade; its death toll was only 700. I wanted to learn more about Portland during the Spanish Flu—in particular how many people died in the 1918–1919 flu season? My article on the local quarantine history of that era will appear in the April issue of the NW Examiner. Until I can once again lead walking tours, I will continue to be a Portland history detective!

The answer: From October 10, 1918 to January 26, 1919, Portland had 16,633 reported cases of the Spanish Flu and 1,170 deaths (at that time Portland’s population was around 250,000). I spent weeks looking for daily reports of deaths in the local papers. Even when I found a hand-drawn chart prepared under the direction of Dr. A. C. Seely—which tabulated daily cases as reported to the city health bureau, the state board, and the consolidated health board for city and county—there was no summary data. I had to input Seely’s figures into Excel to show the answer.

City Comparison:

Nurse wearing a mask as protection against influenza. September 13, 1918. In October of 1918, Congress approved a $1 million budget for the U. S. Public Health Service to recruit 1000 medical doctors and over 700 registered nurses. Nurses were scarce, as their proximity to and interaction with the disease increased the risk of death. Record held at: National Archives at College Park, MD. Record number 165-WW-269B-5.

In February 1919, the Oregon Journal reported on deaths in various cities, but omitted a figure for Portland—so I added it back in. (The lack of record in the press is similar to my challenges years ago when looking for information on the smallpox cemetery. Out-of-state news press had more information on Portland than did our local press, which historically had wanted to boost Portland’s image and downplay the negative news.)

City-by city death toll as reported in the Oregon Journal 2/12/19 (with Portland’s figure included):

  • 18,590 Philadelphia
  • 14,563 New York
  • 7,584 Chicago
  • 3,165 San Francisco
  • 2,611 Los Angeles
  • 1,401 Kansas City
  • 1,170 Portland
  • 143 Louisville
  • 94 Grand Rapids
  • 59 Atlanta
  • 81,427 deaths in US

Links to great resources for further study: National Archives “The Deadly Virus”

A link to Portland on the Influenza Archive which uses a great methodology to determine the rate of death in 50 large US cities produced by Influenza Encyclopedia University of Michigan Library with funding from the CDC.  Their findings for Portland are higher than mine and worth exploration.