A GUIDED TOUR TO HISTORIC BUILDINGS IN JOHN DAY AND CANYON CITY
Prepared by Susan Garrison, John Day, Oregon, 1984 and placed on this website with
permission from the author.
Grant County was created Oct. 14, 1864 from parts of Wasco and Umatilla Counties and named
for General Ulysses S. Grant. In 1862 gold was discovered near Canyon City and $26,000,000 in gold
was taken out. Canyon City was larger than Portland at that time. John Day [named for a hunter
employed by the Pacific Fur Co. in 1810] was settled about this same time as kind of an overflow from
Canyon City. John Day had a large Chinese population. They worked as miners, street cleaners, cooks,
sheep herders, cowboys, doctors, and merchants among other things. After mining died down, agriculture became the
most important industry and along with timer is still important. Canyon City had three major fires that
destroyed much of the city each time -- in 1870, 1898, and 1937.
Although there are many buildings throughout Grant County of historical and architectual significance, I have chosen
to include only buildings in the John Day/Canyon City area so that a tour could be completed in an afternoon. The
tour begins at the Herman and Eliza Oliver Historical Museum and ends at the Kam Wah Chung Museum, definately two of
the finest museums in the state. Be on the lookout for other buildings that space did not permit me to use.
Please do not trespass on the privacy of the people who live in the private homes but view them from the street.
I hope you enjoy the buildings that I have selected and Have Fun!
A map is provided in the center of this brochure for your convenience.
Adventist Church -
N.E. corner of W. Main and N.W. Bridge St., John Day
This is a one story, wood frame building in the Gothic Revival style. Special architectual
aspects include the square bell tower, the double entry doors with lancet transom above,
and the elaborate rope-like bargeboards on the gable roof sections. This magnificent church
was built by Brother Hope about 1882. It has been very well maintained by the Seventh Day
St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
135 S. Washington St., Canyon City
Beautifully preserved and restored this church has miraculously stood through two
major fires that destroyed much of Canyon City. It was designed and built by the
Rev. R.D. Nevius in 1876 who was her first Rector. The style of architecture is
Gothic Revival with steeply pitched roof, pointed window frames and undergirded by
heavy timbers whipsawed from trees in nearby forests. It rests on sandstone blocks
cut from local quarries.
John Day Opera House
Presently Valley Baptist Church
The John Day Opera House never had an opera! However, many movies were shown. When
Mr. Peterson, the movie operator, was ready to begin he would go out on the street and
sound his bugle as a signal. This Romanesque building built in 1914 has three bays on each of its
three stories. It is the largest stone building in John Day and one of the largest in Grant County.
101 N. Washington, Canyon City
Herman Putzien was a very well known photographer and lived in the house around
the turn of the century. In the late 1880's it was known as "Molly's House".
Molly did not move in polite circles but is said to have had a thriving business.
Built in 1889, this is a one story, wood frame, vernacular building with a stone
foundation and basement.
102 N. Washington, Canyon City
Originally built for a local merchant, Louis Waldenberg, and later inhabited by his
neice, Freida, this house is in the Flat Front Italianate style with decorative brackets
under the eaves and stone cellar recessed into the hill. The Colonial Revival porch was
added later. A rock with the date 1865 was found at the sight but the house is believed
to have been constructed in 1898.
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©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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