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Sigismund A. Heilner House

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1880. 1839 2nd St.

With gold mining in the region in full swing in the 1880s, and with the 1884 arrival of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, which provided connections to Portland and Salt Lake City, Baker City prospered and its population jumped from 1,258 inhabitants in 1880 to roughly 6,700 people in 1900. With this growth came businesses that supported the local mining industry, along with lumber mills, an iron foundry, a hotel, and an assortment of mercantile stores, including a department store owned by German-Jewish pioneer Sigismund Heilner. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Heilner and many other successful businessmen built fashionable houses at the edges of the central business district.

In 1880, Heilner and his wife, Clara Neuberger Heilner, built a Second Empire house on the southwest corner of Court Avenue and Second Street, two blocks west of their Main Street store. The house represents high-style residential design in what was, at the time, essentially a frontier mining community. Unlike contemporaneous designs in larger cities like Portland or San Francisco, here the house is relatively low, with just one story under its second-story mansard roof; typically houses of this type were much taller, with their vertical orientation emphasized by tall, narrow windows. Here, three dormers project from the mansard roof on each elevation, and projecting window bays flank the entrances on the east and north elevations. The main (east) entry consists of paired double doors beneath a veranda that extends the length of the facade; a secondary entrance on the north elevation is sheltered by a projecting porch roof. Paired decorative brackets grace the eaves of the main roof, the bay windows, and the side porch.

Descendants of the Heilners continuously occupied the house until 1988, after the death of Clara’s nephew, Herman David. The house was bequeathed to the Oregon Historical Society, but has since been purchased for use as a private residence and financial services office.

References

Andrews, Wesley. “Baker City in the Eighties.” Oregon Historical Quarterly 50 (1942): 84-97.

Baker City Centennial Album. Baker, OR: Baker Printing Lithography, 1974.

Dielman, Gary. “Neuberger Family in Business in Baker City, Oregon, 1874–2004.” Dielman’s Essays on Eastern Oregon History, Baker City Library Archive, Baker City, Oregon, May 2005 (Rev. October 2008).

Federal Writers’ Project, Works Progress Administration. Oregon: End of the Trail. Portland, OR: Binfords and Mort, 1940.

Hiatt, Isaac. Thirty-one Years in Baker County. Baker City, OR: Abbot and Poster, 1893.

Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company. Gold Fields of Eastern Oregon. Portland, OR: Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company, c. 1895.

Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company. This Will Interest You Webfoot Bonanzas. Portland, OR: Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company, 1899.

Potter, Miles P. Oregon’s Golden Years. Caxton, ID: Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1976.

Rand, Helen B. Gold, Jade and Elegance. Baker, OR: The Record-Courier Printers, 1974.

Stewart, Patricia Gordon. Baker County Sketchbook. Baker, OR: The Record-Courier Printers, 1956.

Van Duyn, James H. Personal interviews with Herman David, Sanford Heilner, Edith Gildersleeve, Edna Pollman Hash, and Loy Wisdom, Baker, Oregon, 1977; and Arthur A. Hart, Boise, Idaho, 1977.

Van Duyn, James N., “Baker Historic District,” Baker County, Oregon. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1978. (Additions by James M. Hamrick, 1996). National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Van Duyn, Pamela C. “Baker City's First Twenty-five Years.” Unpublished manuscript, Eugene, Oregon, 1977.

Wisdom, Loy Winter. John William Wisdom: Pioneer. Baker, OR: Baker Printing and Lithography, 1974.

Wisdom, Loy Winter. Memories: Ninety Years of Baker CityBaker, OR: Baker Printing and Lithography, 1976.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Leland M. Roth
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Data

Timeline

  • 1887

    Built

What's Nearby

Citation

Leland M. Roth, "Sigismund A. Heilner House", [Baker City, Oregon], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/OR-01-001-0051.

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