Philomath from around 1908 into the early 1920s saw a number of improvements in the city’s business district. Antiquated buildings were replaced with cement, which could offer strength and permanency and less overhead in insurance.

That’s what the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported in its Aug. 15, 1923 edition. Not only were aged buildings replaced, but collateral damage also occurred to symbols of natural beauty in Philomath. Following is an item from that edition reporting on the demise of an old apple tree.

“One by one the ancient landmarks of Philomath are being removed to make way for progress. This time it is not a prominent citizen or a ramshackle building but ‘an old apple tree.’

“This tree grew on Main Street, its great branches reaching far out over the sidewalk. Beneath those branches have passed countless footsteps, young and old for perhaps more than sixty years. The hand that planted it, those who partook of its fruit are gone. The old gnarled tree, a harbor for birds, and mice, fell with a crash on Tuesday but few were near to mourn.

“Year after year it bore a heavy crop of apples that fell, mostly upon the sidewalk to trip the passer by, for they were cider apples, a beverage now forgotten, and forbidden, and little fit to eat, they lay thickly strewn around. This tree grew on the old north property between the Review office and McMurtry’s grocery store.

“Fifteen years ago an old landmark of a house stood on this quarter black. When the Hathaway building, now in course of erection is completed, there will be four modern cement buildings.”

Today, the city has its Philomath Heritage Tree Program, which was established just last year. Earlier this year, the first five trees in the program were celebrated.

150 years ago

Newport pleasures: The travel to the beach, west of this place, seems to be setting in in good earnest. A private note, of recent date, informs us that “quite a number of wagons are at Newport and pleasure-seekers quite numerous.” On last Sabbath, Hon J.B. Underwood, Postal Agent, and family, of Eugene, arrived in this city, en route for Yaquina Bay. They took the stage for Philomath where they expected to join the remainder of their party consisting of Judge Thompson, C.W. Fitch, J.R. Ream, and families. They have three wagons, plenty of provisions, camp equipage, etc., including cook-stove and cook. They expect to go over on South Beach and remain a couple of months or so. (Published Aug. 9, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette).

125 years ago

News items: Mr. Campbell, of Corvallis, began the erection of J.E. Henkle’s store buildings Wednesday morning. … Robert McFarland, of Summit, is in the city. … Mrs. Ella Jones, of Portland, is visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Boles. … J.J. Bryan, Ed. L. Bryan and George Brown returned from the coast Monday. (Published Aug. 12, 1898, in the Corvallis Gazette).

100 years ago

Dance class: Corvallis pupils of Miss Dorothy Moore’s dancing class participated in the program put on at Philomath recently for the benefit of the Philomath Women’s Club, when members of the club and Philomath citizens assisted. Those from Corvallis were Misses Ruby and Edna Cheney, Violet Ledbetter, Viola Hobbs, Doris Byland, Alice Ashes and little Doris and Ellen Mahr. (Published Aug. 15, 1923, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

75 years ago

Philomath library: The Philomath Library board held a special meeting Thursday to take the place of the usual meeting held on the fourth Monday night. Acting Librarian Mrs. Ted Ward was appointed permanent librarian. A count of all books in the library showed a total of 2,200 with 365 borrowers registered. Using the 1940 census which the State Library uses, slightly over 50 percent of the citizens use the library. (Published Aug. 13, 1948, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

50 years ago

Middle school: Officials of the Philomath School District, who have waited for more than three years to open their middle school, will have to wait a while longer. Opening of the new $1.3 million school has been delayed. The opening originally had been scheduled for Sept. 4, the date set for the resumption of classes in the district’s other schools. However, according to Supt. Al Neet and Principal Ron Ball, the opening has been delayed for an estimated nine weeks. The primary reason for the new school not being ready for fall classes is a series of labor strikes. Less than two weeks ago, workers returned to the middle school project after an absence of four weeks. The reason was a strike by the operating engineers union. This week, construction was again delayed by striking workers — this time by the carpenters and laborers unions. How long that strike will last is not known. (Published Aug. 14, 1973, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.