Extraordinary in Its Utter Simplicity

Hello from the History Department –

Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn will rock and roll the old poor farm this week! Hello, summer!

So when you’re there in that wonderful venue, enjoying a show along with thousands of others, do not for one second think to simply walk past one of the best little joints in the universe – the fabled Little Red Shed. Stop and pay your respects, in whatever manner you see fit.

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Originally, and for decades, this diminutive building served ingloriously as Multnomah County’s poor farm’s incinerator, burning paper refuse from the property. Its design was wholly utilitarian: a basic wooden structure with a big brick chimney. In 1990, when we unearthed the old incinerator from beneath generations of tangled blackberry thickets, it was worse for the wear, but wonderfully inviting in its plainness.

The place received a new lease on life. But it wasn’t until people crowded into the place – shoulder-to-shoulder, standing, seated, talking, laughing, glasses of whiskey, beer and wine in hand – did the Little Red Shed forever become something extraordinary in its utter simplicity.

It takes only 15 to 20 people to “crowd” the place, and it’s at that point that strangers begin to converse, novel ideas take flight and new paths are revealed. It’s happened time and again.

Like when Michael Murphy, author of Golf in the Kingdom, visited Edgefield. That night in the Red Shed, Murphy along with Mike and Brian McMenamin and a few other folks communed with some fine whiskey and proceeded to plot and then literally pace off a Scottish-style golf course around the property. . . . Thus, the Pub Course was born.

The Little Red Shed’s evolution to gathering place perfection became a veritable road map for other McMenamins’ spaces to attain that lofty evolutionary peak, more commonly known now as “the small bar.”

2 Comments

  1. Jim on June 12, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    In the wee…
    immense fun 🌞🌙

  2. Amy on June 13, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Do you have any photos to share of what it looked like when you first :”unearthed” it in 1990 ?

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