The building that today houses McMenamins Oregon City was constructed in 1930 as the parish hall for the town’s pioneering 1851 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Years of church functions, wedding receptions and community events still resonate here. Meanwhile, the lots surrounding St. Paul’s property became populated with a diverse assortment of neighbors – the Oregon City Brewery, the Clackamas County Courthouse, the Liberty Theater, along with the constant waterlife playing out just down the bank to the north, where the Willamette River flows.
It was an adventureland for children, and in the 1930s, the five Mockford kids – whose father, the Rev. A.J. Mockford, was rector for St. Paul’s – enjoyed the spectacle, curiosities and attractions of their surroundings. Many of their recollections, and in particular, those of eldest sibling Stuart Mockford, are depicted in the artwork that adorns the walls of their old parish hall. In 1994, McMenamins initiated a new chapter, by transforming the longtime church building into the Oregon City Pub, while nurturing its tradition of being a place for special gatherings and an observation point for life as it flows around us.
Recently, our McMenamins artists completed some new artwork for the pub. Here are just two of the many new panels that have been or are soon to be placed in the pub. Photography credit below goes to Tim Hills; don’t give up your day job just yet, Tim.
While these short descriptions give you an idea of the work that went into these new panels, it is worth a daytrip to Oregon City to see them all up close. Make a day of it – lunch at the pub, maybe a stop by the river, see if you can spot an eel or a giant sturgeon….
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Artist Eona Lorberbaum’s colorful panorama offers a view of Willamette Falls as seen through Oregon City’s historic Arch Bridge. In the foreground, seated in the boat, is Stu Mockford. As a young man in the 1930s, Stu enjoyed many adventures at and around what now is the pub property. At the time, his father served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Stu recalled that the river then was choked with paddle wheelers and fish, including lots of eels.
Shown next to Stu is his wife, Peggy. They were married at St. Paul’s in 1940 by Stu’s dad. The couple is depicted on a romantic water picnic, circa 1945, complete with a lute for serenading. Their craft is a wild-looking paddle boat, Eona’s nod to Stu’s proclivity for building all kinds of non-traditional vehicles.
Driving across the bridge is another crazy craft built by Stu: a Rolls Royce body on a VW Bug, which is also depicted in our next panel….
Olivia Behm’s panel depicts Stu Mockford flying over Oregon City as it looked in his childhood, with the old Courthouse looming over the church (if you look carefully, you’ll see the church and rectory highlighted in the same color as the car).
Stu is flying the aforementioned Rolls/Bug “hybrid” he built (note the hubcaps). A terrific harmonica player, Stu is depicted by Olivia playing as he pilots this non-traditional craft. The little orange flag attached to the windshield frame sports the logo for Timberline Lodge, referencing Stu’s love of skiing and the fact that he was part of the construction crew of the lodge.
The serpent in the water was inspired by Stu’s recollections that the Willamette River was home to a proliferation of eels and a giant sturgeon. Just barely visible in this shot, you can see someone peeking from behind a curtain in the house on the right, just beyond Stu. Who do you think that is?