|Brookings 1930 to 1950|
|(The following comments were taken from a 1932 Financial Statement of Brookings)|
"The future of Brookings looks exceedingly bright, particularly under the guidance of W.J. Ward and associates. Mr. W.J. Ward is a graduate of the engineering school of Cornell University, a man who has been closely identified with the development of Curry County since 1906, a man of good business judgement and sterling character. Yes, the future of Brookings is, indeed, bright."
~~~~~W.A. Swanson. Accountant/Auditor, November 2, 1932
"In conclusion, I further recommend that all buildings to be erected should be of Spanish Mission architecture, with red tile roofs. This is particularly true of all buildings north of Chetco Ave. This would brighten the hillside and make a spot which would be remembered by tourists and transients passing through the town."
~~~~~E.F. Sullivan. Construction Engineer, November 1932
|By 1930 everything changed, particularly the players. John and Robert Brookings were gone. The Stouts were gone. The ships were sold.|
The day the mill closed, the town went from a population of 1,500 to 200.
On April 1, 1930, Bill Ward purchased all of the C & O Lumber Company holdings within the platted town area and most of the adjoining land. In 1931, he hired Elmer Bankus to handle his fund-raising and be his ways-and-means man. Bankus was a land developer in Portland, Oregon and was recommended to Bill Ward by The Oregonian.
According to Joel Buffington, The S.S. Brookings became a pet food processing plant in the Oakland Bay. She was later purchased by a French shipping line and set sail for Europe and was never heard of again. The S.S. Necanicum continued to sail up and down the coast for a number of years and was to become known as Ole Nick. Elmer Bankus talked about her.
In 1933, Bill Ward sold 600 acres on Gardner Ridge to the Seventh Day Adventists in the Imperial Valley, California. It was the Dust Bowl days in Oklahoma and the Imperial Valley was being overrun by the Oakies (the grapes of wrath). A group of Adventists found their home in Brookings and immediately started building a mill on Marsh Road off Gardner Ridge. To do their building, the Adventists talked a young Adventist by the name of Cecil Watt into coming to Brookings to build the mill and houses for the Adventists.
The mill that Cecil built is gone as are most of the houses, but one or two of the houses still stand. In 1998, I took Cecil back to Gardner Ridge and to the house he built for himself and his wife Margerite. The home is still being lived in today. In 1934, Bill Ward wrote the following letter to President Roosevelt.
October 30, 1934
During the last few days, press reports have indicated that the Administration is about to formulate plans to present to Congress looking toward a broadening of Federal work and a consequent lessening of work relief and direct relief. It is further indicated from these reports that the scope of the new plan will closely follow that previously formulated under the Public Works Administration and, in addition, the inauguration of a more intensive campaign pertaining to the government housing activities, both urban and rural. The subsistence homesteads of rural industrial communities will also come in for careful consideration.
|The dock at Brookings Port failed and eventually succumbed to the sea. The railroad bridge across the Chetco River caught fire and was totally burned. The old mill burned down. The mercantile store became an old junkyard full of WW-II salvage items and was purchased by Henry Kerr where Henry's daughter, Carolyn opened a hardware store. The Saint George Hotel and the annex across the street were taken down and the commissary is now owned by Richard and Letty Lee and is the home of the Dragon Gate Restaurant.|
A community library was opened in the attic of the Central Building and the building became the offices of Elmer Bankus, president and owner of the Brookings Land and Townsite Company, The Curry Coastal Pilot and The Brook-Ply Company. Plans were drawn for a Shriner's Hall in the attic but it never was completed. That project died when Bill Ward died.
Bill Ward died in March of 1936. His last letter was to his partner Elmer Bankus who was in Portland. His letter instructed Elmer to raise $7,000 by whatever means he could and meet him (Bill Ward) in Eugene in two weeks. Bill wrote that he had to see a doctor because he was bleeding at both ends but he would be OK soon. Bill died the following week. Bill needed money to lease and purchase potential oil-producing land in San Bernardino County, California.
The town passed to Elmer Bankus in March 1936 the day that Bill Ward died. Elmer did wonders with the town. He held it together by making real estate sales and deals which enabled him to pay taxes when there was no other money for taxes.
Bankus's first act of goodness was his giving Bill Ward's widow, Nancy, the row of houses located on Redwood Street so that she would have a home for her and her children plus rental income. In Bill Ward's quest for funds, he put every asset he owned into the Brookings Land and Townsite Company including his own home. He, in turn, borrowed money on these assets. When he died, the company passed to Bankus, leaving Bankus the sole owner of the Bill Ward estate, whatever it was, and it included all of his real property. Bankus also inherited the debts.
Elmer died in September 1973.
The estate of Elmer Bankus, which was the assets of the Brookings Land and Townsite Company, was sold by the trustees for approximately 2.5 million dollars. The Central Building along with the company name, Brookings Land and Townsite Company, were purchased by myself, Eldon M. Gossett, in August of 1977. After three years of restoration, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.
Recently, Robert Brookings' name came up again in the Wall Street Journal in an article titled "The U.S. Clothespin Had Day In Sun But Now Feels Pinch" by William M. Buckley.
Fortunes have been built -- well, one fortune was built -- on clothespins. Robert S. Brookings, the St. Louis merchant who later established the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., began his career as a traveling salesman who, a competitor said, "could take a common clothespin and persuade a housewife it had virtues beyond all other clothes pins."
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|Eldon Gossett - Brookings Land and Townsite Real Estate Company|
703 Chetco Ave. ~ PO Box 4610 ~ Brookings OR 97415
Ph: 1-800-342-9405 or 541-469-7755 ~ Fax:541-469-7858
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