National Registry of Historic Places
The downtown The Dalles Commercial Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The boundaries of the district were determined by distinct changes in topography and land use: on the north, the southern right-of-way of Interstate 84; on the east, a shift in land use to residential and light industry; to the south, residential uses and the first tier of basalt bluffs that conforms to the terrain of The Dalles and to the west, additional residential land uses. Trevitt’s Addition National Register Historic District abuts the Commercial District on the west.
In 1997 an update of the District was funded and the project re-evaluated the classifications of the resources. Some of the resources previously listed as Historic Non-Contributing were reclassified as Contributing resources because of new historic information and restoration efforts that took place in the 10 years since being listed. The period of significance was also adjusted to include the resources built during the late 1930s and 1945. Contributing resources include 18 Primary-Contributing, 26 Secondary-Contributing, 19 Historic but Non-Contributing. Three properties were previously listed on the National Register prior to the listing of the Commercial District.
Properties on the National Register of Historic Places include:
- The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce
- Baldwin Saloon
- Carnegie Library / The Dalles Art Center
- Wing Hong Tai Co. (Chinese Building)
- City Hall / The Dalles Fire Museum
- City Park / Ezra Meeker Marker
- Civic Auditorium
- Columbia Brewery (1867)
- Court Street Apartments / Commodore II
- Granada Theatre (1929)
- (I.C. Nickelsen Book Store / Klindt’s Book Sellers & Stationers
- Isabella Gray House / Harding House / Planetree Resource Center
- J.C. Penney (1914)
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- Sharp Houses (1895-1905) 400-404 E. 4th St.
- Sunshine Biscuit Mill
- The Dalles Branch Mint (Freebridge Brewing)
- The Dalles Post Office (1916) Southwest corner of Union & 2nd St.
- Thompson House (1889) 209 W. 3rd
- Waldron Drug Store / Gitchell Building
- Wasco County Courthouse #2, 311 Union St.
- Wasco County Courthouse #3, 5th & Washington
- St. Paul’s Episcopal
- Congregational Church
Note: The Original Wasco County Courthouse is listed in the Trevitt Addition Historic District.
What’s historic that is NOT on the National Register?
The Dalles Branch Mint, home to Freebridge Brewery.
Stadelman Ice House, home to Sedition Brewing.
The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce (1937)
404 West Second Street
Toll free: 1-800-255-3385 • Local: (541) 296-2231
The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce building has been used continuously as a Visitor Center as well as housing the headquarters for area economic development and business support. Maps available for self-guided downtown historical walking tour.
Downtown Murals produced by The Dalles Mural Society, in the downtown Commercial Historic District
Walk in the downtown area and view the spectacular wall murals picturing historic events, illustrated by renown Pacific Northwest artists. Obtain keys at The Dalles Chamber of Commerce for the “talking box” located at each mural to tell the story as recorded by historians, Native Americans, or the artist that created them.
Baldwin Saloon (1877)
205 E. Court St.
One of the oldest commercial buildings in the downtown Historic District. Built as a restaurant, this building became a saloon operated by the Baldwin brothers, James and John about 1877. The Baldwin family owned the building until the early 1940s. In 1962 it was used for a saddle shop known as Bonney Saddle Shop. Once again a restaurant, the Baldwin offers fine dining in an historic setting. Near the backbar is a beautifully painted photograph of a young woman named Carrie Reichwein, done by Wilbur Hayes in 1899. This intriguing piece won first place in the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 and 1906.
Carnegie Library (1910) / The Dalles Art Center
220 East Fourth Street
Built in 1910 with a donation of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie for use as a library, this building is one of the 2,509 libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie. The Carnegie Library was opened in 1910 and served as The Dalles-Wasco County Library until 1966. It became The Dalles Art Center in 1967 with a 10 year lease from the city. The lease was renewed for another 10 years after considerable discussion and effort – the building was also nominated for & then placed on the National Register for Historic Buildings at that time (the city had been contemplating tearing it down). In 1997 the city deeded the building to The Dalles Art Association who has since done major renovations and remodeling to the building, including the addition of an elevator. and
The building is now used an art gallery and open to the public. People can learn about local artists, enjoy locally produced art work, & tour the building.
Wing Hong Tai Company (Chinese Building) (1878)
210 East First Street
The Wing Hong Tai Company building (known as the Chinese Building) was built in 1878, replacing a structure that had burned in the 1877 fire. It was built as a fire-proof structure, with a layer of bricks on the roof. Its floor and roof were raised after 1882 to meet the new street grade that was raised by the RR construction. After the railroad was built, the first street area was no longer the main business district, so the businesses moved to Second and Third streets. It became Chinatown with saloons, brothels, and second hand stores, etc. The building was used as a Chinese laundry and merchandise store from about the 1880’s to the 1920’s. After that it was a dairy distribution building, furniture storage and a work shop. View from the exterior only.
The Dalles City Hall (1908) and The Dalles Fire Dept. Museum
313 Court Street.
The Dalles was incorporated in 1857, making it the third oldest incorporated city in Oregon. The city hall building was built in 1908 for $30,000, on a colonial style with stucco exterior and brick trim.
The Dalles Fire Dept. Museum
The first fire department in The Dalles began in 1859 as the Hook & Ladder Co. #1. The Dalles Fire Dept. Museum opened in 2009. The museum showcases two antique fire engines, including a pumper dated 1859, photos, and antique fire-fighting gear. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon-Fri. Free Admission. Enter through City Hall main door, 313 Court Street. (541) 296-5481.
City Park and Ezra Meeker’s “End of the Oregon Trail” Marker (1905)
The Dalles City Park, 7th & Union Streets
This marker was dedicated by Ezra Meeker in the early 1900’s. Meeker was an Oregon Trail emigrant and an advocate for preserving the Oregon Trail. He came to The Dalles on a journey to re-traced the Oregon Trail, traveling by covered wagon pulled by a team of oxen.
The Dalles Civic Auditorium (1921)
323 East Fourth Street
Built in 1921 at a cost of $80,000 as a tribute to veterans. Features a gym and ballroom with a floating dance floor, one of only three such dance floors in the state of Oregon. (A second floating dance floor is also located in The Dalles at the Elks Temple; the third is at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland.) In 1960 it was closed for safety concerns, reopened in 1999. The building now serves as a site for concerts, community events, weddings, and more.
Columbia Brewery (1867)
Established in 1867 by Charles Schanno. Heidelberg beer originated here in The Dalles. The brewery closed January 1, 1916 when prohibition in Oregon took effect. Located at the foot of Brewery Grade on East 2nd. The building is not open to the public; view from the exterior only. For years used as a warehouse, the building was put up for sale in 2016.
United Church of Christ, Congregational (1937)
111 E 5th St.
Established in 1859 by Rev. W.A. Tenny as the Congregational United Church, the congregation initially met in the original Wasco County Courthouse until the lice and bawdy hymn lyrics sung by prisoners in the jail motivated them to find more hospitable quarters. Current building is an example of English country Gothic architecture. The church’s second pastor, Dr. Rev. Thomas Condon, went on to became Oregon’s first state geologist, and in 1876 was appointed as University of Oregon’s first professor of geology. Condon was instrumental in establishing the John Day Fossil Bed area. The current structure, built in 1937, is now the home for the United Church of Christ Congregational of The Dalles.
Court Street Apartments (1906) Commodore II
312 Court Street
When the Commodore was built in 1906, it served as a Masonic Lodge. The Commodore II is now a restored mixed use, four story, multi-tenant commercial and residential building. The top floor is used as commercial office space, the second and third floors are private apartments, the main level is used for commercial space. For many years the apartments at the Commodore were considered a stylish and much desired place to live, but over the years the building fell into disrepair, and was eventually closed to the public. Developer Terry Cook purchased the building and renovated it with the goal of maintaining the historic character. One apartment is furnished in 1920’s style, complete with pull-down “murphy bed.” This apartment is available for viewing during the Commodore’s annual open house. Historic photographs by noted local photographer Wilma Roberts hang in the lobby.
Granada Theatre (1929)
223 E. 2nd & Washington St.
When it opened, the Granada was the first theater west of the Mississippi River built with the capability of showing the new “Talkies” movies. Closed in the early 1990’s, reopen in 1996, closed again in 2004, reopened in 2008 as a concert and event venue, closed in 2009. The building was purchased and loved back into life when it reopened once again in 2017 as an event and concert hall. Visitors are welcome to view the Moorish architectural-style exterior of this historic landmark from the sidewalk.
I.C. Nickelsen’s, now operating as Klindt’s Booksellers and Stationers (1870)
315 E. 2nd St., The Dalles,
Established in 1870 by the Nickelsen family, this was the state’s second book store after J.K.Gill of Portland (now closed), and is now Oregon’s oldest bookstore in continuous operation. It is the second oldest continuously operating bookstore west of the Mississippi. In 1927, the Weigelt brothers bought it. Original wood floors and oak and plate glass display cases still used in this very active and busy retail bookstore, with a large selection of local history. Following the deaths of owners Linda (2000) and Philip Klindt (2010), ownership passed to their niece Kristin Klindt.
Isabella Gray House / Planetree Health Resource Center Harding House (circa 1895)
200 East Fourth Street
Planetree Health Resource Center is part of the local hospital, Mid Columbia Medical Center, this is a medical reference library open to the public. At the Planetree Health Resource Center, you will a large collection of of health books, health magazines, health topics files of current health articles, and a collection of audio/video materials.
J.C. Penney (1914)
Historic Downtown The Dalles was home to one of the oldest J. C. Penney stores in continuous operation. The store originally opened in 1914 near its current location on 2nd street and closed in 2017 when the parent company began a mass closure of stores throughout the country. The building is currently for sale.
Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1875)
601 Union St.
The first church service took place here on Christmas morning in 1875. The church is the official office of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon. A bay of stained glass windows is the principal feature of the church. It has a square bell tower on front with a louvered belfry.
Sharp Estate Houses (1895-1905) 400-404 E. 4th St.
Sunshine Mill Winery, in the old Sunshine Biscuit Mill/Wasco Milling Co. Warehouse
901 East Second Street
Located at the foot of Brewery Grade on E. 2nd Street, off of exit 85.
The flour mill dates from the 19th Century. Destroyed by fire in 1911 and rebuilt. The oldest warehouse (recently demolished) also dated from the 1860s; the remaining warehouse was built later in the 19th Century. The company was once located in the Branch Mint Building. Also known as the Sunshine Biscuit Co., the company was a major local employer through much of the 20th Century. The location now houses the Sunshine Mill Winery, producers of the famous Copa di Vino single serving portable wine goblet.
The Dalles U.S. Branch Mint/Freebridge Brewing (1870)
710 E. Second Street
Built of hand-hewn stone brought from nearby Mill Creek by wagon, the Dalles Branch Mint was commissioned by President Lincoln, but never put into operation. Construction, begun in 1864, was halted in June 1870 when the gold fields in Oregon began to run out, and the man assigned to oversee the mint died when his ship was lost at sea. No coins were ever produced in The Dalles. The federal mint was then located in Denver. The building was eventually turned into a flour mill, then closed for many years. The building now houses the Freebridge Brewing and Tasting Room. Freebridge opened in April 2016, the first brewery to open in 100 years in The Dalles, since prohibition took effect in 1916.
Here’s an interesting article about The Dalles Branch Mint, published online: Offbeat Oregon The Dalles Branch Mint
The Dalles Post Office (1916) Southwest corner of Union & 2nd St.
Thompson House (1889) 209 W. 3rd
Waldron Drug / Gitchell Building (1863-64)
Can be viewed from the 200/300 blocks of East First Street. This building is closed to the public and is not safe to enter.
“The Times-Mountaineer” merged from two previous papers and was the direct descendant of the oldest newspaper in Eastern Oregon, which was published for a while in this building. “The Dalles Times,” traced its lineage to the military paper published at Fort Dalles. The Dalles Chronicle was an upstart, published in competition with the Times-Mountaineer beginning in 1890 and ultimately supplanting it. The newspaper was founded amid a dispute over the city’s water service. For a history of The Dalles Chronicle click here. Archives of over a century of newspapers going back to Civil War days are housed at Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, which is located at 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, Oregon 97058. (541) 296-8600. Copies of these newspapers are archived on microfilm at The Dalles Wasco County Library.
Second Wasco County Courthouse (1883) and Clock Tower Ales
311 Union Street
The current site for Clock Tower Ales was built as the second Wasco County Courthouse by N.J. Blagen in 1883. The brick two-story structure had county offices on the first floor, a jail in the rear and a large court room on the second floor. The belfry held the “town clock.” Second Courthouse was the scene of the last public execution in Oregon, outside the state penitentiary, in 1905, a hanging. Norman Daniel Williams met his demise from the hanging platform still visible off the west side of the second story. His case was one of the first to convict based entirely on forensic evidence. The building was been the home for the Masonic Wasco Lodge No. 15 A.F. & A. M. and Allied Orders for many years. Many of the town’s founding fathers were Masons, including Orlando Humason, Victor Trevitt, and Nathan Olney. The building was later used as a funeral home, was closed, then in February 2010 opened as the Clock Tower Ales restaurant. The owner has vowed to always sell “Dead Guy Ale” in honor of the building’s history.
Wasco County Courthouse #3 (1914) the Current County Courthouse (Confused about all the county courthouses in The Dalles? We have three of them, but this building is now the only one in which county business is conducted.)
The current county courthouse is the latest of three courthouses. The Dalles has always been the county seat for Wasco County, established in 1854. Built in 1914 at a cost of $179,645. Halls are finished with marble and exterior and interior walls are terra cotta tile. This courthouse was the site of many heated legal battles during the short-lived occupation by the followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh at a ranch just outside Antelope, Oregon in South Wasco County. In an effort to gain control of the local county government, the leaders of the Rajneeshees plotted murder, election fraud and were guilty of launching the first bioterrorism attack in the United States, when they poisoned local salad bars with salmonella, sending over 700 people to area hospitals. The leaders of the Rajneeshee were found guilty and sent to federal prison. The Bhagwan was deported to Puna, India, where he later died. Netflix created a six-part documentary on this bizarre episode in Wasco County history, entitled “Wild, Wild Country.” The documentary won an emmy award in 2018.
Elks Temple (1910) National Neon Sign Museum
200 East Third St.
The BPOE of The Dalles was organized in Cascade Locks on July 11, 1895, moving to The Dalles in March, 1896. In 1910, the organization purchased their present property; at the time the property contained two residences and a meat market. Early that year, a committee of five members, including E.M. Wingate, Grant Mays, B.C Olinger, A.E. Lake, and Frank Meneger were appointed to supervise the immediate construction of the new facility. In February, 1908, the Elks announced plans to build the $40,000 lodge. The lodge planned a three story building with a basement that included a swimming tank, showers, and fuel and boiler room. A parlor, reception hall, smoking room, reading and billiard rooms, buffet and kitchen were planned for the main floor. The lodge room proper was planned for the second floor and sleeping rooms on the third floor. The building was dedicated in 1910, the same year the Carnegie Library was opened. By 1922, the Elks had 1000 members, from a large portion of the surrounding area. The massive building began falling into disrepair and the Elks vacated it and put it up for sale. The Elks Temple was purchased by David Benko, renovated and reopened in 2018 as the National Neon Sign Museum.