Pomeroy Washington Downtown
National Historic District

Downtown Pomeroy Washington, 1908

Historic District Nomination
Section 7: General Description of District

Researched and Written by Donovan & Associates Hood River, Oregon



The Downtown Pomeroy Historic District is a rectangular area in downtown Pomeroy, Washington. Located in Township 12N, Range 42E, Section 31 in Garfield County, the District encompasses approximately 13.7 acres and covers portions of eight city blocks. Although primarily commercial in character, the District has other property types within the boundaries such as public, social, and fraternal buildings. Contained within the "Original Town Plat" of Pomeroy, the District is bounded by Tenth Street on the east, Columbia Street on the south, Sixth Street on the west, and the Main Street (U.S. Highway 12) properties on the north.

There are 62 individual tax lots in the District; one resource (Resource #60 and #61) shares two tax lots. There are forty-two (42) Historic Contributing resources in the District dating from 1887 to 1953, nine (9) Historic Non-Contributing resources, and five (5) Non-Historic, Non-Contributing resources. The Garfield County Courthouse was previously listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and therefore, not counted in the total as a contributing resource in the District nomination. There is one Contributing accessory building (#7, City Hall garage) and four (4) tax lots classified as Vacant.

Setting and Topography

Encompassing 486,400 acres, Garfield County has a population of 2,342 and is located in southeast Washington. Formed in 1881 from neighboring Columbia County, Garfield County is bounded on the east by Asotin County, south by the Oregon-Washington state line, west by Columbia County and north by Whitman County and the Snake River. The Blue Mountains and the Umatilla National Forest are in the southern panhandle. The mountain range is characterized by steep, rugged terrain, and most of the slopes are forested with evergreen trees. North of the mountains at the lower elevations, the county is characterized by rolling hills with steep slopes and narrow valleys that generally have a good cover of topsoil.

The native vegetation of the county includes bunchgrass, sagebrush, and other low growing plants. Cottonwoods, alders, and willows grow close to the streams that include Pataha, Deadman, and Meadow, and Alpowa creeks, and the Tucannon River. These streams eventually drain into the Snake River. The economy of the county is directly tied to dryland farming. The principle crops are wheat, barley, and grass seed, and livestock production consists of cattle and sheep.

The unincorporated land of the county has a population of 955 including two unincorporated communities along U.S. Highway 12; Pataha City, three miles east of Pomeroy, and Dodge, thirteen miles to the west. Extending east and west, Highway 12 bisects the county. A minor roadway leads south to the Blue Mountains and the Umatilla National Forest, and north to the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. U.S. Highway 127 cuts across the northwest corner of the county.

The City of Pomeroy, platted in 1878, is the only incorporated city in Garfield County. Situated on U.S. Highway 12 at an elevation of about 1,850 feet, Pomeroy is centrally located in Garfield County, thirty miles west of Lewiston, Idaho, and sixty miles northeast of Walla Walla, Washington. Amid productive wheat farming lands of the Pataha Valley, Pomeroy is the social, business, and living center of the Garfield County, as well as the county seat. The current population of Pomeroy is 1,517.

The Downtown Pomeroy Historic District is sited along Main Street in the center of Pomeroy on land that gently slopes down to the south. Residential and newer commercial development radiates from the downtown in all directions. Pataha Creek and grain elevators are west of the District, and the former alignment of the O.R.&N. Co. railroad tracks (removed) is near the southern boundary along Columbia Street. Hills surround the town on the east, north, and south. The Garfield County Courthouse, fire station, and city hall are all in the District; the high school and City Park are southeast of the nominated area.


The factors in determining the boundaries for the Pomeroy Downtown Historic District are based on the interrelationship of historical and visual elements. Visual factors, including building dates and types, and changes in historic character and uses were evaluated in making the boundary determination. Historic information was also considered in the delineation of the boundaries.

This District is roughly rectangular shape, and bounded by Tenth Street on the east, Columbia Street on the south, Sixth Street on the west, and the Main Street (U.S. Highway 12) properties on the north. The District is contained within the Original Town Plat of Pomeroy and includes all or portions of Blocks 2 through 9.

The east boundary is defined by Days Addition with residential and commercial buildings, and altered historic vernacular commercial structures. The south and west boundaries are defined by residential and commercial/industrial development. Topography, the hospital/retirement home, open space, and residences define the north boundary. The historic resources in the District include the majority of what was historically the business center of Pomeroy.

Plats and Zoning

There is one plat represented in the boundary of the District, the Original Town Plat of Pomeroy. The Original Town was platted in 1878 by Joseph and Martha Pomeroy, and Minnie and Benjamin Day. The blocks were laid in a grid pattern with ten 60 ft x 120 ft lots; five face north, and five south. Over the years these lots have been divided into smaller tax lots ranging in size from 17 ft to 30 ft. In most blocks, a 16 ft alley forms the east-west midline. Main Street is 60 ft wide with 10 ft sidewalks and the secondary streets are approximately 50 ft wide with 10 ft sidewalks. The District includes portions of Main, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth streets. All the properties in the District are zoned commercial.


Wide streets and uniform building facades characterize Pomeroy's streetscape. The major east-west arterial through the District is Main Street flanked by commercial properties, and a hillside to the north and commercial properties on the south. Pomeroy City Hall anchors the north end of Seventh Street, and the Seeley Theatre and Opera House and Maple Hall anchor the District's south end. The Garfield County Courthouse is sited near the north end of Eight Street and a commercial building is at the northern terminus of Ninth Street. The railroad depot, commercial buildings, and vacant lots are along the north side of Columbia Street, the secondary east-west arterial in the District. A linear railroad park (planted after tracks were removed) extends along the center of Columbia Street that has residences, churches, and the historical museum on the south side.

A downtown improvement project was completed along Main Street in the early 1980s that included corner curb cuts, street trees, and new sidewalks. The street trees are planted sporadically along Main Street that is lit by metal cobra-head streetlight. Wood power poles and telephone lines are primarily located along the secondary streets. Benches and planters are in front of some of the buildings.

Most of the buildings in the District along Main Street are flush with the sidewalks; however, a few of these deviate from the traditional setback. The buildings that do not conform to the established setbacks are generally newer commercial buildings or historic public buildings such as the Garfield County Courthouse (#13). The downtown buildings generally abut one another; although some of the buildings have been destroyed due to age or fire, and the site used for storage or parking.

The majority of the buildings in the District are one-story brick or concrete structures with only a few structures being two-and-three stories. The taller buildings generally anchor corner lots along Main Street (#4, #45, and #46). The most intact blocks in the District have a continuous wall of buildings: the north and south side of Main Street between Seventh and Eighth, and on the north side of Main Street between Eighth and Ninth. Built after the 1900 fire, these buildings are the most uniform in their design, size, materials, and height.

Construction Dates

The Period of Significance (POS) spans the period from 1887 to 1953. The beginning date of 1887 represents the construction date of the oldest building in downtown (First National Bank, #4), and the end date of 1953 includes the construction dates of the last structures (Masonic Temple #6 and Stanley's O.K. Tire Shop #20) built in the District during the post-World War II building boom and within the National Register fifty year cut-off date.

Resource Types and Architectural Styles

The buildings in the Downtown Pomeroy Historic District show a progression of architectural styles and resource types ranging from more ornate one-to-three-story brick commercial buildings to simple concrete buildings representing the automobile and post-World War II eras. The fires that periodically destroyed many of the commercial buildings in downtown Pomeroy influenced the architectural styles and building types. The building boom that occurred after the 1900 fire showed consistency in design and scale. These types of disasters and historical influences, such as the advent of the automobile, changed the appearance of Pomeroy's built environment.

Resource types that reflect the historic use include commercial and fraternal buildings, automobile service stations/garages, a train depot, community hall, fire station, theatres, utility company buildings, city hall, and the county courthouse. Four accessory structures (garages and sheds) are located in the District; most of these are associated with City Hall and the County Courthouse. Most of the buildings in the District were constructed in the Vernacular style with elements of popular styles including Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Commercial, Craftsman, Mission, Sullivanesque, Colonial Revival, Art Deco, and Moderne.

Only four buildings pre-date the July 1900 Pomeroy fire (#4, #17, #45, and #46) Two of these buildings were constructed by banking institutions on prominent corners and showed stylistic features of the Gothic Revival and Italianate styles (#4 and #45) in their window and cornice treatments. The St. George Hotel Annex (Hotel Revere Annex #46) also displays characteristics of the Italianate style in its semicircular windows with heavy hood molds.

The building boom following the 1900 Pomeroy fire marks a major developmental period in Pomeroy's history. A shift occurred from wooden false front buildings to one-story brick buildings; the City Council prohibited the use of wood within the downtown fire district. These Vernacular style structures display design elements that became the trademark of different builders. Many of these small, one-story brick buildings made of locally manufactured brick are similar in design and have a central peaked parapet with recessed sign panels, brick drip courses, decorative brickwork including dog-tooth patterns in the spandrel, raised pilasters, cast-iron pilasters, large storefront windows with transoms, and wood bulkheads. These buildings, particularly along the south side of Main between Seventh and Eighth streets (#37 to #44), have the most uniform streetscape appearance. Other design features of these post-1900 buildings include pressed metal cornices and spandrels with elaborate decorative Victorian design elements such as swags, florets, and geometric designs (examples: #12, #31 and #32). Only two buildings are made of locally quarried rock designed with elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque (#33 and #34). Other buildings; however, have foundations made of stone. The Hotel Revere (#46) is the only three-story building in the District that was erected after the 1900 fire. Twenty-six (extant) buildings in the District were erected the decade following the 1900 fire; the majority constructed of locally-made brick. All were commercial buildings except the Knettle Grand Theatre (#28).

The automobile era in the 1910s ushered in new building types. These transportation related building types included gas and service stations, car showrooms, and repair shops. Generally constructed at the east and west ends of downtown along Main Street (U.S. Highway 12), these one-story concrete buildings slowly began replacing older wooden blacksmith shops and stables. Other improvements to the area's transportation included the construction of the O.R.&N. Co. Depot in downtown Pomeroy. The depot drew more people into the downtown. To accommodate the needs of visitors and citizens, the Pomeroy Hotel (#15) was erected and the New Seeley Theatre and Opera House (#56) opened in 1913. Other building such as the new City Hall and Fire Station, and telephone exchange offices were constructed from 1910 to 1930, and reflect this period of civic improvement. Maple Hall, a laundry, and fraternal hall were also erected during this time period. Fourteen buildings were constructed from 1910 to 1930. Although simple in design, these buildings reflect the Craftsman, Colonial Revival, and historic period styles.

The Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II brought a halt to construction in downtown Pomeroy as restrictions were made on the purchase of building materials. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); however, did work in the town to help build the addition to the school and develop the golf course. Another boom period occurred after the World War II as nine new structures were built downtown. These building types included concrete or brick buildings that were used for farm implements, auto sales and repair, machine shops, an office, a fire station, and the Masonic Temple. These buildings were simple in design. McKeirnan Implement and Hardware (#57) and Krouse's Machine Shop (#21) display characteristics of the Moderne and Art Deco styles in their rounded corners, austere facades, and concrete construction. Only five buildings in the District were constructed after the Period of Significance (1887-1953).

Four architects were identified as having designed buildings in the District. The well-known Albany architect Charles Burggraf designed the Garfield County Courthouse (#13) in 1901, using distinctive features of the Queen Anne style. Prominent Seattle theatre architect E.W. Houghton designed the New Seeley Theatre and Opera House (#56) with elements of the Sullivanesque style. The interior of the theatre was modeled after the Moore Theatre in Seattle. The Masonic Temple (#6), built in 1952, was designed by Walla Walla architect Mark Houser, and the Pomeroy City Hall (#5) was designed by Harold Crawford.

Condition and Integrity

The buildings are generally in good condition with the exception of a few resources in fair to poor condition. The District maintains strong overall integrity of location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The integrity for individual properties was weighed by assessing the type, extent, and date of alterations in relationship to Pomeroy's own building stock and in context with similar communities in the region. The overall ability of the building to "read" as a example of the historic period was also a determining factor in the classification of each property. The alterations of the storefronts resulted in the greatest decrease in architectural integrity of design. These types of alterations are common to commercial buildings throughout the region and state.

Classification of Properties

The classification of properties in the Downtown Pomeroy Historic District as Contributing or Non-Contributing is based on a number of considerations including building style, type, number of alterations, building material, massing, setbacks, and the historic development of the District. The classifications follow these current Washington State standards:

Historic Contributing: Properties that were built during the historic period of significance (1887-1953) and retain sufficient integrity in location, materials, design, setting, workmanship, feeling and or association to convey a sense of history.

Historic Non-Contributing: Properties that were built during the historic period of significance (1887-1953) but do not exhibit sufficient historic integrity in location, materials, design, setting, workmanship, feeling, and/or association to convey a sense of history.

Non-Historic, Non-Contributing: Properties that were constructed outside the District's period of significance (post-date 1953).

Vacant: A parcel of land that is undeveloped. Vacant parcels are of neutral rank in the classification system used in Washington. They are counted neither as Contributing or Non-Contributing resources.

Contributing and Non-Contributing Resources

Classification # in District
Historic Contributing 42
Historic Non-Contributing 9
Non-Historic Non-Contributing 5
Total Resources in District 56
Vacant 4
Previously on National Register 1

Note: There are 62 individual tax lots in the District; one resource (Resource #60 and #61) shares two tax lots and one resource was previously listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and therefore, not counted in the total as a contributing resource in the District nomination.

Property Descriptions

The resources within the Downtown Pomeroy Historic District are described on the following pages. Note: Some of the construction dates are estimates (circa date) based on oral interviews, historic maps, assessor construction dates, and/or other resources. The "Historic Name" of the property most generally reflects the earliest known owner or business; sometimes these vary and the common name is used for the building.


Researched and Written by
Donovan & Associates
Hood River, Oregon
For the Pomeroy Commercial Historic District