William Grabach: A Scenic Artist by Michael D. Robinson 32° KCCH

William Grabach

William Grabach

William Grabach was born on July 20, 1857 in Fremont, Sandusky, Ohio. He was the son of Augustus Grabach and his wife Maria Elisabetha Setzler. Augustus Grabach was born in Germany in 1818. At the age of 22 he boarded the ship Graville in La Havre, France and sailed to New York City, arriving on May 31, 1840. He married Elizabeth Setzler by 1842 and settled in Ohio, where all of their children were born. Maria Elisabetha Setzler was born on November 16, 1821 in München, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany and came to the United States in 1834. She had 10 children, 8 of whom were still living in 1900. Augustus had a small farm in Fremont, Sandusky, Ohio, valued at $200 in 1850, but increased his holdings to $1,000 in Real Estate by 1860 when they were recorded in as living in Adams, Seneca, Ohio. He got a fever in March of 1860 and died a week later on March 16th. He was said to have been a Master Mason on the census at the time of his death. His eldest son John was a Masonic Apprentice on the 1860 census. This undoubtedly refers to operative Masonry and John was likely apprenticing with his father at the time. They must have just moved to Adams, as the probate papers for August said the deceased was formally of Fremont, but he died in Adams (Adams is about 10 miles from Fremont and about 8 miles from Clyde). William was not yet 3 years old when his father died. Soon after the Civil War broke out, William’s older brother’s John and Augustus joined Company D of the 3rd Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry regiment. From 1862 to 1865 they fought in many major engagements including Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Stones River, Chickamauga and Kennesaw Mountain. Augustus was captured by Confederate forces at Lovejoy Station on August 20, 1864, he died in 1869. John moved to Portland, Oregon and was a member of the Portland GAR Post 12. In 1870 the family was found on the census as Greyback. They were mostly still in Adams, Seneca, Ohio, with John having left the household and Augustus dying on May 13, 1869. Elizabeth had increased the family holdings to $2,000 in Real Estate, with $400 in personal assets. George was now 21 and was working as a Day Laborer; Philip age 17 was a Farm Laborer and William age 14 was a Salesman, Charles age 12 was still in school.

William Grabach was not found on the 1880 Census, which leaves a 30 year gap in the Federal record (1870-1900). Piecing together what happed during that time was a challenge as William seems to have moved frequently. As best as can be determined William Grabach married Maggie Harrison in about 1882. The couple had three known children: Maggie May in 1883, William in 1885 and Paul born on January 2, 1886[1] in Clyde, Sandusky, Ohio. According to her marriage record Maggie May Grabach was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1883. There is a Decorator named William Grabach living at 295 English Ave. in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1884, but we have no proof it is the same man. The Directories for Clyde, Ohio for 1886 and 1887 show that during this time William and his younger brother Charles were working under the name “William Grabach and Brother”. They offered practical fresco work and scenery for Opera house and theatrical companies.[2] There is another Directory record that shows a William Grabach, Painter rooming at 82 Abbott in Detroit, Michigan in 1891. Here again the connection is tenuous. It is apparent that William relocated often, he was said to have been in Missouri, and he was certainly in Minnesota for a while. By 1896 William had gone to Omaha, Nebraska, where he was a Scenic Artist at the Creighton Theatre. He was living at 1817 Davenport in Omaha. “The current site of the Omaha Orpheum Theatre was previously home to the Creighton Theater. John A. McShane organized a stock company to build the original theater in 1895. The architects for the original theater were Fisher & Lawrie and the general contractors were Rocheford & Gould. Paxton and Vierling installed the iron curtain that weighed 11 tons. The theater was named after John A. Creighton, a local philanthropist, and a large portrait of Count Creighton decorated the proscenium arch. The Creighton Theater was eventually added to the Orpheum Circuit, which by 1900 had expanded to nine western cities: Omaha, Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. The reference to Creighton was eventually dropped from the theater’s name.” [3] The 1897 Julius Cahn’s Official Theatre Guide shows William Grabach was doing the Scenic work for both the Creighton and Boyd Theatres. In 1898 the Artist William Grabach was residing at 203 24th St. in Omaha The 1900 Census shows that Maggie Harrison was no longer in the picture, and it is assumed she died. A record in Butler, Ohio shows that a William Grabach married Carrie Zeller on February 10, 1887. It is not clear if this was the wife of William Grabach shown on the 1900 census, but what can be decrypted is questionably consistent with the possibility.  

Boyd Theatre 1


Boyd Theatre, Omaha, Nebraska CA. 1900

Boyd Theatre 2

On June 23, 1899 Maggie May the daughter of William Grabach and his wife Maggie (Harrison) was married in Glenwood, Mills, Iowa, which is about 15 miles from Omaha. It is from this record that we learned the name of the mother of William Grabach’s children. Maggie Grabach, was born in Springfield, Illinois, according to her marriage. She married John L. Glazier, a Newspaperman living in Omaha.

The 1900 Census shows that the wife of William Grabach, whose name is difficult to decipher, had no children and the couple had been married for about 12 years. Also in the household was a son Paul Grabach, born February 1884. This record shows that the birthplace of Paul and his father William was New York. This was most certainly not the case. William’s birthdate is also wrong and is shown at Jan. 1855 and Paul’s birthdate was January 1886 not Feb. 1884. We might suspect that we are on the wrong track; however, later records rejected that theory, and the Census records are notorious for having erroneous information.

1900 Omaha

1900 U.S. Census Omaha, Nebraska


William Grabach was in Omaha through 1901, and then it appears he went to Chicago. On July 20, 1903 William Grabach married to Romelia M. Burton Hayes. William was living in Chicago, Illinois and Romelia lived across Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The wedding took place in nearby St. Josephs, Michigan. William is noted to be the son of August Grabach and a Scenic Artist, and his bride was born in Minnesota. Each were said to have been married once before, but in the case of William it appears it should be twice previous. It is believed that Grabach worked for Sosman & Landis while in Chicago.

PCS co 1906

 In 1905 William Grabach took his family and moved to Portland Oregon where he painted scenery for the Belasco Theatre. He opened the Pacific Coast Scenic Co. as can be seen on the back of one of the drops at the Scottish Rite in Portland and in various Directories during that time. He soon after started working for the Portland Scottish Rite, and was producing drops by 1906, if not sooner. In 1906 he was rooming at 488 Washington in Portland. His studio was at 43 14th N. in Portland, as shown in 1906-1908 records. However his residence in 1907 changed to 432 Manzanita.


His studio was at 383 ½ 5th St. in 1909. In 1910 his business and home residence was at 634 Front St. in Portland as shown in the Directories and the 1910 Census. The information for William Grabach in the 1910 Census was more accurate than in 1900, but there were still a few anomalies. His wife is listed as Emma, apparently a nickname for Romelia. William again claimed that this was his 2nd marriage, but it says that they were married for 15 years instead of 7 as would be expected. Emma is shown to have had 3 children, none of whom are living, unlike the wife of William in 1900 who had no children at all, and neither of those relationships accounting for the three children of William Grabach and their mother Maggie (Harrison). Most of the rest of William’s family were also living with him in Portland in 1910. The eldest daughter Maggie May was going by the name Marie Glazier and was a Vaudville Actress. His son William Grabach, Jr. was a Farmer living with his father and his wife Edna. William, Jr. married Edna Myrtle Hopkins on January 8, 1906 in Pueblo. Colorado. Paul Grabach again shows up but this time his birthplace was listed as Ohio. Paul worked as a stage hand and Carpenter and in 1909 he was a Flyman at the Star Theatre in Portland.

Directory 1910

1910 Portland Directory

Grabach family

The children of August Grabach 1st row left to right -Katie, George, Lizzie, Philip 2nd row Charles and William ca. 1910

M Elizabeth Setzler Grabach

Their mother Maria Elizabeth Setzler Grabach 1821-1909


The Pacific Coast Scenic Company worked up and down the Pacific Coast, as the name implies. A year before William’s death the following notice was found in the Oakland Tribune in California on September 12, 1912. The Orpheum Theatre was showing “The Call for the Wild” in Oakland and announced that the “new scenery for the production was painted by William Grabach in his Portland Studio”. Going back to 1906 William’s wife Emma was the Vice President of the Company. After his death she continued on as the President. On Wednesday July 26, 1933 The Evening Herald from Klamath Falls, Oregon noted that “Scenic Pictures of Klamath Filmed by R. R. Howard, photographer for the Pacific Coast Scenic company at Medford, has been in Klamath Falls filming prominent features of the Klamath country. The pictures have been taken exclusively for Louie Polln, who will act is agent for the company in this region. Activities of the Pacific Coast Scenic company extend through the northwest.”[1] And so the Company thrived long after Williams death. The 1920 Census shows his widow Emma was a Seamstress for the Company.

1913 death Wm Grabach

William Grabach died at his home at 634 Front St. in Portland on October 2, 1913, the following notices were placed in the papers in Portland and in Cylde, Ohio.
William Grabach Succumbs to Paralysis, Aged 56 Years.
A victim of paralysis, William Grabach, a noted scenic painter, died at his home in this city Thursday.
Mr. Grabach was 56 years old. He came to Portland in 1905 to paint scenery for Belasco & Mayer when they opened the Belasco Theater, afterward known as the Portland and the Hellig. When they abandoned his field, Mr. Grabach remained and opened the Pacific Coast Scenic Studio, which occupies a large plant in South Portland.
Sr. Grabach is survived by his widow, a son and a daughter, who is on the stage. Funeral services will be held at 12:30 P.M. Sunday at the Scottish Rite Cathedral by the Masonic Blue Lodge.
[The Oregonian, 4 Oct 1913, p9]

death Grabach

The Clyde Enterprise October 6, 1913 Sandusky, Ohio

1913 Grabach stone

William Grabach was buried in River View Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, in plot Sec 105, Lot 114, Grave 1. findagrave.com


Masonic History

William Grabach was Raised a Master Mason in Minnesota Lodge #224 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[1] He remained a member of that Lodge for the rest of his life. He never joined a Blue Lodge in Oregon, but he did join the Scottish Rite. He was recommended by Philip Schuyler Malcolm and was proposed and elected June 10, 1907. He received the 4° – 14° on June 10, and the 15° -32° on June 11, 1907 with the 9th Cathedral Class (16th Semi-Annual Reunion).[2] He Joined Al Kader Shrine on January 18, 1908


[1] Social Security application Dec. 1942 (Pearl/Paul) parents William Grabach and Magie Harrison.

[2] Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographical Dictionary page 346 By Jeffrey Weidman, Oberlin College. Library also(Ohio Dir 1887, Clyde Dir. 1886).

[3] Wikipedia Orpheum Omaha. “Orpheum Theater”. The Omaha World-Herald Newspaper. Omaha, Douglas County, NE, USA. March 28, 1974.

[4] Publication: The Evening Herald Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon Issue Date: Wednesday, July 26, 1933 Page 2

[5] Portland, Oregon Scottish Rite Membership/Degree Records Vol. II 1906-1919, page 10a line 12.

[6] Ibid, page 10b line 12


Michael RobinsonAbout the author:

Michael D. Robinson 32° KCCH, earned his degree in History at Colorado State University. He was the second Master Mason Raised in Esoterika Lodge #227, and the first member Raised in that Lodge to serve as Worshipful Master. He was presented with the Hiram Award by Esoterika Lodge in 2012, and was elected Master in 2013 and 2014. He served as District Deputy for District #13 in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and was appointed Grand Historian for 2018-19. He is also serving as Historian for Research Lodge #198 and Eugene Lodge #11. Brother Robinson received the Scottish Rite degrees in 2010 and was the recipient of the “Novus Astorum” from the Portland Valley Scottish Rite that year. He was appointed Historian of the Scottish Rite Orient of Oregon in December of 2014. In March of 2015 he was made Secretary of the Eugene Valley, and Director of the Work for that Valley in January of 2017.

Edgar Morey Lazarus by Michael Robinson 32° KCCH


Edgar Morey Lazarus (June 6, 1868 – October 2, 1939)

Edgar Morey Lazarus was born on June 6, 1868 in Baltimore City, Baltimore, Maryland. The story of Edgar Lazarus begins in Charleston, South Carolina, where his family was part of a thriving Jewish community that had existed since the early 1700s.  In fact, Lazarus claimed that his family came to the Americas from Spain in the 16th century with De Soto’s explorations. He was a descendant of Michael Lazarus (1730–1825) and Sarah Long (1738–1808). Their son Marks Lazarus was born February 22, 1757 in Charleston, South Carolina. Marks Lazarus belonged to the organization known as the Cannories. He served in 1775-1780 in Col. John Hayden’s Command as a private under Capt. Donnell in the South Carolina Troops in 1776. In 1779, he was under Capt. Lushington and in 1780 he was Sgt. Major under Col. John Hayden. He was engaged in the siege of Fort Moultrie and in the battles around Charleston and Savannah. In May 1780, he was made prisoner and probably detained until the end of the war. He was placed on the pension roll at the age of seventy-seven for service as private and sergeant in the South Carolina militia.[1] Marks died on November 1, 1835 in Charleston and was buried in the Coming Street Cemetery.

[1] Findagrave Marks Lazarus


Marks had a son named Joshua Lazarus who was born in Charleston on March 8, 1796. He married Phebe Yates on October 28, 1835, as was noted in the Charleston Observer. “His practical mind was ever active for good and for usefulness; whether acting as head of the Hasell Street Reformed Congregation of Israelites, for a sacred purpose, or President of the Hebrew Orphan Society, discharging the obligations of charity – in each he carried with him the confidence of his coreligionists. As a citizen, he was active and willing.”[1]  Joshua Lazarus was president of Charleston’s Gas Light Company from 1840 to 1856 and was instrumental in bringing gas lighting to the city. His success was followed throughout the Southern cities. Joshua Lazarus died in Charleston on June 1, 1861. His obituary remarked that “Had his life been spared, his ever active mind would quietly have worked out other improvements, which constantly employed his thoughts. He was buried in the Coming Street Cemetery.

The only son of Joshua and Phebe Lazarus was Edgar Marx Lazarus who was born in Charleston on April 1, 1838. His middle name came from his grandfather who fought in the Revolution. His father died in 1861 while Edgar was studying in Europe at the University of Heidelberg. He soon returned to Charleston and joined the Confederate Army. He married Rachel “Minnie” Mordecai, daughter of Moses Cohen and Isabel Rebecca “Lyons” Mordecai, on 19 Oct 1864 in Charleston, South Carolina. They were the parents of eight children. Minnie Mordecai, was the daughter of wealthy merchant Moses Mordecai, whose ships sailed throughout the Caribbean.  Following the war’s end in 1865, the Reconstruction government made life uncomfortable for wealthy former Confederates.  The Lazarus and Mordecai families sold what they could and in 1867 moved to Baltimore.  They soon reestablished their fortunes and became an integral part of Baltimore society.[2] Edgar M. Lazarus Sr. achieved success in Baltimore as a Commission Merchant but at the age of 46 he died in Baltimore, Maryland on December 26, 1884. He was buried at the Oheb Shalom Cemetery in Baltimore.

Edgar Jr. was born in 1868 as previously mentioned. Although many of the histories of Edgar state that his middle name was Marx or Marks like his father’s that is in question. It may be that he being a Jr. with the middle initial M. it was assumed it was the same as his father’s. However, the record of the Scottish Rite in Portland has the name Edgar M. Lazarus with the name Edgar Morey written below. Without other documentary evidence to the contrary this is assumed to be correct as this information would have been directly from him in 1892.[3]

[1] Obituary Charleston Courier (Findagrave)

[2] Biography by Edward H. Teague, head of the University of Oregon’s Architecture & Allied Arts Library http://pages.uoregon.edu/ehteague/lazarus/

[3] Scottish Rite History book,  companion to the Scottish Rite photo album in the archives of the Portland Valley.


Scottish Rite History, companion to the Scottish Rite Photo Album 1890-1905

After attending public schools in Baltimore, Edgar attended the architecture program of the Maryland Institute of Art and Design where he graduated in 1888. He soon got a job in Washington as an architect with the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, designing utilitarian buildings for the military.

In 1891, Lazarus resigned from his civil service job and moved to Portland, Oregon where he began an extensive practice which produced many fine public, commercial and domestic buildings throughout the state. He provided designs in a variety of stylistic categories.

Masonic History

Edgar M. Lazarus was Raised a Master Mason in Concordia Lodge #14 in Baltimore, Maryland in February of 1890. He arrived in Oregon on June 10, 1891 and settled in Hillsboro.[1]  And before the year was up he affiliated with Portland Lodge #55 and was listed as a member in the 1892 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Oregon.  He was proposed for membership in the Portland Valley Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection on January 5, 1892 by John Ulric Smith a member of Holbrook Lodge #30 in Forest Grove, who was a member of the Lodge of Perfection since September 1, 1891. Edgar was elected to receive the degrees on February 2, 1892. He received the 4°-6° on February 10, 7°-13° February 14 and the 14° on March 1, 1892. He was proposed for the Ainsworth Chapter of Rose Croix on July 19 and elected on August 16, 1892. He received the 15°-18° on October 18, 1892. He was proposed for the Multnomah Council of Kadosh on October 25 and was elected November 22, 1892. The 19°-29° were communicated to him on May 21 and the 30° degree was conferred on May 23, 1893. He was proposed for the Oregon Consistory on May 30 and elected August 29, 1893, but did not obtain the final two degrees for another nine years. He received the 31°-32° with the 6th Semi-annual Reunion Class on June 10, 1902. He joined the Al Kader Shrine on January 20, 1906 (#958). He does not appear to have joined any of the other bodies of Masonry.

His Scottish Rite sword was made by M.C. Lilley and Co. in Columbus, Ohio in about 1890 and is engraved with his name. The sword is still actively in use at the Scottish Rite and is in the care of Nathan Neff 32° K.C.C.H., Past Commander of the K.S.A.[2]

At the age of 53, he returned to Baltimore and married Fanny J. Hendricks in New York City on 17 Nov 1921. He had probably known Fanny for some time. She was born in Long Branch, NJ, where his brother, Joshua, lived. Her family, like his, were pre-Colonial Jews who kept in touch with each other over the decades. Fanny’s ancestors pioneered the use of copper especially in shipbuilding.

Lazarus was an avid horseman, artist, real estate entrepreneur, and ardent advocate for the architectural profession.[3]

The Lazarus couple’s subsequent life was one of leisure, frequently reported in the Society pages. They spent winters in California, traveled to Europe, Japan, Florida, and New York. They spent most of 1928 living in Paris. Edgar became more involved in art and his prints were accepted in juried exhibitions.

On October 2, 1939 in Portland, Edgar died after a brief illness. He is buried in Oheb Shalom Cemetery, Baltimore City, Maryland. In 1931, Lazarus’ wife Fanny inherited a large fortune from a New York uncle.


The story of his life and architecture comes from the biography of Edgar M. Lazarus by Edward H. Teague, head of the University of Oregon’s Architecture & Allied Arts Library. http://pages.uoregon.edu/ehteague/lazarus/

Ellicott & Lazarus

In 1891, Lazarus resigned from his civil service job and moved Portland, apparently to work in real estate.  He soon teamed up with fellow architect William Ellicott to create the firm, Ellicott & Lazarus.  If Lazarus did not personally know Ellicott beforehand, he certainly knew who he was.   Born in Philadelphia, Ellicott came from a distinguished Maryland family whose ancestors founded Ellicott City.  Ellicott’s grandfather and uncles were Baltimore commission merchants just like Lazarus’s father. Ellicott’s education was impressive; he studied at Haverford, the University of Pennsylvania, and at a prestigious atelier in Paris.  What Ellicott & Lazarus designed is largely a mystery. Some of their known works include the first building for the Oregon Institute of the Blind (1893-94); the first Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club building (10th & Yamhill) (1893), and the Maryland University Hospital of Baltimore (1896).

Curiously, Lazarus alone is credit with houses designed while this firm existed.  An early example is the James Cook home of c. 1891, which demonstrates the Queen Anne Shingle Style typically associated with Lazarus.  Features include steeply pitched roofs, turrets, multiple gables, a great variety of window styles, very little ornamentation, all sheathed in shingles.  The Noble house is a lot of fun with its windows gone wild.  The house built for Edward McKee, historically called the George F. Heusner house, is a local favorite.  Divided into four condominiums since the 1980s, the design of this house has fascinating eccentricities, such as an avoidance of right angles.  The two chimneys surging through a dormer is certainly distinctive.

Lazarus was certainly a man about town who enjoyed being member of various clubs and who’s life can be tracked in Portland’s Society news.   His design for an 1895 bowling alley for the Oregon Road Club is an example of the work he could obtain through his various memberships.

Lazarus was also active in Portland’s sports community.  He was a founder of the Portland Hunt Club an organization that staged horse rides and races in a variety of venues throughout the city.  He was a natural pick to design the second, greatly expanded building and grounds for the Multnomah Athletic Club which opened in 1901. The short-lived building burned in 1910.

Following the departure of Ellicott, Lazarus returned to civil service as a Superintendent of Construction of Public Works for the federal government. This assignment made him the onsite manager of small-scale federal construction projects, such as post offices, courthouses, and quarantine stations.  This position helped him secure a larger project, service as supervising architect for the new US Custom House.  The building was designed by the office of the Supervising Architect of the US headed by James Knox Taylor and the legion of draftsmen that office employed. The custom house is a fine example of Italian Renaissance design with exuberant decoration.

From 1898-1901 Lazarus was also designed the early buildings for three state schools: Eastern Oregon State Normal School (Weston), Oregon Agricultural College and the University of Oregon.

[1] Scottish Rite History book, companion to the Scottish Rite photo album in the archives of the Portland Valley.

[2] June 21, 2018

[3] “Discovering Edgar Lazarus: A Closer Look at a Legendary Portland Architectural Heritage Center Spring 2011 Wikipedia


Heppner Courthouse, Morrow County

In 1901 Morrow County wanted an architect for a new courthouse, and Lazarus won the competition.
For Lazarus the courthouse project helped him secure future large institutional commissions.  The building opened in 1903.  The eclectic design demonstrates the skill of local craftsmen and materials.  The craftsmanship is reminiscent of Vista House.

In 1903 and 1904, Lazarus was engaged in the design and construction of another courthouse, the extension of the 1875 post office and courthouse known today as Pioneer Courthouse.  The unpopular design by the Supervising Architect was replaced with the two wing version designed by Lazarus.

Lazarus, Private Practice, 1904-1909

Lazarus was also supportive of the Jewish community.  He designed the first Neighborhood House, an educational and social center which provided special assistance to new immigrants to Portland.  The Ahavai Shalom Synagogue built in 1904, was a Portland landmark until 1978 when it was destroyed.


Ahavai Shalom Synagogue

A design that one can attribute to Lazarus in 1904 is the home of  Judge Charles H. Carey best known as an historian and president of the Oregon Historical Society.  In the MDR archives is a letter from Mrs. Robert Latta who identifies the Carey house and others as a Lazarus work.  As someone who knew Lazarus, and was the daughter in law of his friend John Latta, Mrs. Latta has a great deal of credibility.


Clatsop County Courthouse

In 1904 Lazarus secured a major commission, the new courthouse for Clatsop County.  Designed in 1904, the building was not completed until 1908 because of financing problems.  In 1951 its dome was removed. 

The idea for a grand exposition organized around the centennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition began percolating in 1900. Portland’s leading architects drew lots for the major structures whose designs were completed by December 1903.   The building by Lazarus, the Palace of Agriculture at 90000 square feet was the largest building at the fair and perhaps the most spectacular with its massive gold dome. On June 1, 1905, The Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair opened.  The fair ushered in a period of growth for the city; the value of building permits jumped 450% from 1905 to 1911. 


The Columbia Building designed by Lazarus in 1905, is emblematic of Portland’s growth after the fair.  The Columbia lasted until 1972 when it was demolished to make room for O’Bryant Square.

In 1905, Lazarus acquired property at 14th Ave. and Washington St. so that he could build a residential hotel the first of its kind in that section of Portland.  My research reveals that Franklin Hotel, the historic name identified for this building in the 1985 National Register nomination, is inaccurate, and is actually the name of another building a block away.  The correct names are more interesting.  In 1907, Lazarus leased the building to Mrs. A. B. Norton, so for a year it was the first Nortonia Hotel before what is now the Mark Spencer got that name.  In 1907, Dan Moore leased the building for year, and the name changed to the Danmoore.  In 1909, Lazarus took over management, and picked the name Ramapo Hotel for the building. In 1909, Lazarus managed the property and renamed the building Hotel Ramapo, probably after a prize-winning horse.  In 1955 the Ramapo became the Taft Hotel and today is a residential facility for people with special needs.   Very little of its outward appearance has changed over the years.

This fine Arts & Crafts home, the Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux J. S. Bradley residence, was also designed by Lazarus in 1906.

The most lavish home designed by Lazarus was the residence for Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux Mrs. Solomon Hirsch, widow of a respected Oregon politician who was an ambassador to Turkey.  Mrs. Hirsch was a local benefactor and leader in the women’s suffrage movement.  In 1937, the last heir of the Solomon Hirsch family left the property to the Portland Art Museum.  After contemplating converting the house into exhibit space, the museum sold the property to Standard Oil.  Lazarus agreed with decision, saying that it would be too difficult to restore the home.  In late 1938, the house, a major landmark on Burnside, was destroyed.  The site continues to be used as a service station.

Inspired by the successful showing of Oregon livestock at the Lewis & Clark fair, the Portland Country Club and Livestock Association was formed in 1906 to create a venue for promoting national livestock shows and sales with the corollary aim of improving breeds. Other entities became interested in the concept, and the grand scheme was to incorporate quarters for the Portland Hunt Club, the Automobile Club, the Kennel Club.    By January 1908 Lazarus had completed plans for the project.  The site selected was adjacent to the developing community called Rose City Park. By September 1908, the work was largely finished.   The complex included a grandstand accommodating 8000, an elliptical track, a jockey house, clubhouse, entrance building, and up to 20 other structures including a paddock, a pigeon house, barns, stables, and kennels.  The site became known as the Rose City Racetrack and featured events such as auto and bike racing, Oregon’s first airmail flight, and even colliding locomotives.  Sold to the city in 1921, this location is now the Rose City Golf Course.  The Jockey Clubhouse remains as a residence at 6134 NE Alameda.

Lazarus, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux

In February 1909, Lazarus joined Morris Whitehouse and J. Andres Fouilhoux to form the partnership, Lazarus, Whitehouse, and Fouilhoux (Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux).  Morris Whitehouse as a native Portlander who studied architecture at MIT and in Paris and worked briefly in the firm, Whitehouse and Honeyman.  Fouilhoux was an engineer.  A major project of the firm was the Receiving Ward specifically the central domed section, of the Oregon State Asylum or State Hospital in Salem.  The Receiving Ward was planned so that three sections (the center and two wings) would be built over time. Major works also include the Mann Old People’s Home funded by Mrs. P. J. Mann as a memorial to her husband, and the Wickersham Apartments where Lazarus lived with his sister 1915-1921,   A major project was the design of another building for  Oregon State Hospital.  


State Hospital in Salem

Several fine residences designed by Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux have not been clearly linked to the firm although their complete plans exist in OHS’s architectural drawing collections. The Edward A. King House has been inaccurately attributed to Whidden & Lewis or otherwise described as “architect unknown.”  The George L. Campbell Residence is another work whose architect is listed as unknown in most documentation but it is without doubt a Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux design.  Especially intriguing are these two houses designed and built at exactly the same time.  Because the sides of the houses face the street they are especially difficult to see.   Mrs. Houghton, a widow, was the sister of Robert Howard.  The Howard family home of 1893 still exists at 1632 SW 12th Ave. Lazarus withdrew from the Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux partnership in March 1910 and in May he went to Europe where he stayed for most of the year.  His companion for part of the journey was  world famous editorial cartoonist Homer Davenport with whom he shared an interest in race horses. 

About the Electric Building

In January 1910, the Electric Building opened.  Lazarus is credited as its architect while Carl Linde is identified as its superintendent of construction.  The original structure was a visual delight with terra cotta arches at its base, a  central section sheathed in a unique yellow brick, and its massive cornice embellished with lion motifs.  The 9-story structure was built above an existing power plant housed in the first three floors.  In 1941, Doyle Associates redesigned the ground floors and removed the arches.  The Electric Building initially puzzled me because its initial designs (drafted by Kable) were published in 1906 but construction didn’t begin until 1909.   The National Register nomination (1988) lacked information about the building history.  I dug into the Oregonian and found an article that cited David C. Lewis as the architect.  I followed up by consulting the Index to the Portland Daily Abstract and found, under Lewis, citations outlining the building history of the Electric Building, listed under the corporate name,  the Portland Railway Light & Power Company, established in 1906 after several mergers. A Feb. 1909 article in the PDA confirmed that David C. Lewis was commissioned to create the plans.  The Electric Building certainly fits well in Lewis’s body of work which includes several tall office buildings in downtown Portland.

Lazarus & Logan

Upon his return to Portland in January 1911, Lazarus formed a partnership with architect Frank Logan, an MIT graduate who had been a draftsman for Doyle and Lawrence, Whitehouse & Fouilhoux.  The major work of Lazarus & Logan was a South Wing for the State Hospital.  In 1914, Logan left employment with Lazarus, probably because an economic downturn made caused commissions to dwindle.

While commissions might have been few during the Lazarus and Logan partnership, both men were strongly involved in the two leading professional organizations of that time.  Lazarus was one of five individuals who found in 1911 the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, a national organization founded in 1857.  Another architectural group was the Portland Architectural Club which promoted architectural awareness and education through exhibits and competitions.  In 1913 Lazarus was president of the Oregon AIA while Logan was president of the Portland Architectural Club. 

Lazarus was also a strong supporter of the Portland Art Museum where he was an occasional instructor in the museum school. Here he is pictured with art students in 1913, along with instructor, Sidney Bell.  Lazarus and others periodically loaned items from their collections for museum exhibitions.  Portraits of his grandparents by the French painter Daubigny were among items once exhibited. These ivory miniatures are now in the Gibbs Art Gallery, Charleston.  


Vista House

An automobile enthusiast, Lazarus was early on a supporter of the Columbia Scenic Highway engineered by Sam Lancaster and supervised by John Yeon.  In the summer of 1915 he was commissioned to draw plans for Vista House a memorial to Oregon pioneers that would also serve as a comfort station and observatory.  By October, his plans had expanded to incorporate the ideas entrepreneur R. R. Dabney who proposed the erection of a fine hotel on the site.   Lazarus described the Vista House works to be of a Tudor Gothic style.  In May 1916, Lazarus was contracted by Yeon to superintend the construction of the building. Vista House was completed on April 1, 1918, with its formal dedication, with great fanfare, taking place on May 5, 1918.   In 2005, after a five-year multimillion dollar restoration, Vista House once again displayed the fine craftsmanship that impressed its first visitors. 

The usual narrative about Vista House, in addition to associating the architect with poet Emma Lazarus, states that Lazarus was inspired in its design by early  modern German architecture specifically Jugendstil. What Lazarus himself said contradicts this assertion, and the building itself displays few characteristics of any variation of Art Nouveau.   Vista House is closely akin to medieval religious structures such as octagonal chapterhouses.  Its sensitivity to materials is in the Arts & Crafts tradition.  Marion Dean Ross like inspired the Jugendstil spin with a mild suggestion in his 1959 booklet, A Century of Architecture in Oregon, 1859-1959.

Professional Conflicts

For Lazarus, Vista House was a crowning achievement, but it was an achievement marred by two major disputes about compensation that played out in the press and encouraged the demise of this architectural practice.  Both disputes involved defining an architect’s fees as a percentage of the total cost of the work.  A 1917 auditors report revealed that the South Wing of the State Hospital cost 50% more than was reported in 1912 when it was completed.  Lazarus tried unsuccessfully to get paid the difference.  His suit against Multnomah County regarding Vista House pointed out that the projected 1915 cost ended with a final tab of approximately $100,000.  In 1919 Lazarus actually won additional pay for a disputed connected with the North Wing of the hospital.  But at the widely reported mediation meeting, an embittered state employee lunged at Lazarus who was spared from assault by the intervention of Governor Olcott.

The most tragic conflict, not reported in the press, was among Lazarus and his colleagues in the Oregon Chapter of the AIA.  In 1918, the membership petitioned that Lazarus be removed from chapter membership.  The petition, led by Morris Whitehouse, was basically payback by members against whom Lazarus had filed complaints or otherwise slandered over the years.   Specifically, William Knighton, Harrison Whitney, White, Fouilhoux, and David C. Lewis had major conflicts with Lazarus. The probable tipping point was when Lazarus struck a colleague at an exhibition jury.   Lazarus’s AIA membership ended in 1919.


Perhaps it was this growing alienation that encouraged Lazarus at age 53 to get married. Lazarus had probably known Fanny Hendricks for some time.  She was born in Long Branch, NJ, where his brother lived.  Her family, like his, were pre-Colonial Jews who kept in touch with each other over the decades. Fanny’s ancestors pioneered the use of copper especially in shipbuilding and the firm, eventually known as the Hendricks Brothers, thrived for almost two centuries. On November 17, 1921, Fanny and Edgar were married in New York City.  The subsequent life of the Lazarus couple was one of leisure frequently reported in the Society pages.  They spent winters in California, traveled to Europe, Japan, Florida, and New York.  They spent most of 1928 living in Paris. Edgar became more involved in art and his prints were accepted in juried exhibitions. In 1928, Fanny’s uncle, a single man, left a large portion of his estate to his three nieces, making the Lazarus couple, by today’s standards, the equivalent of millionaires.    


11On October 2, 1939, Lazarus died after a brief illness.  His obituary listed a few of his works, but even at the time of his death, only one of those, Vista House, still existed.  In 1969, the first review of his work, albeit limited to a few houses, was written by Carl Gohs in an Oregonian article.  In that article, Gohs observes that Lazarus, surprisingly is the least known among Oregon’s prominent architects.  Today I hope to have hoped to provide a glimpse of an architectural record that is slowly being revealed. By using resources that are increasingly available full-text online, such as newspapers and government documents, I have been able to increase the number of works built or planned from Lazarus from about 12 to almost 75.

Many of these works no longer exist but have importance in the social context of Portland’s history. Some works are disguised, like the Lowengard Factory & Warehouse which is now a fashionable building in the Pearl District. Some have historical and architectural importance, waiting to be confirmed as a Lazarus work, such as the Latta House at Waverly Heights, Milwaukee. Some are minor but indicative of the majority of works that occupied Portland architects in their careers, such as this Bakery, now Eugenio’s restaurant.

The discovery that inspired me early on to investigate Lazarus is this book, a catalog of the German architectural exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis’s world’s fair.  I found it in preparation for a talk about my library’s rare book collection for art history graduate students.  In browsing through the book I noticed handwritten annotations throughout, usually indicating color schemes and fabrics.

The bookplate indicated that Mrs. Edgar Lazarus gave the book to UO in 1941.  It was from the library of Edgar M. Lazarus who undoubtedly did all the scribbling.    I’m sure there is more about Edgar Lazarus waiting to be discovered.

Ed Teagu

Michael RobinsonAbout the author:

Michael D. Robinson 32° KCCH, was the second Master Mason Raised in Esoterika Lodge #227, and the first member Raised in that Lodge to serve as Worshipful Master. He was elected Master in 2013 and 2014, and currently serves as Historian. He is also Historian for Research Lodge #198 and Eugene Lodge #11 and District Deputy of District #13. Brother Robinson was appointed Historian of the Scottish Rite Orient of Oregon in December of 2014. He was the recipient of the “Novus Astorum” from the Portland Valley Scottish Rite in 2010, and the Hiram Award from Esoterika Lodge in 2012. In March of 2015 he was made Secretary of the Eugene Valley, and Director of the Work for that Valley in January of 2017.


History of the Oregon Scottish Rite by John Milton Hodson 33°




To the best of my knowledge the first history of the Oregon Scottish Rite was found in the “Masonic History of the Northwest” History Publishing Company 1902 page 331-336. It is here repeated for your edification. Upcoming additions of the blog will give more information about MWB Hodson and the early Historians of the Oregon Scottish Rite.


Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the State of Oregon.

THERE appears to have been but two Brethren of the Scottish Rite residing in Oregon prior to 1870. These were Ill. Bro. John C. Ainsworth, 33rd degree, and Bro. H. C. Morrice, 14th degree. We are not informed as to when or where either of these Brethren attained the degrees further than in the proceedings of the Supreme Council at its session held in the city of New Orleans, in April, 1861, Bro. Ainsworth was elected an honorary Inspector -General, and Ill. Bro. A. T. C. Pierson, Active Inspector – General of Minnesota, was authorized to confer the 33rd degree upon him.

There were, however, many among the leading Masons of the State who were desirous of obtaining more light, and believed it was contained in the beautiful rituals of the Scottish Rite. They, after many consultations, concluded to attempt the organization of a Lodge of Perfection, and upon the first of February, 1870, Ill. Bro. E. H. Shaw, 33d degree, Active Inspector – General of California, came to Portland and congregated the Brethren desirous of uniting in the enterprise, and by the authority of the Supreme Council and by his right as Sovereign Grand Inspector – General, conferred by explanation the degrees from the 4th to the 32nd upon 16 Brethren who at once united in forming Oregon Lodge of Perfection, No. 1, of Portland, with officers and members as follows John McCraken, Ven. Master; A. B. Richardson, Sen. Warden; Josiah Myrick, Jr. Warden; W. W. Upton, Orator; S. G. Reed, Treasurer; Le F. A. Shaw, Secretary; Theo. Wygant, Almoner; H. C. Morrice, Master of Ceremonies; R. B. Knapp, Sen. Expert; W. W. Francis, Jr. Expert; J. A. Chapman, Capt. of Guard; J. C. Ainsworth, J. D. W. Biles, Jos. Kellogg, Jos. N. Dolph, A. Zeiber and E. M. Burton.

A code of by-laws was provided and the fees for the degrees from the 4th to the 14th inclusive were fixed at $110, and the Lodge went to work with enthusiasm and success. Bro. John C. Ainsworth, 33d degree, was created an Active Inspector – General and at once went to work with his usual enthusiasm; and at the session of the Supreme Council, held at Louisville, Ky., in May, 1872, made a complete report of his work and. the standing of the bodies he had organized in the State, together with Oregon Lodge of Perfection, No. 1, organized in 1870, which gives the only complete account of the various bodies organized in Oregon ever made to the Supreme Council. This list of bodies, with their presiding officers, at that date were: Oregon Lodge of Perfection, No. 1 Portland, John McCraken, Ven. Master; Albert Pike Lodge of Perfection, No. 2, of Salem, S. F. Chadwick, Ven. Master; Ainsworth Lodge of Perfection, No. 3, of Corvallis, J. R. Bayley, Ven. Master; Albert G. Mackey Council, Princes of Jerusalem, No. 1, Portland, John McCraken, Ill. Tarshatha; B. B. French Council, No. 2, Salem, S. F. Chadwick, Ill. Tarshatha; Ainsworth Chapter, Rose Croix, No. 1, Portland, John McCraken, Wise Master; Giles M. Hillyer Chapter, Rose Croix, No. 2, Salem, S. F. Chadwick, Wise Master; and Multnomah Council, Knights Kadosh, No. 1, Portland, Ill. .John McCraken, Em. Commander. These bodies as charter fees, fees for degrees, and incidentals, paid to the Supreme Council for the years 1870 and 1872 the handsome sum of $3,905.51.

Of the above bodies those of Corvallis and Salem, after several years of earnest endeavor, found their fields of labor too narrow for satisfactory success and surrendered their charters and dissolved, a large number of their members joining the bodies in Portland, and the others drifted into non – affiliation, and many of them have passed the confines of earth life and are with us no more.

With the above mentioned report Ill. Bro. Ainsworth presented his resignation as Active Inspector -General to take effect as soon as his successor could be chosen, and duly qualified, which occurred at the session in 1874, when Ill. Bro. John McCraken was crowned an active member of the Supreme Council, and Bro. Ainsworth elected an emeritus member.

Soon after this above mentioned report, Albert G. Mackey Council, No. 1, Princes of Jerusalem, of Portland, controlling the 15th and 16th degrees was merged into Ainsworth Chapter, Rose Croix, No. 1, of Portland, and a few years subsequent, the Supreme Council ceased to organize councils of the Princes of Jerusalem, hence there are no bodies of these degrees, separate from the Chapters, now in the southern jurisdiction. Ill. Bro. John McCraken served as Active Inspector-General until 1878, when he tendered his resignation and was elected a member emeritus, Ill. Bro. S. F. Chadwick being elected his successor, but it does not appear that he ever accepted the election or performed any of the duties of Active Inspector – General, and in 1883 Ill. Bro. Rockey P. Earhart was crowned Active Inspector – General and served until his death in 1892; he was succeeded by Ill. Irving W. Pratt, in 1892, as Active Inspector – General, the duties of which important position he has continued to discharge up to the present writing, to the complete satisfaction of the Brethren and the great benefit of the Craft.

Ill. Bro. McCraken presided as Venerable Master from organization, until he was appointed Active Inspector – General in 1874, when he transferred the duties of the office to Ill. Bro. Pratt, who was regularly elected Ven. Master in 1876 and continued to serve until 1885, when Ill. Bro. Seth L. Pope was elected his successor, who served until 1891, when our present Ven. Master, Ill. Bro. Philip S. Malcom was chosen, whose industry and Masonic enthusiasm has made decided impressions for good upon the rite in the State. The membership of Oregon Lodge of Perfection, No. 1, of Portland, now reaches the respectable number of 441, good men and true.

Bro. Le F. A. Shaw was first Secretary at organization in 1870, and served until January 1, 1871, when Bro. W. W. Francis was chosen to succeed him, who was in turn succeeded by Bro. H. C. Morrice, March 3, 1874, who served until October 5, 1875, when Bro. Francis again resumed the keeping of the minutes of the work, until February 29, 1876. Ill. Bro. B. G. Whitehouse was elected, who faithfully kept the records until February, 1888, when Bro. E. H. Miller was chosen, serving until March 1, 1891, when Bro. Gustaf Wilson was elected who served until March 1, 1902, when, on account of increasing age and infirmity he resigned and Bro. Brydon H. Nicoll was elected Secretary, which position he satisfactorily fills.

We find that in the main the history of the Lodge of Perfection was virtually the history of the other bodies, as the charters for Oregon Lodge of Perfection, No. 1, Ainsworth Chapter, Rose Croix, No. 1, and Multnomah Council of Kadosh, No. 1, were issued by the Supreme Council upon the same date, to wit: December 13, 1871. By the authority of Ill. John C. Ainsworth, S.G.I.G., the Brethren were convened, the Chapter and council organized and officers installed upon the 16th day of January, 1872, with almost exactly the same Brethren occupying corresponding positions through all the bodies; this condition was maintained until in 1883 Bro. Philip S. Malcolm was elected Wise Master of the Chapter and through his energetic efforts an increased interest was soon manifested.

In the early part of 1891 the subject of organizing a Consistory was discussed and the matter soon took definite shape, and a petition for a charter was forwarded to the Supreme Council, which was granted under date of March 20, 1891, as Oregon Consistory, No. 1, of Portland; and the organization was completed May 13th, following. The officers elected and installed were: Philip Schuyler Malcolm, 33rd degree, Grand Cross Master of Kadosh; David S. Tuthill, 33rd degree, Prior; Louis G. Clark, 33d degree, Preceptor; Andrew Roberts, 33d degree, Chancellor; George H. Chance, 33d degree, Orator; John R. Foster, 33d degree, Treasurer and Almoner; and S. B. Riggen, Registrar. Ill. F Bro. Malcolm was at the same time elected presiding officer of each of the other bodies, and infusing his own enthusiasm into the other Brethren they went to work with renewed energy and soon the attention of the Fraternity in general was directed to the beautiful features of the rite and many sought to participate in its light. The hall in the Masonic Temple soon became insufficient to accommodate the growing numbers, and new quarters were engaged in the Marquam block at an annual rental of $1,800, and fitted up at an expense of several thousand dollars with all the paraphernalia for conferring the degrees and accommodation of the Brethren in the best style. For some years it has been the practice, in addition to the regular meetings of the rite, to hold semi-annual reunions to which the country members were especially invited. These reunions were held in January and June, the latter during Grand Lodge week, prior to its opening, and has resulted in large additions from the ranks of the most earnest thinking Masons of the State. No contention or rivalry between the rites has ever been engendered but all working together in the most complete harmony; in fact a very large percentage of the members of the Scottish Rite belong to all departments of the York Rite; and very few of the Brethren who have joined the Lodge of Perfection have, on any account, failed to become Masters of the Royal Secret.

As a result of this prosperity of the Scottish Rite, their quarters in the Marquam are too small, and now, after an occupancy of ten years, the Scottish Rite is engaged in the erection of a magnificent cathedral, on the corner of Morrison and Lownsdale Streets, in the city of Portland, that, when completed, will be sufficient to accommodate not only themselves but all the Grand Bodies of the State for many years to come. The grounds are owned by Oregon Consistory, No. 1, incorporated, which issued bonds for $55,000, which, in addition to the sums already expended and in the Treasury, will be sufficient to complete and furnish the cathedral at a total cost of $100,000 without any indebtedness except the bonds issued. The cathedral will be furnished with a magnificent Aeolian organ which was built for the Pan – American Exposition, at Buffalo, and when completed the cathedral and its furnishings will be a source of honor, pleasure and instruction to the fraternity for all the coming years.

The following Oregon brethren have served as Sovereign Grand Inspectors General and Active members of the Supreme Council, 33d degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry: John C. Ainsworth, John McCraken, Rockey Preston Earhart, and Irving W. Pratt.

The following brethren have received the 33d degree and elected Honorary Members of the Supreme Council: *Stephen F. Chadwick, *Joseph N. Dolph, John R. Foster, Ferdinand N. Shurtleff, Philip Schuyler Malcolm, Seth L. Pope, *Andrew Roberts, Benjamin G. Whitehouse, *David S. Tuthill, *George E. Withington, Louis Gaylord Clarke, Jacob Mayer, *Henry L. Hoyt, James W. Cook, George H. Chance, Douglas W. Taylor, Joseph Simon, Donald Mackay, John B. Cleland, Francis Asbury Moore, and John Milton Hodson.  * Deceased.


About the editor of this essay:


MDR Apr 2015 KSA

Michael Robinson 32°

Michael D. Robinson 32° KSA, was the second Master Mason Raised in Esoterika Lodge #227, and the first member Raised in that Lodge to serve as Worshipful Master. He was elected Master in 2013 and 2014, and currently serves as Chaplin for that Lodge. Brother Robinson was appointed Historian for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Orient of Oregon in December of 2014, and Secretary of the Eugene Valley in March of 2015. He also serves as Historian for Research Lodge #198 and Eugene Lodge #11. He is the recipient of the “Novus Astorum” from the Scottish Rite in 2010, and the Hiram Award from Esoterika Lodge in 2012.

Brother Robinson has a degree in History from Colorado State University, class of 1982,