A Doerfler Family Theater Update

The staff and board of the Lincoln County Historical Society would like to share some highly anticipated news – completion of the Doerfler Family Theater is within sight. This proclamation is backed with more than unchecked optimism.

Work is progressing nicely – 300,000 lbs of cement has been poured and dried, creating two sets of stairs for 124 tiered seats and an ADA wheelchair lift platform; the heating and air exchange system is nearly finished, and completion of the electrical system, stage, control room and seating area is at hand.

The extensive interior wood work will be of reclaimed product from our local forest. The end of these old growth Douglas Fir trees came when they were blown down in the 1962 Columbus Day Storm. The downed trees were recently helicoptered out of a grove atop Cape Foulweather. They are being milled locally at the Siletz River Lumber sawmill. There is not a knot of any kind in this beautiful wood. In the coming months, the combined efforts of Skriver construction, and a dedicated team of volunteers, will install the theater interior wood work.

You can do your part to bring this project to completion by adopting a theater seat. For each $300 “adopt-a-seat” donation, a plaque acknowledging your gift will be installed on a Doerfler Family Theater seat. The wording is of your choice — you may acknowledge yourself, a loved one, or perhaps a few words of wisdom or short poem.

All finish work should be done by the end of 2018. The 124 seats have been selected and ordered. This will be the last component to be installed. Presently, the seating company is projecting the seats will be installed in the first quarter of 2019. If you are interested in scheduling an event, such as a meeting or theater film screening, we are taking reservations for events in April 2019 or later.

Steve Wyatt
Executive Director
Lincoln County Historical Society

Lost and Found: A Crown of Renown

Considered lost or dismantled for decades, this one-of-a kind crown of agates was recently placed on exhibit at the Lincoln County Historical Society’s Burrows House Museum. From the 1950s until a few months ago the fate of the crown, and who actually made it, was a mystery.  

It is now certain the agate crown was made by A.L. Thomas approximately 100 years ago. Thomas first came to Newport in 1895 where he established a gift shop specializing in his hand-crafted agate jewelry and his photography in the form of postcards and framed pictures.  

Thomas was very particular about the agates. He traveled to eastern Oregon and even out-of-state on agate hunting “vacations.” Apparently, he did not use a lot of locally found agates as the quantity of suitable stones was undependable. The generous amount of agates and metal Thomas used in this one- of-a-kind crown make it quite heavy, however, the museum has no other crowns to compare it with, nor has anyone on staff ever been crowned. 

The first known appearance of the crown was at the Salmon River Highway dedication in July 1930. Mrs. Rhoda Quick Johnson the “queen mother” of the celebration, arrived by covered wagon, sat on her throne, the first chair ever made in Oregon, and was crowned by Governor Norblad. This is documented in photographs of the occasion. The next known use of the Thomas crown was at the annual coronation of the Crab Queen, the highlight of the annual Newport Crab Festival. The first festival has held in 1938 and continued until 1952. At the height of its popularity, literally thousands flocked to Newport for a free crab lunch, a host of crowd-pleasing events, a carnival, and door prizes. At its peak, a new car, washer, and clothes drier were given away.

A.L. Thomas did not live long enough to see the Crab Festival and queen crowning at its peak. He died in 1940. The store passed to his son Richard Thomas who moved the store away from Nye Beach to Highway 101. In 1947 Richard sold the store to Ralph W. Emerson. The crown likely passed to Ralph Emerson with the sale of the store. Emerson closed the shop after just a few years and moved to Bend.

The Crab Festival came to an end when crab became too expensive to give away and the festival was too successful for its own good, overwhelming the entire town. The Crab Festival is the last documented use of Thomas’ agate crown. This rather striking crown made a lasting impression on those who saw it. From the 1960s, until going on exhibit recently, locals occasionally came to our museum thinking we should have it on exhibit or at least know its whereabouts.  

In the early 1990s, museum staff had occasion to interview Helen Payne. At the time, she was the last surviving child of A.L. Thomas. She believed the crown had been taken apart; the agates sold and/or reused for less royal jewelry.  

Unbeknownst to most folks, when Ralph Emerson died in 1990, he had the crown in his possession. It then passed to his children. Also passed down was the story that it was their father who made the crown. Those who knew of this crown thought of it as the Emerson Crown.  

Recently, the Emerson family loaned the crown to the Historical Society for exhibit purposes. Photos in the Historical Society’s collection well document this exact crown in use at the 1930 Salmon River Highway celebration – 17 years prior to Emerson’s arrival in Newport. Richard Thomas, son of A.L. Thomas, was on hand for the coronation of the queen using the crown his father made.

Autumn Social at the Burrows Museum

Open House & Autumn Social at the Burrows Museum Friday, October 19

The Burrows Museum and staff will host an Open House and annual Autumn Social Friday, October 19th. This casual event marks the 40th Anniversary of the Burrows House as a museum.

Burrows Museum
In 1895 John and Susan Burrows built their Victorian home on a popular footpath that connected Newport’s Bayfront with Nye Beach. The Burrows House was briefly their home, later a rooming house, then spent decades as a funeral parlor. It was moved to its current location, on 9th Street, in 1976 and has been a museum since 1978, longer than any other use of the structure.

5:30 PM: A brief Annual Meeting in the Carriage House. All society members are encouraged to attend and vote on a slate of board officers. A presentation on the history of the Burrows House by LCHS Director Steve Wyatt will follow.
6:15 PM: 40th Anniversary Burrows House Museum Open House. A cookie buffet, cider, coffee, and a special one-day-only book sale with over 100 titles from the gift shop. 60% discount for members; 50% for non-members.
7:00 PM: Log Cabin Tour. Get a rare behind the scenes look at the Historical Society’s vast archives and research library led by LCHS Curator Krissy Sonniksen.

This relaxed event is a fun way to spend an autumn evening and learn about local history. Enjoy Burrows Museum exhibits, chat with staff, and mingle with friends, old and new.
Admission is free – donations gratefully accepted.

The Burrows Museum is located at 545 SW 9th Street in Newport, behind the Newport Armory.

Doerfler Family Theater Fundraiser


Get ready for a treat!  The Shifty Sailors, joined by Newport’s Coastalaires, will be performing a fundraiser in Newport on Thursday September 20, 7:00 pm, at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

Money raised from the concert will help complete the performing space in the Doerfler Family Theater at the Maritime Museum. Tickets are $15 (12 & under free).

The Shifty Sailors have chosen to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s vision of exploring the Oregon Territory (including what is now Washington and Oregon) at the northwestern edge of the Louisiana Purchase. It also includes honoring not only those who discovered this area by sea, but the many who have labored here as sailors and fishers.

Singing together now for 25 years, the Shifty Sailors have followed Tall Ship Festivals throughout Europe, performing in Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Wales, England, France and, most recently, in the Czech Republic.  They have sung at a Whale Festival in Hawaii, a Tall Ship Festival in Newport, Rhode Island while touring seaports of New England, and Pacific seaports on the West Coast from Washington to California.

Come and enjoy a very entertaining musical presentation while helping to fund theater seats at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center.

Newport Performing Arts Center
777 West Olive Street, Newport

Fireworks at the Maritime Museum

Lincoln County Historical Society Presents: Fireworks at the Maritime Museum

On Wednesday July 4th beginning at 9:00 pm, the Lincoln County Historical Society invites all to an Independence Day Celebration at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center. This event, first held in 2013, has become a local favorite.

The main attraction at this family friendly event are the unmatched views of the Bayfront fireworks. Goodies will be served. In addition, the Ebb & Flow: Life on the Yaquina video will be playing continuously. Attendees will have access to all current exhibits at the museum including the newly opened Coastal Confluence exhibit in the Galley Gallery.

Admission is Free for Members, $5 for Non-Members, with Kids 12 and under free.

Parking will be at an absolute premium for this event, and attendees are encouraged to walk, bicycle, car pool, or catch a cab to the Bayfront.

For more information, call 541-265-7509.