The William D. Adams Building is located in the heart of town at 112-114 North Molalla Avenue, Molalla, Oregon.  At this time, it holds the esteemed position of being the oldest commercial building in Molalla.  The architectural style is Vernacular.  The building has a foundation of large logs and it was framed using square nails.  Round nails did not come out until the 1890s.  At this time, it is not known who built the main part of the building.  Family records state that William D. Adams added on the lean-to.


Over the years, the building has been used by many commercial businesses, including the wagon, furniture and undertaking business that Bill started there in 1890.  He operated the business until 1909, when he sold to Harvey N. Everhart.  Mr. Everhart was married to Bill's granddaughter, Gertie Adams.  Everhart ran a furniture and casket making business there until 1926, when he built the current Everhart Funeral Home at 220 East Main Street.  The longest running business operating  from the building was George Case Plumbing from the middle 1920s to the middle 1970s.  The building has hosted many other businesses over the years that may have included a speakeasy during Prohibition and a small school on the upper floor.


The present owners are Mrs. Tommi Tolstead and her son, Guy, who have owned the building since 1975.  Until the recent road construction, Tommi had continuously operated a beauty parlor and a lady's clothing shop called "Teens and Queens Boutique".  When the road construction started, they boarded the windows to protect them.  The Tolsteads plan to reopen soon.  They have had the building inspected by professionals, who say it is strongly built and will last another one hundred years.


William D. Adams

Bill Adams was born in North Carolina on August 8, 1835.  In 1841, his family moved to Knox County, Illinois, where he met and married Lucina Loveridge.  Lucina was born November 24, 1839, in New York.  Her parents were Michael Loveridge and Hannah Lyddon Loveridge.  As a young man in Illinois, Bill took up the trade of carpentry and cabinet making.  He and Lucina sold their Knox County, Illinois, interests in 1865, and came west with their two oldest children, Mary and George.  Traveling by wagon train over the Oregon Trail, they left Illinois on April 12, 1865, and arrived in Molalla, Oregon, on August 20, 1865.


The following spring, Bill and Lucina, purchased 160 acres of the Toliver place.  He soon sold that property and purchased the approximately 650 acres of the Gordon Reese Donation Land Claim, located about one mile east of Molalla on Adams Road.  On this land, Bill and Lucina farmed for over 20 years.  There were few improvements on the land at the time.  Indeed, Indians dwelled nearby but were friendly.   At first the family lived in a log house.  As a skilled carpenter, Bill made all of their furniture.  At one point Mary had an oak library table that Bill had made around 1900.  A huge cannonball bed, made by Bill and stated to be 150 years old, is part of the Molalla Area Historical Society's collection.  It is made of maple and has rope springs.

Around 1895, Bill and Lucina's son, George, built a Queen Anne style house on the property for his parents.  This house still stands today and is a Clackamas County Landmark.  Around 1890, Bill rented his farm to his youngest son, Frank.  He again took up his chosen profession of carpentry.  In the old days, the skill of carpentry also included making caskets.  Bill went into business in the heart of Molalla town where he hung out his sign for the wagon, furniture and casket making business.


Evidently, Bill retired from his busy life in 1909, when he sold the business to Mr. Everhart.   Some of his other lifetime accomplishments included serving as a school director and road supervisor.  He had built a house in town and lived there for several years.  He then moved back to the farm and lived in the house on Adams Road.  Lucina died in 1916, at Molalla.  Bill died in 1929, also at Molalla.


Author’s Note:  The above story was written for the Molalla Pioneer newspaper and published on May 24, 2017.  Since that time, I have researched, as time was available, to find out who built the original part of the building.  I researched the deed records at Clackamas County and checked the obituaries and some stories on the involved people.  I will relate what I found in these records.  In 1880, G. W. Shaver sold one acre, in square form (CC Bk R, Pg 391; A square acre is 208 feet, 9 inches square).  This square acre is on the southeast corner of the Hugh and Jane Gordon Donation Land Claim, which is the northwest corner of West Main Street and North Molalla Avenue.  In the 1880s, Laramie Mayer divided the property into four parcels.  Each parcel’s long side ran east to west, 208-209 feet, with the short side facing east on North Molalla Avenue.  He sold the middle two parcels before he sold the outside parcels.  In 1881, parcel #2 was sold to Richard Sandford, the town doctor, for $25.00.  (CC Bk S, Pg 284)


In 1885, parcel #3 was sold to P. S. and Delilah Noyer for $200.00. (CC Bk Z, Pg 200)  The building we are researching is on parcel #3.  In 1890, P. S. and Delilah Noyer sold the parcel to B. F. Linn for $800.00. (CC Bk 39, Pg 121)  B. F. Linn was married to P. S. Noyer’s sister, Susan.  B. F. Linn most likely bought the property as an investment as he lived in Oregon City and owned a sawmill.  Since the price of the property went from $200.00 to $800.00 in just five years that indicates improvements may have been made to the property.  P. S. Noyer’s obituary states that “between the years of ’83 and ’89, he was in the mercantile business in Molalla.  He purchased the Stubbs Store where the Odd Fellows building now stands.  He afterward built a store on the site now occupied by Masterton Garage.” (Molalla Pioneer, December, 1925)  The Masterton Garage is on parcel #2 and it seems very unlikely P. S. Noyer would build there when he did not own the property.  I assume that this was an error and the location was actually on parcel #3.  The P. S. Noyer dates also fit with the dates of 1875-1886.  These are the dates that are on the Clackamas County Resource Study Form of 1984 as the most likely date that the building was built.

B. F. Linn, who bought from P. S. Noyer, held the property until September 9, 1909, and then sold to Harvey Everhart. (CC Bk 110, Pg 295) This would mean that William D. Adams must have rented the building for almost 20 years.  However, he was 55 years old when he started the business and probably did not plan on being in it for that long.  In 1889, Adams purchased parcel #1 and #4, as one deal for $700.00, from Laramie Mayer. (CC Bk 33, Pg 436)  Adams may have planned on building and then changed his mind when P. S. Noyer went out of business in 1890.  When Harvey Everhart took over the business in 1909, William D. Adams sold parcel #1 and #4 to him.  I ran across some of this information when I was researching other stories.  Since I will be working on this series through the end of 2018, I may run across information that more clearly states who built the building.  Gail J. McCormick, January 20, 2018.

Photo #1:

Photo #2:

Photo #3:

Photo #4:

Photo #1: This photo of the William D. Adams Building was recently taken by the author.  The architectural style is Vernacular, circa 1875-1880.  The building’s current owner, Mrs. Tommi Tolstead, stands near one of the new lamp posts installed during the recent road improvements.  At that time, the windows were boarded up for protection.

Photo #2: This 1916 view of North Molalla Avenue, is looking south toward the Main Street intersection.  A car is parked on the plank road in front of the William D. Adams Building, at the extreme right in the photo.  Next door was the Fermann Company store.  Photo courtesy of the Molalla Area Historical Society.

Photo #3: William D. and Lucina Adams.  They traveled the Oregon Trail in 1865, then settled and lived in the Molalla area the rest of their lives.  Photo from the author’s collection.

Photo #4: This cannonball bed, made by William D. Adams, is part of the Molalla Area Historical Society’s artifact collection. It is a large bed made of maple and has rope springs.  The family estimates it to be 150 years old.  Photo from the author’s collection.


"First School in Molalla", Charles Hardy Diary, Our Proud Past, V. I, Hardback, 1992

"Interview with Mary E. Adams Hammond", by Fred Lockley, Oregon Journal, 1938

"Local Gold Star Mother", (Mary Adams Hammond), Oregon City Enterprise, Date Unknown

Unrecorded interview with Tommi Tolstead and her son, Guy, May, 2017

"W. D. Adams", Obituary, Molalla Pioneer, April 11, 1929

"W. Adams Store", #810, Clackamas County Resource Survey, 1984

"William D. Adams", Portland & Biographical Record, page 253, Chapman Bros. 1903

"William D. Adams & Lucina Loveridge", Adams Family History, by Marlene F. Ricci, 1997

© 2018 Gail J. McCormick

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