A couple of hours west of the John Day Fossil Beds we arrived in Bend, Oregon, Central Oregon’s largest city (owing to the low population density of the region in general), the 5th largest metropolitan area in Oregon. We stayed at the Mill Inn B&B.
Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast
This very comfortable B&B sits about 10 blocks south of the historic center of town and on the edge of a rapidly developing and urbanizing district, with all that that means in terms of variety and consistency of approach. Here’s what’s across the street.
Strictly Organic Coffee Co
This is a series of neo-manufacturing style buildings, probably building on a few actual manufacturing structures previously there. As a result it’s a little difficult to tell which parts are historic and which are not.
John L. Scott Real Estate
In the John L. Scott case, I’m guessing that it’s an old, original building dressed up with new windows and facade on the exterior and new office space inside. I just doubt that someone would go to that level of form-making in a new building.
Just a block away was an historic interpretation – from London ! – Mews Housing.
mews style housing
We saw housing somewhat like this (but smaller in scale) in London. Attached townhouses surround a courtyard used for vehicles and service. The main residences are up a half level, and a small courtyard gives access to office and/or residential space a half level below the sidewalk. The rear courtyard is lined with garages.
It also looks as if there are roof decks on the top but I wasn’t sure about that.
Just a half block away, there was a different approach to city living.
For those who like modern lines, these were pretty attractive. I personally thought they needed more of the ‘carved-out’ balcony spaces to be really livable; but I liked the way the street level entrances were handled. These kinds of forms would also lend themselves to skylights and green roofs but I couldn’t see if any of those were provided.
And then, just a couple blocks away, another mews but in a different style.
mews housing 2
I’m assuming the chimney forms serve fireplaces in the corners of living rooms.
One feature I appreciate is that the front porch is large enough for a table and chairs. Another is that the two story space and windows add a lot inside and out.
After breakfast we spent some time walking in the older part of downtown before getting on the road again. Bend is located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range along the Deschutes River. Here the Ponderosa Pine forest transitions into the high desert, characterized by arid land, junipers, sagebrush, and bitter-brush. Originally a crossing point on the river, settlement began in the early 1900s. Bend was incorporated as a city in 1905. Economically, it started as a logging town but is now identified as a gateway for many outdoor sports, including mountain biking, fishing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, white-water rafting, skiing, paragliding, helicopter tours and golf. In 2015, Men’s Journal ranked Bend as one of The 10 Best Places to Live Now. The city has made real investments in a walkable and genuinely pedestrian-friendly downtown.
The sidewalks are wide and brick-paved with generous curb extensions and ADA crosswalks at all the intersections. Many apartments with retail at the street level are stepped back at upper levels (above) to provide more light to the street – and at the same time add balcony outdoor space to the apartments.
The general impact along the street then is of a two story facade that works well with the older two story buildings (background above). Styles are a bit of this and that, though there is a fair amount of brick to hold everything together.
Main Street continues this general approach but with a bit more variety;
and here we discovered a passage that was intriguing.
The city of Bend has learned to take advantage of its natural setting, to link to it, and to treat the backs of its buildings with some sensitivities. These two views below are of what was undoubtedly an ‘alley’ running behind the buildings that has now been developed into a shared car/pedestrian space. Well done !
The direct view from the passageway leads you to the river.
The name Bend was derived from “Farewell Bend”, the designation used by early pioneers to refer to the location along the Deschutes River where the town was eventually platted, one of the few fordable points along the river.
The scale of the river makes it an incredible amenity, bordered here by downtown and a large city park.
Past the ‘bend’ the area is more residential on the far side. The town side continues the park walkway behind the commercial district.
The bright daylight at the end of the passage draws you back to Main Street,
where one of the shops provided a little local humor.
This part of the street contains a few of the civic buildings, old and new.
Some are older and include retail with housing above.
Others continue to function pretty much as designed, though the Tower is more than just a movie theater these days.
Tower Movie Theater
In this day of emails and texting, post offices don’t require the space they used to.
This one has been re-purposed into office space and a home for the Chamber of Commerce, both good downtown uses. A block away the library makes a good neighbor.
It adds a more modern look; but again, the use of brick gives it continuity in its context.
So, you ask, where’s the real stuff ?
And here’s the answer – over on business 97, the route we’re taking out of town, heading north to Washington State.
And accidentally, the photographer at work.