Building Oregon

Ashland Municipal Powerhouse (Ashland, Oregon)

Ashland Municipal Powerhouse (Ashland, Oregon)
LC Subject
Architecture, American Architecture--United States
Reeder Gulch Power Plant (Ashland, Oregon)
Stuart, R. I. Kelsey, Frank C.
Kay Atwood
Creator Display
R. I. Stuart Kelsey, Frank C. (engineer)
National Register of Historic Places (Listed, 2000) A Bungalow style building, the oldest municipal powerhouse in Oregon was built in 1909 and represents the long struggle between the city and a private power company to control hydroelectric power service to the community. In 1889, two years after railroads joined north and south rails, Ashland became the first Jackson County town to have electric power. It also pioneered in power production by building the Ashland Municipal Powerhouse. At first, power was provided by a private company. Then in 1908, the city council engaged Portland engineer Frank C. Kelsey to survey Ashland Canyon to estimate its power capacity and work was begun, but not without controversy because the private operator brought an injunction suit against the city to halt construction. [photograph] Historic image of the Ashland Municipal Powerhouse, from 1909 Courtesy of The Terry Skibby Collection Several years of struggle between municipal and private sources ensued, with the city continuing to buy California electricity. A second phase of development in the canyon began in 1928 when Hosler Dam was constructed about 4000 feet upstream and Reeder Reservoir, a new water impoundment facility, also was built. Power generation was suspended for three years in 1968, but before scrapping the project, studies on restoring the plant indicated its feasibility; restoration was completed in 1985. Ashland is now one of two cities in Oregon that generates its own power. Standing on its original site, the powerhouse is significant as tangible evidence of the relentless effort of Ashland's city government to eliminate its major competitor and control power generation and distribution. Source: National Park Service,
Style Period
Rustic (European style)
Work Type
architecture (object genre) built works views (visual works) exterior views industrial buildings power plants
City of Ashland >> Oregon >> West >> United States Jackson County Oregon >> West >> United States United States
Street Address
1400 Granite Street
Educational Use Permitted
Oregon Historic Sites Database
stone, log, shingle, wood
Building Oregon
Primary Set
Building Oregon
University of Oregon
Frank C. Kelsey was born in 1862 in Kentucky and came West to work on railroad building jobs as a young man. 'He settled in Salt Lake City, Utah and eventually became city engineer and chairman of the board of public works. In 1904 Mr. Kelsey entered private practice in Portland, Oregon and supervised construction of water works, irrigation systems, and power and pumping plants throughout the Northwest. He was the designer and chief engineer of the Nisqually power plant at Tacoma, and chief engineer of the Kittitas reclamation district in Washington. In 1916 Mr. Kelsey moved to New York and joined the Washington Pipe and Foundry Company, manufacturers of wood stave pipe for power lines, sewers and water supply systems. In 1925 the company's name was changed to the Continental Pipe Manufacturing Company and Mr. Kelsey became its president. Frank Kelsey died in his apartment at the Hotel Peter Stuyvesant in New York City on January 5, 1933. Source: National Register nomination.