Monday, July 9, 2012

Francis Marion Wilkins Home

This house has always held a special place in my heart. For many years I was a regular and fervent attendee of any and all Estate sales. Over the years I was lucky enough to stumble upon a sale for the the Estate of Gladys Wilkins McCready who with her sisters wrote the first definitive history of Eugene. From this sale, though late, I was able to purchase a framed copy of Gladys McCready's marriage announcement and a fantastic framed sequence of four of her baby photos, each delicately hand tinted and framed. Several years later I worked for a Antiques dealer in town who also conducted Estate sales. One of the few out of town sales we did was just outside Cottage Grove. In the attic we found a wonderful three piece Victorian Eastlake bedroom set made of ash. When we moved the mirrored dresser in preparation for the sale we discovered "F.M. Wilkins" stenciled on the back of the mirror case. Further investigation showed that the set had probably been manufactured in Portland, then shipped to Eugene (the bed and dresser both still retain wonderful salmon colored labels depicting a steam engine with EXPRESS FROM PORTLAND printed on then). To cut to the chase, with the exception of perhaps a dozen nights away from home I have slept in this bed every night for the last 13 years.
F.M. "Frank" Wilkins was the son of very early Lane County pioneers, Mitchell and Permelia Allen Wilkins, who settled just north of Coburg. He was a Eugene pharmacist and Mayor from 1905-1907. His brother Amos was the owner of the Johnson house on the corner of 5th and Lawrence (see my February 23 post). The F.M. Wilkins house was built about 1879 in the Italianate style which was so predominantly popular in Eugene at the time. It stood out from the others in its unusual window placement, cantilevered balconies and octagonal shaped rooms. A very vertical structure, a later remodeling added a large porch which helped to soften this effect. The house which stood on the northeast corner of Broadway and Charnelton at "Four Corners" was locally famous for its elaborate landscaping. There was a massive California redwood which stool on the grounds along with other exotic plantings. F.M. Wilkins passed away in the mid 30's, well into his 90's. The house survived until 1949 when it was leveled by the proverbial wrecking ball for construction of the Bon Marche building which now houses calling centers for Harry and David and Enterprise Car Rental.


  1. Wow, what a gorgeous place. So sad it's gone, but it's great to see the photographs! Thank you.

  2. My pleasure, I am glad you enjoyed the post. The story about the demolition was that the youngest daughter, Gladys was downtown shopping one day and and happened upon her birthplace and childhood home being knocked down. She was so traumatized that she did not go near that corner for over a year.

  3. Amazing to read your message, I am the grandson
    of Gladys Wilkins brother, Frank Wilkins, who passed away in the l960's in CA. My grandson, a student at the U of O, is working for the Enterprize Car Rental Call Center that is on the property of the family home. The bedroom furniture you mentioned is a great story..It is a small world!!

  4. Hi Mel:
    What a great surprise to get your message. I think the bedroom set actually was in your Grandfathers family after the house was razed, and ended up with his second wife. It was her daughter who's estate we did back in 1999. I too have worked in the old Bon Marche building for Harry and David. It is indeed a small world!