It was an average day at the museum when Jeremy McPherson walked in and introduced himself as a project manager for Killian Pacific, the new owners of the Box Factory just down the road from us. He wanted to know everything we knew about the building.
We may have freaked him out a little with our excitement. While every year we help many private homeowners research residential properties, it isn’t every day that an out-of-town owner of a business property, lacking a personal connection to local heritage, wants the historical society’s input and enlists our help in uncovering the past of their property. In this rare case, the museum actually possessed the original blueprints for the Brooks Scanlon box factory.
Killian Pacific purchased the 3.4 acre Box Factory site and 86,000 square foot building in 2013. Built in 1916, it was half-occupied with retail tenants and a long list of delayed maintenance, building code violations, and wood rot issues. This was not a simple project. Over the span of its lifetime, the building had morphed considerably—as Brooks Scanlon’s business changed, so, too, did the Box Factory building. Shevlin Hixon, the competing mill across the river from Brooks Scanlon, had their own box factory, one of the many Shevlin Hixon mill buildings left to disrepair and eventually torn down in the 1980s.
Stemach Design and Architecture rose to the challenge of bringing The Box Factory back to life. It took a lot of sleuthing and some bad days to physically ‘see’ the history of the building: additions removed and new additions added on, original material that could be saved vs original material that could be repurposed into interior design elements. Meeting contemporary building codes and the installation of a fire suppression system proved the most daunting task.
The point of the renovation was two-fold: celebrate the history while giving new purpose to a building built for the singular use of industrial production. Historic preservation projects often include repurposing original materials into design elements, seen throughout The Box Factory with wood beams, original siding, and even concrete flooring, and provides a constant throwback to the building’s lumber origins. Each space highlights exposed wood beams, columns and rafters, and some spaces retain the original deluge fire riser (now deactivated). The original clerestory windows that grace a significant portion of the roof offer natural daylight in tenant spaces.
In seven years, The Box Factory traveled from the edge of demolition to destination hot spot. The revitalization kicked off the transformation of the area in between downtown Bend and the Old Mill District, providing a space that combines a mixture of office space, art, unique shopping, dining, and good old fashioned ‘hang out’ space. Occupants are local and uniquely Oregon by design, business folk who appreciate the chance to be a part of the history of the space. Like Downtown or the Old Mill District, its name now reflects a known destination or landmark for directions at its mention.
That’s the greatest compliment we can think of for a historic building brought back to life.
Major players in saving The Box Factory:
Jeremy McPherson, Project Manager, Killian Pacific
Stacey Stemach, Architect of Record, Stemach Design & Architecture
Matt Tynan, Project Architect, Stemach Design & Architecture
Tim Terich, Structural Engineer of Record, Froelich Engineers
Allan Tompkins, Structural Engineer, Froelich Engineers
Rob Kelleher, Owner, KellCon Construction