HISTORY IN THE HEADLINES: Blueprints show a lasting legacy

The blueprint for the nurse’s home at Jane Lamb Hospital is also on display at Clinton's Sawmill Museum. Submitted photo

The Sawmill Museum recently underwent an expansion. Besides allowing us to add two exciting new exhibits, the water table and a virtual rafting experience, we were able to revamp our existing exhibit space and add new artifacts to our displays.

We now have room to display a selection of blueprints we have in our collection, and while preparing to display them, we had the opportunity to delve into research about the buildings the blueprints depict. Through this process, we learned even more about how far the influence of the lumber barons spread. Blueprints for businesses seemingly unrelated to the sawmill industry ended up having sawmill connections.

One way lumber barons and their families became involved in other aspects of the Clinton community was by serving on the boards of other companies. For example, one blueprint we have on display is that of the American Wire Cloth Company. Charles Curtis served as the first president of the company, which manufactured screens for doors and windows. Lafayette Lamb served on the board of directors.

Another example is the Tri-City Telephone Company. A. Lamb served as the treasurer of the independent and locally owned business, and George Curtis and William J. Young, Jr. were among the company’s incorporators. These are just two examples of businesses for which we happen to have blueprints. Who knows how many other boards on which the lumber barons served?

Some of the blueprints are of other businesses the lumber baron families were invested in. One such business is the Clinton Herald. The paper was founded in 1856 and purchased by the W. J. Young Company in the early 1900s. It remained in the Young family until 1986.

The blueprint for the nurse’s home at Jane Lamb Hospital is also on display. In 1908, Emma Lamb Young donated money to build the nurses home at Agatha Hospital, which was later renamed Jane Lamb in honor of Emma’s mother. Today the hospital is known as Mercy Medical Center – South.

Then, of course, there are the homes built by the families of those connected with the lumber business, such as the mansion of Eugene Curtis, which was built on Hillcrest next to his brother George in 1921. George’s home was later burned down by arsonists. A caretaker’s cottage was built behind the home of the Joyces near the intersection of 19th Avenue North and Third Street. Perhaps one of the more interesting house plans is for the grounds of Mrs. F. W. Ellis. The plans include a very large playhouse, which was built for the disabled daughter of F. W. Ellis and Celeste Ware, who was a granddaughter of Chancy Lamb.

The city of Clinton is still filled with the influence of the lumber barons. The museum also has blueprints for alterations to the Van Allen building on Fifth Avenue South, which was constructed using Eclipse lumber. Eclipse lumber and Curtis woodwork were also used in what was originally a theater and store building at 503-511 S. Second St. Again, these are just two examples of countless buildings in the Clinton area built with local lumber and woodwork.

Perhaps the most obvious presence in Clinton today of the city’s lumber history is in the name of its baseball team, the LumberKings. Their stadium was originally known as Riverview Stadium, and was built as a WPA project following the Great Depression, which is noted at the bottom of the blueprints.

From buildings to businesses to homes to a baseball team, it is amazing to see how a collection of seemingly unrelated blueprints come together to tell the story of Clinton’s lumber barons and their lasting legacy.