The Incubator House & Poultry Building - Corvallis, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 44° 33.703 W 123° 16.086
10T E 478709 N 4934298
These two historic buildings have been relocated numerous times before settling here and are both listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Waymark Code: WMYAWG
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 05/22/2018
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 0

A historical marker located in front of the former The Incubator House & Poultry Building highlights the history and significance of these two former Oregon State University buildings and reads:

Wrap Text around ImageThe Incubator House and Poultry Building stood at 26th and Jefferson on the OAC (Oregon Agricultural College, now OSU) campus until 1927, where they formed the headquarters of the Department of Poultry Husbandry.

The Incubator House was the Poultry Department's first building, built in 1907 at the request of OAC’s first Professor of Poultry Husbandry, Dr. James Dryden. By 1912, plans were under way to provide the energetic Poultry Department a classroom building by moving and remodeling an existing campus building. The remodeled building was ready for the 1913-1914 school year. The college catalog described the building:

“...a demonstration room with desks and other necessary equipment; shop with necessary tools, benches, and equipment for practice work in building poultry plant equipment; storage room, office and wash room. The basement contained rooms for fattening..., an incubation room for student use, and a feed room with necessary machinery for grinding and mixing poultry feed.”

The Poultry Building started out as the Horticulture and Photography Building, built in 1893 north of Benton Hall on Monroe Avenue. The building was vacant by 1911, when it was removed to make room for new engineering buildings. It was stored on the current site of the Memorial Union for about a year, and then was moved next to the Incubator House and remodeled in 1912-1913, under the expert guidance of Architect John V. Bennes, who also designed the 1907 Incubator House.

In 1927, the Poultry Department moved into its new three-story brick building, Dryden Hall, near 30th and Washington. At that time, the old Poultry Building was moved behind Dryden Hall and was converted to a feed-mixing facility as part of the department's experimental research activities.

The property at 26th and Jefferson needed to be clear for the construction of the new Weatherford Hall in 1928, so the Incubator House was moved to the South Farm of the Department of Poultry Science, near Dunawi creek along Brook Lane Road.

In 1997, the Poultry Building was moved here from its site at 30th and Washington to make room for the expansion of Richardson Hall. In 2003, the Incubator House was rediscovered in the undergrowth along the banks of Dunawi Creek, and after being apart for 77 years, the two buildings were reunited when the Incubator House was relocated here in 2004.

The Poultry Building is the fourth oldest OSU structure still in existence.


Well-traveled buildings
Poultry Building

1893-1911 Built near Monroe and 16th for Horticulture and Photography classes
1911-1912 Stored, vacant, at present site of Memorial Union
1913-1927 Moved to current site of Weatherford Hall and remodeled for Poultry Department
1927-1997 Moved behind Dryden Hall near 30th and Washington, converted to feed mill
1997-2005 Moved to Eighth and Washington. Restored in 2005 for commercial and residential use

Incubator House
1907-1927 Built at current site of Weatherford Hall as Poultry Department’s first building 1927-2004 Moved to the University’s South Farm, near Brooklane Drive 2004-2005 Moved to Eighth and Washington, restored for residential use

Architect John V. Bennes
Architect John Virginius Bennes was responsible for the design of over 35 structures on the OSU campus from 1907 to 1939. His projects include the Women’s Building, Kidder Hall, McAlexander Fieldhouse, Strand Agriculture Hall and Weatherford Hall. He also designed six barns and a variety of agricultural buildings, including the 1907 Incubator House and the 1913 Poultry Building, a remodel of an 1883 campus building.

He was known for his skill in Classical, Craftsman and Prairie Styles. His work in Portland included outstanding residences as well as commercial projects including the Hollywood Theater and the Lowengart Building, the first in Portland to be built with reinforced concrete. Many of his projects are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bennes was born in Bohemia in 1867, educated in Indiana and is believed to have received his architectural training in Chicago. Bennes’ interest in the Prairie Style may well have been influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, who was active in Illinois when Bennes lived there.

He was 26 years old at the time of the influential 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, at which City Planner Frederick Law Olmstead introduced the City Beautiful Movement. Olmstead’s firm later came to Corvallis to design a campus master plan for the college, during the time Bennes was working here.

Bennes and his wife, Alice Smalley Bennes, moved from Chicago to Baker City in 1900 where they invested their savings in a gold mine and started his architectural practice. They moved to Portland in 1906, where they remained until moving to Los Angeles in 1943.

Bennes died on November 29, 1943, at the age of 76, survived by his wife and son.

Design Challenges
Incubator House

The Incubator House could have looked like a utilitarian garage. Instead, Bennes created a coherent Craftsman-style gem

The building is fully shingled, flared at the bottom of the walls and trimmed with molding. The matched pair of tall narrow doors feature classic Craftsman X-bracing, topped with windows in a grid of nine small panes. The nine-pane pattern is repeated in the building’s twelve windows.

Bennes’ finesse shows in his treatment of the crown molding along the lower edge of the roof. This molding, matching the profile of a K-style metal gutter, transitions to the semi-concealed metal gutters, creating a seamless band around the roof.

The distinctive curved roof brackets support the overhang with a finished soffit of boards that meet in a herringbone pattern at the corners.

These brackets terminate in the distinctive shape of a trapezoidal droplet, known as a “gutta.” This shape was used by Bennes in many of his other buildings, including Agriculture Hall, the Dairy Building, the Armory and the Poultry Building. The gutta decoration is borrowed from Roman architecture, revealing Bennes’ training in classical design.

Finally, to create a stronger horizontal sense and dispel the image of a gabled farm building or a garage, Bennes added the columns and railings on the roof. These elements are strictly decorative, and were used by Bennes on other campus projects where a plain roof detracted from the dignity of the structure.

The sheetmetal vent pipes on the sides of the building were used to modulate the temperature of the steam-heated building and its incubators.

Poultry Building
The Poultry Building is the only known example of a remodel by Bennes. He used elements of Craftsman, Classical and Prairie Styles to transform the 1893 Horticulture and Photography Building into a credible companion to the American Renaissance classically-inspired masonry buildings being built on the campus.

Bennes removed the original 1893 Victorian Italianate elements, including the small porch with the steep gable and turned posts, the bay windows with fancy stickwork, decorative iron cresting on the roofline and the small roof brackets. To emphasize the horizontal, he clipped the peak off the roof, widened the roof overhang, and created wide wooden bands at the eaves and above and below the first floor windows.

To visually tie this building to others on campus that had a substantial concrete base, Benne provided a stucco finish over the wood framing up to the first floor window sills. Following the fashion of Prairie Style, Bennes grouped the front windows, and linked the top floor windows with dramatic horizontal cornices -- an element borrowed from classical Roman architecture.

Bennes tied in this remodel with the existing Craftsman Incubator House by repeating the use of multipaned windows...but to emphasize the horizontal, he used three different pane sizes in a horizontal arrangement that wraps all around the building.

The Incubator House’s gutta decorations was repeated in the Poultry Building on the brackets at the roof and window cornices. Bennes chose paint colors to emphasize these decorative elements and the horizontal lines.

The beginnings of the Department of
Poultry Sciences

Establishing the Department of Poultry Husbandry was one of the first actions of Oregon Agricultural College President William Jasper Kerr. Hired in March 1907, Kerr moved quickly to reorganize the college into four schools headed by deans. Included under the School of Agriculture was the new Department of Poultry Husbandry, headed by Dr. James Dryden.

President Kerr
President Kerr was intent on bringing the college into regional and national prominence. He initiated an aggressive building program, keeping the college’s needs at the top of the State legislator’s minds. During his 25 years as president, more buildings were erected on this campus than any other college on the Pacific. Attendance increased from 833 to 4750 students, and by 1932, OAC accommodated more students than all other State institutions of higher education.

One of Kerr’s key goals was to bring dignity to the activities of this land-grant college, and to integrate education and research with regular citizens and private industry.

Dr. Dryden
Dr. Dryden exceeded Kerr's expectations with the new department. In 1908, Dryden was vice-president of the International Society of Poultry Instructors and Investigators. In 1909, he was selected by the world’s largest publishing company to write a 300 page treatise on poultry.

Local outreach by the department included chicken-raising contests for the boys and girls of Portland schools.

Students flocked to the department’s classes — there were 200 registered for the Department’s 1909 Reading course. To reach Oregon farmers with the latest techniques and information, the department established a popular series of week-long short courses.

In 1911, the department increased its outreach to state farmers by collaborating with the Extension service, as noted in this press release:

A Poultry Demonstration Car to travel out over Southern Pacific lines. Professor James Dryden will equip it. Southern Pacific will carry the car without expense, attaching it to regular trains and leaving it at scheduled stations.

In 1912, one of the demonstration cars reached 50 towns and gave demonstrations to nearly 23,000 people.

Research and Development
By 1911, the department was gaining attention for its research and development activities, especially in the world-wide competition to increase egg production.

“Some remarkable egg records have been secured at the Oregon Experiment Station”, according to an article in the Oregon Countryman, December, 1911.

Miss Corvallis
After creating “Miss Corvallis, the Famous Hen that has a record of 259 eggs in one year” in February, 1913, the department made news with another hen in October of 1913, “Local Bird sets new record by laying 283 eggs in 365 days, the result of poultry breeding.”

Lady McDuff makes international news
In October, 1915, the Oregon Countryman reported hen number 351, known as Lady McDuff, laid 303 eggs in one year — a new world record. Called “The Oregon Station’s Triumph” by Colliers Weekly, it was noted that when the 303rd egg was laid “telegraph wires were kept busy carrying the news to all the newspapers in the United States.”

The hen’s photo was carried in 24 Sunday newspapers and seen by an estimated 20 million people. The story was published in German, French and Scandinavian papers.

The OAC Poultry Department, headquartered in these buildings, was considered the best in the world prior to World War I. In 1991, Dr. James Dryden became the only poultry scientist ever to be elected to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Department of Microbiology
Today’s OSU Department of Microbiology traces its beginnings to the 1893 Horticulture and Photography building that was moved and remodeled for the Poultry Department in 1913.

The second story of the 1893 building featured a huge north-facing window and a large skylight for the classes of Emile F. Pernot, Professor of Freehand Drawing and Photography.

Pernot, trained as a bacteriologist, developed an interest in photo micrographs — photos taken through a microscope — to investigate bacteriological diseases in plants and animals. By 1897, the building was named Horticulture Hall and Bacteriological Lab, reflecting Pernot’s influence. By 1899, Bacteriology was listed as a separate college course taught by Pernot in this building.

Interestingly, in 1901, six years before the establishment of the Department of Poultry Husbandry, Pernot had published college bulletin No. 64, “Investigation of Disease in Poultry.” This interest eventually led him to international fame and the title “Father of Avian Tuberculosis.”

Department of Horticulture
Before the building was moved and remodeled in 1913, it was headquarters for the Department of Horticulture.

Erected in 1893, this building and the attached 2500 square feet of greenhouse were the home of the Horticulture Department led by Professor George Coote. Prior to construction of the 1893 building, Coote’s department worked out of two small greenhouses attached to a work shed.

By 1910, the Horticulture Department moved into the new Agronomy Building, the north wing of Agriculture Hall, designed by J.V. Bennes. The department later moved into the south Horticulture Wing of Ag Hall.

Bennes also designed the new greenhouses, located just north of Waldo Hall. These greenhouse

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: Historical Society

Marker Type: City

Region: Willamette Valley

County: Benton

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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