Vancouver WA has a very long and varied history, being born from a military and English trading background is just the beginning. While our beautiful city began with fur trading and a major military fort, it was bricks, prunes, and beer that put us on the map.
The story of the Hidden Brothers is one that has focused on bricks and beautiful buildings, but extends far beyond just bricks. Lowell Hidden started the Hidden Brick Company, eventually located in the Carter Park Area, when Mother Joseph approached him about the bricks she needed to build what would become The Mother Joseph Providence Academy; which was later purchased by a Hidden son to save it from the wrecking ball. The Hidden Brick Company also provided the bricks for St. James Church, the First Masonic Temple, St Joseph’s Hospital, and the Carnegie Library. However did you know that the Hidden family was also responsible for Vancouver’s first Prune Orchard?
Lowell’s elder brother Aurthur Hidden planted the first Prune Orchard, also in the Carter Park area, starting a boom in the prune business that led to Vancouver becoming “The Prune Capitol of the World”. The Hidden Brothers, also including younger brother Oliver, also ran flour and feed mills and opened and ran Hotel Columbia.
In addition to the Hidden Brother’s small business successes, Henry Weinhard began his successful endeavors here in Vancouver as well. Henry began working for John Meunch at Meunch’s brewery; he left there to start his own brewery in Portland and failed. After his own brewery did not grow fast enough he sold it off and went back to work for Meunch and eventually bought his mentor’s brewery and renamed it Vancouver Brewery. Henry ran Vancouver Brewery for 3 years and then sold it to Star Brewery Co. Henry went on to try his luck in Portland and found success his second time there.
Vancouver was a bustling little city in the late 19th century and early 20th century, full of entrepreneurs, mystery, and gossip. One of the city’s best known mysteries of the time was the story of Joseph Fletcher. Mr. Fletcher was a well-respected attorney in Vancouver, the Senior Warden of St. Lukes Church, and the Master of the Masonic Lodge three times between the 1860’s and 1880’s. On March 14th, 1882 Mr. Fletcher went for a stroll down Main Street toward the river front, caught up with a few friends and business acquaintances before vanishing without a trace. The Masonic Lodge offered a hefty $60 reward for information; authorities searched relentlessly even dragging the Columbia River to no avail. After weeks of searching for Mr. Fletcher his remains were found on the Lewisville River, and no explanation for what happened to him was ever found.
With all this gossip and mystery the town needed a gathering place, a hub for hush if you will, and they found one at Joseph “Dode” Carter’s Cigar and Billiards shop, during the 1880’s and 1890’s . Dode was not just the proprietor of the town’s gossip hub but also the town’s telegrapher, providing national and international news to his shop patrons. Mr. Carter did not stop at just being the town’s source for news and gossip; he also owned a Jewelry store on Main St., became a respected Elk leader, and was eventually elected to the Vancouver City Council. After so much success in the city he loved so much he donated the land for Carter Park, located at W 32nd and Washington Streets. Carter Park is the center of the Carter Park Neighborhood and is home to some of the city’s largest evergreen trees.
In the late 1890’s the Scott family purchased a farm house, prune orchard, and filbert nut operation adjacent to the Hidden Brick Company and Prune Orchard. This farm was active well into the 20th century and was eventually sold to Glen Aronson of Iron Gate Storage in 2001. While converting the land to a self-storage facility, Glen took great care in breathing new life into the historic farm house, which is now the office and manager’s quarters for Iron Gate Storage-West Side. Iron Gate Storage -West Side, located at W. 1200 Fourth Plain, is exceptionally grateful to be a part of the long history and bright future of this distinguished corner of Vancouver WA.
Having been the home of the Hidden Brick Co, the first Prune Orchard, and a gift from the city’s most interesting attorney, Carter Park Neighborhood Association takes pride in their small business roots and looks to small business to help shape their future. For more information on the Carter Park neighborhood association you can visit their city page at http://www.cityofvancouver.us/nhoods.asp?nhoodid=11303 . If you live in the area and would like to join the association, or volunteer for one of their many community projects please email Jarred Isch at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Written by L. Maguire