Sunnymead in Ashes
|Richard “Dick” Engeman at his printing press
On the night of November 24, 2010, Sunnymead burned to the ground. My most memorable childhood home, it was also the historic farmhouse of Dr. Bethenia Owens-Adair (1840-1926), Oregon’s first woman medical doctor. Longtime owner and resident Dick Mattson and one of his two dogs escaped; the house is gone. The Daily Astorian published a story on December 8, by Deeda Schroeder, “A Historic Chapter Rises from the Ashes.”
I have a long and strange connection with that noted Oregonian of the past, Dr. Owens-Adair, who is featured on page 290 of The Oregon Companion. As a child, I lived on what had been her house on her Clatsop County farm, Sunnymead. Some forty years after her death, I attended a ceremony at Ocean View Cemetery when a tombstone was finally placed on her grave. My mother, Jerre Engeman, on the reference desk at the Astoria public library, helped novelist Janet Stevenson research the doctor’s life. Janet wrote a historical novel based on episodes of the doctor’s struggles while she lived at Sunnymead; three decades after the writing, I shepherded The Slope into print in 2009. It was Janet Stevenson’s last publication.
|Laural and Fitzgerald the cat, Sunnymead, about 1962
Here are some photos from our years at the house. The photo of me shows me with my printing press and trays of rubber type; the Warrenton Lighthouse was issued from this Sunnymead office! The article in the Daily Astorian includes an account of the Columbus Day storm of 1962 and some photos of the fire damage. Other reminiscences of this wonderful place may yet appear!