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DailyTidings.com
  • ASHLAND'S LIVING ROOM: THE PLAZA

    Dining with the stars

    New restaurant replaces Chateaulin
  • A new restaurant opening in July and offering Pacific Northwest cuisine will replace the venerable Chateaulin Restaurant, which served French cuisine in downtown Ashland for a half century.
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    • Ashland's living room: The Plaza
      About this series Clues to Ashland's past as a pioneer settlement, mill town, railroad town and arts city are visible in its buildings. Almost 50 of its structures are listed on the National Park S...
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      Ashland's living room: The Plaza
      About this series Clues to Ashland's past as a pioneer settlement, mill town, railroad town and arts city are visible in its buildings. Almost 50 of its structures are listed on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. See a list at www.nps.gov/nr/travel/ashland/sitelist.htm.

      To launch this historic tour of Ashland, the Daily Tidings will spotlight buildings around the downtown Plaza, a turn-around where the city began. If you would like to suggest a building to be the focus of the next segment, please email jeastman@dailytidings.com.

      A brief look back at Ashland:

      Pre-pioneer times: Shasta Indians inhabit the land

      1852: Abel Helman and others arrive, build a sawmill, then later a flour mill on land that is now an entrance to Lithia Park

      1871: The post office shortens the town's name from Ashland Mills

      1874: Ashland incorporates

      1876: The Ashland Daily Tidings prints first edition

      1879: Fire destroys Plaza's wooden businesses; brick storefronts emerge

      1908: Women's Civic Improvement Club campaigns for a park along Ashland Creek the same year Lithia water is discovered

      1935: First performances of what would become the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

      Photos for this story came from Terry Skibby's collection. Digital files of historic Ashland photos are available from Skibby for $15 each. To reach him, send an email to terryskibby321@msn.com.
  • A new restaurant opening in July and offering Pacific Northwest cuisine will replace the venerable Chateaulin Restaurant, which served French cuisine in downtown Ashland for a half century.
    The new tenants, Rob and Anny Harvey, who own Beasy's on the Creek, will remodel the space, which occupies the ground floor of a two-story building that rises from East Main Street to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's courtyard.
    Over time, actors and others have been lured to this dining spot with its people-watching window seats.
    It was here at the Rolling Pin Café in 1953 that Vladimir Nabokov wrote passages of "Lolita," a novel about a middle-aged professor who pursues a 12-year-old girl whom he compares to a butterfly. The Russian-American author rented a house on Meade Street for the summer so he could search for a rare butterfly on Mount Ashland.
    When Chateaulin opened in 1972, performers and theater patrons dined here before ascending the Chautauqua walkway leading to the two-year-old Angus Bowmer Theatre.
    Originally, a photographer claimed this site.
    Historic photos from the 1890s show a wooden structure used by photographer Frank L. Camps. A sign painted on a wall advertises "Portraits."
    In the 1890s, Ashland was already known as a resort and educational center. It had a library, city band, opera house and had joined the adult-education Chautauqua assemblies circuit.
    Thousands of people each year walked past Camps' studio to hear famous orators and entertainers speak in the imposing Chautauqua dome, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival would later get its start.
    In 1904, Camps hired an architect to design a more permanent building with a ground-floor store and offices above.
    A story in the Ashland Daily Tidings reported that a "handsome," stucco-clad brick building "shows a front elevation the peer of any building now in Ashland and one which will be fully in keeping with the sightly spot where it is located."
    In the 1950s, the geographically desirable space had become the Rolling Pin Doughnut Shop.
    Dale Monroe, who graduated from Ashland High School in 1960 and now lives in Medford, remembers delivering newspapers to the back door and being rewarded with fresh, hot donuts. The Rolling Pin was later upgraded to be a full-service café.
    After 1966, when cars bypassed Main Street — Ashland's portion of Highway 99 — by taking the new Interstate 5 freeway, and city shops and the logging industry were closing down, desperate city officials paid a consultant $36,000 to suggest ways to improve the boarded-up downtown.
    One of the recommendations was to promote the thriving Shakespeare festival, according to Joe Peterson's book "Images of America: Ashland."
    The festival, which started in 1935, was attracting theater patrons including Hollywood stars Charles Laughton, Ginger Rogers and others.
    Ashland historian and photographer Terry Skibby was told Elizabeth Taylor stopped in at the Rolling Pin Café, but he can't verify the story.
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