(Photo courtesy of Deschutes Historical Society)
Steeped in history and vintage industrial charm, the Box Factory is Bend’s up and coming destination in the Mill Quarter neighborhood, and home to 32 local businesses.
The Box Factory is Bend’s new up and coming destination in the Mill Quarter neighborhood. Formerly known as the Old Mill Marketplace, the Box Factory is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in June 2016 as restoration of the historic building nears completion.
The Box Factory is a story of struggle, near-demise and in the end, historic preservation. In 2013, after years of challenges meeting compliance and safety standards, previous owners struggled to keep the 90,000 square foot main building open and demolishment was eminent. In July 2013, Killian Pacific, a leader of innovative and thoughtful project developments in the Pacific Northwest, acquired the building and began taking steps toward a new vision for the property. The goal was to restore an architecture and history that reflects the very heart of the Mill Quarter.
“Buildings like this, we lose them every day,” said Jeremy McPherson of Killian Pacific. “We lose them because saving them is costly and difficult. It’s easier to knock them down and build something new. We’re thrilled to be able to say that we’re saving Bend’s last box factory and it’s standing here, restored, at 100 years old.”
Central to the significant budget spent in restoration work since Killian Pacific acquired the property has been resolving years of deferred maintenance and ensuring that the building is code compliant and safe to inhabit. Just as important to Killian Pacific has been keeping alive the historic charm and architectural features signature to early 20th century mill buildings. The original cupola, the focal point of the building for 100 years, has been meticulously maintained and continues to stand as the iconic mark of a mill building. The color of the buildings on the property, which were all repainted last summer, was carefully chosen to closely match the other mill buildings in the quarter. All of the original woodwork, arches and columns have also been preserved and the paint has been sandblasted to bring back the natural wood used in the original factory.
“This year Bend celebrates the centennial of two lumber mills, Shevlin-Hixon and Brooks-Scanlon,” said Vanessa Ivey, museum manager, Deschutes Historical Society. “Today, although much of the Mills’ physical footprint has faded the imprint they made on the community has not and continues to thrive in the stories and memories shared, the reuse and reinvention of place and space, and the infectious enthusiasm the next generation of Bend has for its past. Jeremy McPherson has embraced all of these things during his rejuvenation of the Brooks-Scanlon Box Factory project and as a result of his enthusiasm and vision the stories and the structure will continue to be with us into the future.”
In the early 20th century, box factories were an important division of the logging industry. Scrap pieces of wood from the mills were not wasted, rather, they were repurposed for many new products including pencils, molding, and boxes. The Brooks-Scanlon box factory on what is today Industrial Way produced wooden boxes for fruit, ammunition, milk, soap, cereal and other household goods. Historical photographs taken inside the Box Factory show towers of boxes and crates with brand names such as Sunkist, Karo and Cream of Wheat. Once assembled, the boxes were placed on cargo trains just behind the factory on Arizona Avenue.
“Once we began looking into the history of this building, we knew we wanted to bring back the Box Factory. We knew we wanted to protect the story that this building tells through its most historic features,” said McPherson. “Now the building, its name and the businesses that reside here, they all respectfully reflect the historic charm and the home grown, boot-strapping work ethic that really defines Bend’s Mill Quarter.”
The Box Factory and its vintage industrial character now houses a forward-thinking collection of 32 locally owned businesses. From beer, cider and great eats, to photography, art and interior design to yoga and innovative athletic performance and training, the Box Factory businesses were born in Bend and much like the factory workers who assembled boxes here 100 years ago, they are built on the sweat of hard work and a passion to make Bend an even better place to live and visit. Atlas Cider Company’s tasting room and Immersion Brewing (a brew-it-yourself pub and brewery opening in May) are both a nod to Bend’s well-known craft beer brewers and growing cider scene. The Brown Owl, once a wildly popular food cart in The Lot, has since outgrown its mobile space and moved its permanent home to the Box Factory. The family-friendly rustic pub with a full menu, bar and sundeck is expected to open mid-April.
“Getting to be a part of the historic preservation process was incredible,” said Lisandro Ramon, chef and owner, The Brown Owl. “You walk into this space now and smell wood that’s 100 years old. You can sit at the bar and tell stories about the worn shelves and rustic beams that are still serving their original purpose. That’s just amazing.”
Visitors to the Box Factory will find an open, pedestrian-friendly design with a community vibe and features that encourage social gatherings. Three large concrete sundecks provide open-air seating outside of Atlas Cider Company, Immersion Brewing and The Brown Owl, making the Box Factory the place to be after work in downtown Bend or after play in the Bend Whitewater Park, the Pavilion in Bend, or Les Schwab Amphitheater, all of which are within walking distance.
“There is definitely community interest in seeing such buildings preserved and repurposed in Bend. So, it’s exciting to see that there is also market interest in restoring and reusing the Box Factory,” said Jon Skidmore, assistant city manager, City of Bend. “Jeremy’s team and the members of the City’s Community Development Department had to get creative to find solutions to very complex problems. Killian Pacific’s team should be commended for their efforts. Retrofitting a 100-year-old building is no small or inexpensive feat. It’s great to know this building not only serves as a reminder of Bend’s past but will be used long into the future as well.”
Businesses at the Box Factory
Atlas Cider Co.
Immersion Brewing (opening May 2016)
The Brown Owl (opening soon)
The Gear Fix
Bend Tour Company
The Longboard Store
Area Rug Connection
Stand Up Paddle Bend
Focus Physical Therapy
The Yoga Lab
Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA)
John L. Scott Real Estate
Stemach Design & Architecture
Misty Dawn Designs
Elixir Wine Group
Curb B Q
Mill Quarter Coffee
Smokin Moto in the Pine Shed
Save the Date: The Box Factory presents Atlas Cider Company’s Three-Year Anniversary Celebration and Block Party June 3-4. Join the Box Factory in celebrating its Centennial and Atlas Cider’s anniversary with a carnival-style, family-friendly block party. There will be a giant Ferris wheel, bouncy houses, food, drinks, as well as open houses of all of the Box Factory businesses. The event is free and open to the public.
About The Box Factory
The Box Factory is Bend’s new up and coming destination in the Mill Quarter neighborhood. Formerly known as the Old Mill Marketplace, the building was acquired by Killian Pacific in July 2013 and has since been restored using historic preservation standards and techniques. One of Bend’s two original box factories built during the early 20th century logging boom and part of the Brooks-Scanlon mill complex, the newly restored Box Factory is now the only box factory building remaining in Bend and celebrates its 100th year standing in June 2016.
Today the Box Factory houses a growing collection of more than 32 locally owned Bend businesses including Atlas Cider Company, Immersion Brewing, Picky Bars, The Gear Fix, Webcyclery, Atelier 6000, The Brown Owl, Jewel Images and more.