Historic Hood River
Farewell, Cuddeford Blacksmith Building
This evening downtown Hood River lost one of its few remaining wood frame buildings. The building which originally housed Claude Cuddeford’s Blacksmith Shop (most recently the Kayak Shed) was consumed by a fire shortly after 8PM.
The building was constructed between 1905 and 1909. Given that it served as a blacksmith shop or machine shop for most of its life, it’s amazing it survived 110 years. While not a particularly showy building, it’s always been one of my favorites, both for its rich history and working class bones. It spoke of a day when downtown Hood River was filled with shops which supported the valley’s agriculture and logging industry.
Here’s a history of the building from the “Oregon Inventory of Historic Properties for Hood River County:
Claude Cuddeford was co-owner of the earliest blacksmith shop in Hood River, Cuddeford & Howell. The land for the shop was purchased from Henry C. Coe on April 18, 1882. Cuddeford originally owned the shop with Willis Snow before going into partnership with Arthur F. Howell sometime before 1908. The shop handled a majority of the blacksmithing in the Hood River Valley. Around 1920, Cuddeford sold the shop to Hector Unger who changed the shop into a machine shop. The shop was eventually sold to John and Frances Schlosser.
I’m sure most of you know the more recent history: Hurricane Sails, Cascade Outdoor Store, and finally, the Kayak Shed.
Last November I visited the Kayak Shed to take some photos for my “Haunted” lecture at the “Rooted” series for Livable Hood River. The result is above. I spoke about all the long dead people I see every time I walk around Hood River. Claude Cuddeford was one of my favorites. I’ll still see him every time I pass City Hall, where his name is engraved on a plaque as a city councilman when the building was constructed. But I suspect this is where he really felt at home, and that home is gone.