Main Streets: Wesley Andrews Photo Postcards

Main Street, Central Point, Oregon. OHS Research Library, Wesley Andrews postcard collection, Org. Lot 87, OrHi 14537.

October 26, 2022 – April 30, 2023

  • Family-friendly
  • Free for Members
  • Researchers
  • Teachers
  • Hearing-impaired Friendly
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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Small towns across Oregon, especially during the early twentieth century, were frequently identified by their main streets. As towns grew, so did their thoroughfares. Often the nexus for communities and their broader rural areas, these streets not only measured the size of a growing town but would often come to represent the town itself.

Main streets are ubiquitous, representing both where one is coming from, and sometimes, where one is going. Through photo postcards from the Wesley Andrews postcard collection preserved in OHS’s research library, this exhibit captures both the homogeneity and uniqueness of main streets across Oregon during the 1920s.

According to the Oregon Journal, Charles Wesley Andrews was a trailblazer in the production of scenic postcards, capitalizing on the era’s boom in travel and communication. Andrews was born in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, in 1875, and moved to Baker County with his family in 1888. He would go on to establish a postcard business there before moving to Portland in 1929 where he expanded the business into the Wesley Andrews Greeting Card Company. Andrews, especially during his early years in the photo postcard business, was both the photographer and producer of these cards. Traveling often, newspapers at that time frequently noted when Andrews was in town to photograph scenic locations.

The Wesley Andrews postcard collection consists of 1,700 postcards and approximately 10,000 photographic negatives. In addition to more images of Oregon main streets not selected for display in this exhibit, the collection includes photo postcards of the Pendleton Round-Up, coastal scenes from Seaside, vistas in the Columbia River Gorge, and locations outside of the Pacific Northwest such as Yellowstone National Park and landmarks in Idaho. One thing they all have in common regardless of subject matter is that they make a good postcard — both to send and to receive.