Built 1884, Demolished 1948
Pine Street between Front and First
Architect: Justus Krumbein
One of the most decorative and palatial structures in the city was the extraordinary Kamm Block, built for $125,000 by Jacob Kamm, one of the more enterprising and multitalented businessmen of his day. The Swedish-born Kamm immigrated with his family in the 1830s to St Louis and as a young marine engineer made his way to the Northwest in the 1850s. By the 1860s he was lead builder and investor of numerous ships, and principal owner of navigation and transportation companies including the Oregon Steam Navigation Company (Vancouver, WA), Willamette Steam Navigation Company, Vancouver Transportation Company, and Snake River Transportation Company. With established connections with leading businessmen George Abernathy and J. C. Ainsworth, Kamm broadened his business alliances into banking, becoming Vice President of U. S. National Bank (a successor to Ainsworth Bank) and President of First National Bank of Astoria (where he had considerable property). He also was a key stockholder in the Bank of California and had considerable investments in San Francisco.
Matching a varied and successful business career, Kamm’s building tastes also ran to the opulent. With architect Justus Krumbein he created the extraordinary Kamm Block. From the richly ornamented façade to the 125’ tall tower, every surface was detailed in bold modern gothic designs, iron columns, sheet metal decoration and herculean wooden sculptures. Other decorations included the main floor cast iron columns with Romanesque detailing, large iron keystones at the windows, and an exuberantly decorated roof cornice. All this was topped by a roof line complete with iron balustrade, finials, flags and pediments with iron griffins.
|Griffin from Kamm Block||Same architect: Bickel Block||Kamm Block, 1886|