The people of Bend have much to celebrate in a town with rich history and a unique melding of things old and new. This month, Bendites will have just one more reason to raise their glasses, as the Box Factory, formally known as the Old Mill Marketplace, blows out the candles marking 100 years of success.
There are over 30 businesses that call the Box Factory home, and with food carts such as Blackened Dragon, The Brown Owl and The Curry Shack having just taken root, the 90,000-square-foot main building continues to make a name for itself even after a century in existence. This anniversary, however, wouldn't have been realized had proper restorations been ignored or postponed. Killian Pacific acquired the property in 2013 through the leadership and advice of real estate developer Jeremy McPherson. The main focus for him was for the historical preservation of the property. These goals, to him, became not only a priority, but a reality. "We lose buildings like this every day in this country. Often for these old buildings it is either too difficult to navigate the myriad building, fire and other regulatory codes, or too costly, or both," says McPherson.
The building itself no longer resembles the lumber mill that once bore the name Brooks-Scanlon. This factory's main production was, well, boxes. The name change was intentional and two-fold. "We think the name 'Old Mill Marketplace' was confusing for patrons. They would just go to the Old Mill District and find that the businesses weren't there," says McPherson. With the help of the Deschutes Historical Society, research brought forth the rich personality behind the building. "We learned the long history of the main building's purpose was a box factory for the Brooks-Scanlon Mill dating back to WWI. We found pictures of the all-woman workforce busily making crates while their husbands, fathers and sons were off in Europe and the Pacific during WWII," says McPherson, adding that, "There was just no way this place could be called anything else...."
Bend has always been keen on supporting local businesses and Killian Pacific began noticing a theme among the shops. "The tenants who have moved in here are generally home-grown Bend startups who are used to rolling up their sleeves and doing a lot of work on their own...In a way this reflects the people who lived and worked in the original mill quarter," says McPherson.
Co-owner of Strictly Organic, Rhonda Ealy, has been around to see many of the changes taking place. Since moving in 2006 to the Box Factory location she had a vision of what could be a potential popular collection of businesses. "We could see and hope that the area would become what it is today. It has a great community feeling to it and just so many great neighbors," says Ealy. One of the newest neighbors is Immersion Brewing, which brews its own collection and even allows those interested to brew their own. Co-owner Sean Lampe couldn't quite get over the beauty that the old building still possessed. "We love the building and think it will really impress quite a few people when they can see something so old becoming something new again," says Lampe. This is true for the ancient art of the building as well as the art of ancient brew.
The celebration of 100 years coincides with one of the Box Factory's most popular watering holes, Atlas Cider Company, which is observing its three-year anniversary. They will also be tapping kegs to celebrate. June 3-4 there will be a block party that is not only open to the public, but free. There will be games, a giant Ferris wheel, bouncy houses, food, drinks, and just a whole lot of family-friendly fun.
The Box Factory
Friday, June 3 to Saturday, June 4
Block Party located in the Box Factory lot,
550 SW Industrial Way, Bend