Taking Stock of Oregon Home Builders

We’re always on the lookout for further insights into the Oregon Home Builders Company, a prolific builder of quality Portland eastside homes from 1912-1917 and a cautionary story about the sometimes thin line between reaching and over-reaching.

Over the years we’ve been writing about OHB and it’s interesting founder Oliver Jeffery; the rest of the story of his aircraft factory, which is today covered with colorful art and graffiti at the southeast corner of NE 33rd and Broadway; its talented architect George Asa Eastman.

Recently, an AH reader shared with us another small piece of the story: a stock certificate from the company, signed by its president Oliver King Jeffery. Have a look:

1915 stock certificate from Oregon Home Builders. Courtesy of Steve Rippon Collection.

It looks to us that on November 18th, 1915, Leo V. Rich was the lucky owner of 493 shares of company stock, valued at 25 cents each, or $23.25. That’s $2,578 in 2021 dollars.

Rich, age 44 and single in 1915, was a foreman at Portland Woolen Mills, living in St. Johns on North Jersey Street, where he apparently had been saving his money. Maybe he read an edition or two of Keys to Success, the Oregon Home Builders newsletter and decided to invest. We hope he diversified.

Jeffery would have been pleased. He never missed an opportunity to encourage people to buy stock:

From The Oregonian, December 8, 1912

Unfortunately, when the company went bankrupt in 1917, even though Jeffery was still in town assembling funding for his next enterprise, stockholders were left perplexed and wondering how to redeem their attractive but worthless stock certificates, like this one once held by Leo V. Rich.

One of those stockholders wrote The Oregonian a few years later with a question about where the company went:

From The Oregonian, January 21, 1921

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