The former Eola Acres Floral Shop today (Photo by Sara Belousek)
If you drive Highway 22 from Salem to Independence you pass two very interesting older buildings on the north side of the highway.
The Eola Acres Floral Shop was located at 4785 Salem-Dallas Highway. The parcel of property on which the building sits, next to the larger Patterson Farmhouse, was originally part of four donation land claims.
The gift shop originated as a roadside farm stand built by the Patterson family. In an anecdotal tale, Governor Isaac Patterson, a tall, white-haired man, sold peaches at the farm stand by the side of the road just past the town of Eola proper. When the Schucking family moved to the property full time, the family continued the practice, offering plants, cut flowers, fruits, and other agricultural products grown on the 144-acre farm, known as Eola Acres.
In late 1938, the Schucking family had a more permanent, winterized structure built and launched the Oak Tree Shop at Eola Acres just in time for the Christmas holiday shopping season. The shop was named for the stately oak tree that stood between the building and the highway, offering shade during warm summer months.
In 1940, Agnes Schucking received an award from the National Council for Outstanding Achievement in Roadside Improvement, for the “roadside store which does a successful business without benefit of posters, signs or other roadside advertising.”
Within a year of the shop’s opening, business had increased to the point where “hundreds of folks drive out to buy those things that are just a little different”, reported the Capital Journal.
An advertisement for Eola Acres Florist and Gift Shop (Willamette Heritage Center collection)
Agnes needed more room, so in 1940 the Schuckings built a larger retail store on the site which incorporated and updated the original structure. The larger space boasted 2016 square feet with a small basement of 168 feet in the back northwest corner. With the new structure came a new name, Eola Acres Florist and Gift Shop.
The farm and gift shop’s success skyrocketed.
Garden and florist organizations began to recognize them with awards.
Ten years later it was time for another remodel, this time late in the year 1950. When construction delays threatened their Christmas business, Agnes opened the family home to host the shop’s Christmas displays. And a holiday tradition was born. The annual event came to be known as Holiday House and was held daily from Thanksgiving weekend through Christmas Eve each year, typically from noon to 8 p.m.
From Christmas open houses, floral parades, community events, and the bread and butter of weddings, funerals and other special occasions, the Eola Acres Florist and Gift Shop continued to operate through the years. Employees Bob Owens and Helene Schultz were adopted by Agnes in 1953 and continued to help run the business. Then tragically in 1969, death claimed Agnes in October and son Bob a month later. The business and property passed to Helene. She ran it successfully until its final Holiday House and closure in December 1996.
Property records show that ownership was converted to a living trust in 1999. Then in 2000 after the death of Helene, Eola Acres LLC was set up. The property remained under this holding until 2020 when it was purchased by J&M Rental Properties LLC. It is currently under development.
The Eola Acres site today (Photo by Sara Belousek)
Kaylyn Mabey is a research assistant at Willamette Heritage Center. This short article is abstracted from a series of articles about Eola that ran in Beaver Briefs: A Quarterly of the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society. To obtain the entire 19 page article, which includes biographical information and additional photographs, contact: WVGS c/o [email protected]
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