ENTERPRISE — One of the principal buildings from the former logging town of Maxville is being restored in Enterprise in preparation for its reassembly at the Maxville townsite next year.
In June, the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center closed on the 240-acre site that includes Maxville. The town, about a dozen miles north of Wallowa, existed as a company logging town from 1923 to 1933.
At one time, Maxville was the largest town in Wallowa County, according to the Maxville website. It was home to African-American loggers at a time when Oregon’s Constitution included a provision excluding Blacks from the state. Maxville had a population of about 400 residents, 40 to 60 of them African-American, the website says.
Gwen Trice, executive director and founder of the interpretive center, said her father, grandfather, uncles and cousins came from Arkansas to work as loggers in Maxville. Interviewed on Friday, Nov. 11, Trice said that the main lodge — which served as the town’s administrative building — was built in 1923. It has been dismantled and will be rebuilt at the site in the spring, which will be the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Maxville.
The building is undergoing restoration at Bronson Log Homebuilders in Enterprise. The 1,600-square-foot building with a two-story stone fireplace, kitchen, bathroom and large main room was dismantled in 2015 and has been in storage since.
“Now it’s going back where it was except now it’ll have a foundation,” Trice said, adding that the foundation has been completed.
The building was donated by Manulife Investment Management, which used to be Hancock Logging, one of the successors to the original Bowman-Hicks Lumber Co.
She declined to say how much Bronson is being paid for the restoration work, but did say the interpretive center has received funding from several sources, including $750,000 from state lottery bond sales and funding from the Oregon Community Foundation, members of which visited recently.
The center also requested and received a $10,000 grant, with $10,000 matching in in-kind support and funds raised, to get the townsite listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Chieftain reported in July. That money will help cover the cost of the nomination process.
Trice said plans are still being made for the townsite. Archaeological work and “sensitive research” is underway, though she did not go into detail.
She said the site plan will include using the former administrative building as a small retreat space that would allow up to 40 people to stay overnight.
“We are planning for people to come for overnight stays,” she said.
So far, visitors from Whitman College and others are making plans to stay at the townsite.
Such visits must be scheduled in advance with the interpretive center, as the site is not open for the public to come at will, Trice said. Times and dates when the townsite will be open will be announced next year, she said.
The interpretive center also is working on a timber management plan, as well as plans for cleanup, protecting the water resources, wildlife and birds, she said.
“We’re looking at how we’re going to have a very light, green footprint,” she said.
She said the plan doesn’t call for restoration of more than the former administrative building. That building will not replace the interpretive center in Joseph.
The center in Joseph, she said, “won’t go away.”
In addition to overseeing the restoration of the former administrative building, Trice is planning various programs to be held both at the center and at the townsite.
The main event will be the centennial celebration in June, but a number of educational programs also are in the works. Wallowa Resources in Enterprise is one of the primary organizations Trice has been working with to develop such programs, she said.
The annual Maxville gatherings also will resume, after being on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trice said they also plan “dark skies” times for stargazing at the townsite, which is remote enough from urban light pollution to allow the nighttime skies to be fully visible.
“We’re building experiences in those spaces,” she said.