Ear: Electric

A tidbit from The Daily Morning Astorian, May 14, 1889:

"The electric clock exhibition was largely attended yesterday afternoon and evening. It is well worth the price of admission, and Astorians should not fail to see it."

Believe it or not, that would have been exciting. Although Scottish inventor Alexander Bain designed the first clock to run on electric current in 1841, and Thomas Edison formed an electric light company in 1882, only half of the country had electric power in their homes even by 1925.

So, it was a very big deal when the Journal of Electricity and Western Industry (July to December 1921) heralded "Oregon's First Electrical Home Soon to be Opened." The text of the story takes it up another notch, calling the dwelling the first in the whole Northwest.

Touted as being constructed for a "a prominent doctor of Astoria … (and) ideally located in one of the best residential sections of the city," the house was expected to be ready for an open house from Sept. 14 to 18, 1921, to show off all of its glorious innovations.

"… Those who visit it will find here a home properly illuminated and provided with adequate convenience outlets to accommodate some 50 electrical household devices all designed to beautify as well as lessen the work in the home." And, gilding the lily, the house would be floodlit at night. For 1921, it was truly a modern marvel.

Sadly, the doctor's name and address were not mentioned, which makes one wonder: Did the house survive the devastating 1922 fire? Another Astoria mystery, it would seem. (bit.ly/newlght, bit.ly/bainclock, bit.ly/astlght)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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