Johns*, original owner of the home and Mayor of Baker City, aspired to
governorship of the state of Oregon. In
anticipation of his election, the rotunda tower veranda with conical roof was
added as an imposing place from which to make his acceptance speech. He hoped to make Baker City the capitol of
Oregon. Johns was defeated and Baker
County once again lost it’s bid to bring the state capitol to Eastern
Oregon (Auburn and Pocahontas had
previous bids for the state capitol).
serving as home for several families, the house was converted to a funeral
home (West & Company) in the early
1930s by Earl and Maude West. Maude was
the first female funeral director to become licensed in the state of Oregon. Throughout the years the porch has been
enclosed; the bracketed eaves, central portico, impressive stairway,
multi-colored glass panel bookcases, French doors and leaded front windows have
been preserved. Today the home is owned
by Dennis and Darlene Teskey and is occupied by Gray’s West & Company
Pioneer Chapel. It is the oldest funeral home in Eastern Oregon dating back to
1887 when it was known as Welch and Company.
The Johns home continues to house living quarters on the second and
architect John Bennes later moved to Western Oregon and became architect for
the Oregon System of Higher Education.
Grant was the contractor on all Mr. Bennes’ work but he would not leave Baker
to move to Portland as Bennes requested.
Johns and family came to Baker City in 1888.
Mr. Johns practiced law with the firm of Hyde, Johns and Olmsted. Other partners were Charles F. Hyde, husband
of Molly Packwood, first white child born in Auburn and M.L. Olmsted, retired
Judge of the Sixth Judicial District.
Although Mr. Johns never became Governor, he became Associate Justice of
the Oregon Supreme Court and in 1921 was appointed Chief Justice of the