Slick in brick

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The native tuffstone used by stonemasons to build some of Baker City's oldest buildings helped shape the town's signature look.

Today it's brick that is making its mark in the redeveloping Campbell Street region just past the park.

The National Guard's new armory was designed to echo the design of the Natatorium, today the Oregon Trail Regional Museum.

And during the armory's construction, Dennis Dorrah put a paint brush to his York's General Store and transformed white cinder block into the illusion of a brick building the trompe l'oeil, or andquot;trick of the eye,andquot; tourism consultant Roger Brooks promoted at the economic summit in 2004 for livening up otherwise ornamental-less structures. The results at the grocery are impressive.

Now the building that started it all, the Oregon Trail Regional Museum, has upped the ante with an outdoor display of traditional work images farming, lumber, mining fitted into recesses on the building's exterior.

The museum has also announced plans to pursue another one of Brooks' keen observations: that the andquot;Oregon Trail Regional Museumandquot; and andquot;Oregon Trail Interpretive Centerandquot; are too similar in name not to confuse tourists.

Brooks' suggestion: choose a central theme for the regional museum and re-brand the institution around that theme.

The museum seems to be steaming in that direction with the new art installations. The museum doesn't truly have as much to do with the Oregon Trail as it does the history of how and why people lived and worked in Baker County.

Portland has the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Could Baker be home to the Oregon Museum of Pioneer Industry, in the heart of the Brick District?

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The Baker City Herald
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Sunday September 25, 2016

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