Elmo Smith

What’s In Your Attic?

The Capitol Foundation is searching for missing pieces of Oregon’s past.

The Capitol Foundation is asking for your help tracking down formal artwork portraying former Oregon governors. Many oil paintings of territorial and state governors were lost when the previous capitol burned in 1935, but we know that some were saved and others might exist. They may be in private homes, schools, universities, museums, businesses, courthouses or public buildings.

Of particular interest are portraits formerly displayed in the Oregon State Capitol and the stories of how the artwork made its way to its new location. The Capitol Foundation wants to log the artwork’s existence but does not want to reclaim the portraits. The location of artwork in private residences will remain private. If you have information about the location of the gubernatorial portraits listed below or other formal artwork that portrays an Oregon governor, please contact us.

“My grandfather Arch Geer, who I called Pappy, helped rescue portraits of the governors from the walls of the burning building, including Gov. Geer’s portrait, but it vanished. Years later, Pappy found the Geer portrait in Walden Hall at Willamette University. After its restoration, the painting made its way to the Geer building at MacLaren School, eventually making its way back to the Capitol.”

Joan Plank, Capitol Foundation Board member

Capitol Foundation’s Governors’ Portrait Search is making the news!

Found portraits of former Oregon governors:

  1. Lane, Joseph
  2. Davis, John W.
  3. Pennoyer, Sylvester
  4. Lord, William Paine
  5. Chamberlain, George
  6. Withycombe, James
  7. Sprague, Charles
  8. McKay, James Douglas
  9. Smith, Elmo E.
  10. Gaines, John P.
  11. Patterson, Paul L.

Missing portraits of former Oregon governors:

  1. Abernethy, George, July 14, 1845–Mar. 3, 1849.
  2. Benson, Frank W., March 1, 1909–June 17, 1910.
  3. Bowerman, Jay, June 17, 1910–Jan. 11, 1911.
  4. Chadwick, Stephen Fowler, Feb. 1, 1877–Sept. 11, 1878.
  5. Curry, George L., Aug. 1, 1854–Mar. 3, 1859, and May 19, 1853, to
    Dec. 2, 1853 (Acting).
  6. Gibbs, Addison C., Sept. 10, 1862–Sept. 12, 1866.
  7. Grover, Lafayette (Gov.), Sept. 14, 1870 – Feb. 1, 1877.
  8. Hall, John Hubert, Oct. 30, 1947–Jan. 10, 1949.
  9. Holmes, Robert Denison, Jan. 14, 1957–Jan. 12, 1959.
  10. Moody, Zenas Ferry, Sept. 13, 1882–Jan. 12, 1887.
  11. Norblad, Albin Walter, Dec. 21, 1929–Jan. 12, 1931.
  12. Olcott, Ben, March 3, 1919–Jan. 8, 1923.
  13. Patterson, Isaac Lee, Jan. 10, 1927–Dec. 21, 1929.
  14. Pierce, Walter Marcus, Jan. 8, 1923–Jan. 10, 1927.
  15. Pritchette, Kintzing, June 18, 1850–Aug. 18, 1850.
  16. Snell, Earl Wilcox, Jan. 11, 1943–Oct. 30, 1947.
  17. Thayer, William Wallace, Sept. 11, 1878–Sept. 13, 1882.
  18. Whiteaker, John, March 3, 1859–Sept. 10, 1862.
  19. Woods, George Lemuel, Sept. 12, 1866–Sept. 14, 1870.

Oregon’s governors
State Government: 1859 – present

Click a link below to skip to governors who served during the time period:

Kotek
Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

Gov. Tina Kotek (D)
January 9, 2023 – Present

Check back later to learn how you can help the Capitol Foundation raise funds for the commissioning of a portrait depicting Oregon Governor Tina Kotek. The completed artwork will be available for public viewing at the Oregon State Capitol sometime after her time in office ends.

Gov. Kate Brown
Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

Gov. Kate Brown (D)
February 18, 2015 – January 9, 2023

See the Capitol Foundation Gov. Kate Brown’s Portrait page to view updates on her gubernatorial portrait. Gov. Brown selected portrait artist Robin Damore to paint the official portrait documenting her governorship. The portrait is expected to be unveiled following the 2025 reopening of the Capitol. 

Kitzhaber
Oregon State Capitol Foundation photo.

Gov. John A. Kitzhaber (D)
January 9, 1995 – January 13, 2003 
and January 10, 2011 – February 18, 2015

The Capitol Foundation commissioned this portrait of Gov. John A. Kitzhaber, made possible by donors like you. No public funds were used for the purchase of the portrait or the May 27, 2009, unveiling reception.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of our 150 donors.”
– Former Oregon State Senator Jane Cease, who spearheaded the Kitzhaber Portrait Project for the Capitol Foundation.

Artist: Henk Pander, 2009.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Kulongoski
Oregon State Capitol Foundation photo.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D)
January 13, 2003 – January 10, 2011

Commissioned by the Oregon State Capitol Foundation, private donations funded the cost of the portrait. No public funds were used for the purchase of the portrait.

“It’s an honor to have been selected to paint Governor Kulongkoski’s portrait. The painting is in some ways a narrative of the Governor’s rich experience in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, and reflects his dedication to public service. He is an inspiration to many and I hope to have captured those qualities of leadership in his portrait.”
– Eduardo Fernandez during the Jan. 5, 2011, portrait unveiling.

Artist: Eduardo Fernandez, 2011.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Roberts
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Barbara Roberts (D)
January 14, 1991 – January 9, 1995

Watch the Capitol Foundation’s oral history project interview with former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts to learn more about the person behind the portrait. Chris D’Arcy, Oregon Arts Commission, recalls a regional arts and cultures council collected money for the purchase of this portrait of Gov. Roberts.

Artist: Aimee Erickson, 1997.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Gov. Neil Goldschmidt (D)
January 12, 1987 – January 14, 1991

The portrait of former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, painted by Robert Bibler in 1992, is in the custody of Oregon Historical Society. It is not available for public viewing. 

Atiyeh
Oregon State Capitol Foundation photo.

Gov. Victor G. Atiyeh (R)
January 8, 1979 – January 12, 1987

Watch the Capitol Foundation’s oral history interview of Governor Victor Atiyeh to find out more about Gov. Atiyeh. According to the Historic Properties Inventory of Artifacts and Furnishings from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department – Heritage Programs, Historical Properties commissioned this painting from the artist, Don Gray. Secretary Norma Paulus selected Gray for the project.

Artist: Don Gray, 1986.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Straub
Oregon State Capitol Foundation photo.

Gov. Robert William Straub (D)
January 13, 1975 – January 8, 1979

This portrait of Bob Straub is titled “Governor Robert Straub & Shadrach along the Willamette River (Oregon Governor 1975-1978).” The State Historical Properties Commission purchased the painting using donations and other non-public funds. 

Artist: Paul Missal, 1986.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

McCall
Photo by Joel Zak. Oregon State Capitol Foundation photo.

Gov. Thomas Lawson McCall (R)
January 9, 1967 – January 13, 1975

According to the Historic Properties Inventory of Artifacts and Furnishings from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department – Heritage Programs, Norma Paulus, Secretary of State and chairperson of the State Historical Properties Commission raised funds for this life-size portrait of Gov. McCall. 

Listen to painter Henk Pander describe the research and study of Gov. McCall that went into this portrait.

Artist: Henk Pander, 1982-1984.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Hatfield
Photo courtesy of Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Mark Odom Hatfield (R)
January 12, 1959 – January 9, 1967

Hear sculptor Ken Hunt describe the creation of this marble bust
of former Oregon Governor Mark O. Hatfield. 

Oregon Historical Properties purchased the artwork from the artist, Kenneth Hunt, who recalled that the marble, which was sold as a money-raising project, was from the stairs leading up to the Capitol.
Hunt met with Hatfield once to take head and facial measurements and then sculpted the bust referring to photos from Gerry Frank’s press kit. Dave Rhoten, a friend of Hunt’s, was the model for the “body” of the bust. Hunt went to Rhoten’s home late one evening, got him out of bed and asked him to change from his pajamas into a suit and tie to model for the bust.

Artist: Kenneth G. Hunt, 1986.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Holmes
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Robert Denison Holmes (D)
January 14, 1957 – January 12, 1959

Does this face look familiar? We’re looking for Gov. Holmes’ portrait, so if you find a old painting of him, please let us know!

 

Elmo Smith
Photo courtesy of the Oregon State Capitol Foundation. Photo of Hon. Norm Smith and Hon. Denny Smith holding the portrait.

Gov. Elmo Everett Smith (R)
February 1, 1956 – January 14, 1957

This portrait of Gov. Elmo Smith was created in approximately 1960, just after he left office.  

Artist: Unknown.

Location: Private residence of Smith family.

Patterson Paul
Photo courtesy of Paul L. Patterson Elementary School.

Gov. Paul Linton Patterson (R)
December 27, 1952 – February 1, 1956

Governor Patterson’s autographed portrait hangs in the Paul L. Patterson Elementary School office. The portrait was presented to Leanna Jeffords, principal of the school, by Patterson’s children on November 23, 2000, during the dedication of the building. 

Location: Patterson Elementary School; Hillsboro, Oregon.

McKay
Photo courtesy of the family of Douglas McKay.

Gov. James Douglas McKay (R)
January 10, 1949 – December 27, 1952

This portrait of Gov. McKay currently hangs at McKay High School. The portrait was dedicated to the new high school on March 9, 1980. McKay’s two daughters, Shirley Hadley and Mary Lou Green, presented the portrait. The portrait is believed to have been from McKay’s time as Secretary of the Interior. 

Artist: William H.M. Weber.

Location: McKay High School; Salem, Oregon.

Hall
Photo courtesy of Beaver Yearbook Photographs (P 003), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Gov. John Hubert Hall (R)
October 30, 1947 – January 10, 1949

The Capitol Foundation is on the lookout for Gov. Hall’s official portrait. If you have any information for us, please let us know by
email or call 503-363-1859.

Snell
Photo courtesy of Oregon Hist. Soc. Research Library, 014442.

Gov. Earl Wilcox Snell (R)
January 11, 1943 – October 30, 1947 

The Foundation is searching for Gov. Earl Snell’s portrait. Please contact us if you have clues on where it’s located.

Sprague
Photo courtesy of Amber Reeves.

Gov. Charles Arthur Sprague (R)
January 9, 1939 – January 11, 1943

This portrait hangs at Sprague High School, and it is believed to be a reproduction of a photograph. 

Artist: Unknown.

Location: Sprague High School; Salem, Oregon.

Martin
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Charles Henry Martin (D)
January 14, 1935 – January 9, 1939

This bronze bust of Gov. Martin resides in the governor’s ceremonial office at the Oregon State Capitol. 

Artist: Adrien Voisin, 1936.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Meier1935
Photo as shown on Oregon State Capitol historical tag H-00877 document.

Gov. Julius L. Meier (I)
January 12, 1931 – January 14, 1935 

The Oregon legislature commissioned the portrait in 1935. In 1983, the portrait was located in the employee’s lunchroom of Portland Meier & Frank store. The artwork had a lump in the canvas in the area of the nose and above the head. Thompson Conservation Laboratory in Portland restored the painting before its return to the Capitol.

Artist: Edward G Sewall, 1935.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

 

Meier1932
Photo as shown on Stoots Fine Art Appraisal, Ref. #09-130.

“According to a document that is placed with this portrait of Gov. Julius L. Meier, the provenance is as follows: The widow, Mrs. Grace Ross Mayer Meier; to her daughter Mrs. Joseph (Jean Ellen Meier) Ehrman II; to her son, Joseph Ehrman III; to his niece, Debra Ehrman Kay of Portland. Dates are not noted.”
– Stoots Fine Art Appraisal, Ref. #09-130.

This portrait was a gift from Ms. Kay to the Oregon State Capitol on March 31, 1967. The Capitol may retain the painting so long as it is displayed.

Artist: Henry Wolff, 1932.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Norblad
Photo courtesy of The Oregonian.

Gov. Albin Walter Norblad (R)
December 21, 1929 – January 12, 1931

Does this man look familiar? The Capitol Foundation is asking for your help finding a portrait of Gov. Albin Norblad. If you have any paintings that could be of him, please contact us.

Patterson
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-29495.

Gov. Isaac Lee Patterson (R)
January 10, 1927 – December 21, 1929

The Capitol Foundation is on the lookout for Gov. Isaac Patterson’s portrait. Please contact us if you have any leads.

Pierce
Photo courtesy of Oregon Hist. Soc. Research Libr., OrHi 89968.

Gov. Walter Marcus Pierce (D)
January 8, 1923 – January 10, 1927

Gov. Walter Pierce’s portrait location is unknown to the Capitol Foundation. If you have any information on its whereabouts, please email us.

Olcott
Photo courtesy of the OHS Research Library.

Gov. Ben W. Olcott (R)
March 3, 1919 – January 8, 1923

The Capitol Foundation is searching for Gov. Ben W. Olcott’s portrait. Please contact us if you have any information that could help us in our search.  

Withycombe holding
Photo courtesy of Claire Withycombe.

Gov. James Withycombe (R)
January 12, 1915 – March 3, 1919

Claire Withycombe, Gov. James Withycombe’s great great granddaughter, is a reporter at the Statesman Journal, and wrote an article in 2021 titled “My search for a portrait of my great-great-grandfather and a chapter of our family history“. In it, she details her journey to finding out more about a family portrait of Gov. Withycombe. It is unknown as to whether it hung in the Capitol, but it was created during his time in office. 

Artist: Unknown. Inscription on the back of the painting reads “Presented to the Governor by the officers of the State Troops attending the training school at Portland, Ore. Oct. 17th-20th 1918”. 

Location: Private residence of Withycombe family.  

West
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Oswald West (D)
January 11, 1911 – January 12, 1915

This portrait of Gov. Oswald West led Norma Paulus to begin a quest to find all surviving Oregon gubernatorial portraits. She received a tip from an employee at the Oregon State Hospital that there were historical items stored in the tunnels under the buildings. Paulus made the journey down into the tunnels and retrieved the portrait of Gov. West, but didn’t know who it was at the time. Thomas Vaughan of the Oregon Historical Society helped identify the portrait’s subject, and with this discovery, the governors’ portrait search began.

“Back in the Capitol, nobody could identify the subject of the painting, until one day [Paulus] invited the director of the Oregon Historical Society, Thomas Vaughan, to come to see her. Vaughan walked through her door, spotted the painting, and exclaimed, “My God, this is Oswald West!””
The Only Woman in the Room: The Norma Paulus Story

Artist: Arne K. Berger, 1911.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.  

Bowerman
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Jay Bowerman (R)
June 17, 1910 – January 11, 1911

The Capitol Foundation is looking for a portrait of Gov. Jay Bowerman. If you have any clues that could help us in our search, please email us.

Benson
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Frank W. Benson (R)
March 1, 1909 – June 17, 1910

Do you have a painting of Gov. Frank W. Benson in your home or at your office? If so, please contact the Capitol Foundation, as we’re searching for Gov. Benson’s gubernatorial portrait.

Chamberlain Portrait
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mendel L. Peterson.

Gov. George Earle Chamberlain (D)
January 15, 1903 – March 1, 1909

This portrait of Gov. George Chamberlain was created when he was a US Senator from Oregon. 

Artist: Joseph Cummings Chase, 1918.

Location: National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC.

 

Geer
Photo by Oregon State Capitol Foundation.

Gov. Theodore T. Geer (R)
January 9, 1899 – January 15, 1903

In Norma Paulus’ book, The Only Woman in the Room, she writes about her uncle telling a story about going into the burning Capitol to get some valuable public funds investment documents. He recalled seeing paintings propped up against trees on the Capitol Mall and even being carried across the street by Willamette University students. Paulus searched the Willamette buildings and found no portraits. Later, she attended a meeting at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility and saw Gov. Geer’s portrait, which had been brought over from Willamette.

“You see, when the old state house burned, Will Nigh and I tried to save the governors’ pictures. We managed to get my uncle’s picture out to the lawn, then went back in for more. When we searched for it later, it had disappeared. While I was working for the Willamette University, I ran onto it in the attic of Waller Hall. Boards which were stacked on it had made a couple of holes in the canvas. After Mark Hatfield became Governor, at my request, he had it repaired and placed in the Geer building at the State training school for boys.”

— Arch Geer, Gov. Geer’s nephew
“Geer House Holds History, Memories of Renowned Cartoonist”
By Josephine Sommer, Statesman Correspondent
December 12, 1967

The Capitol Foundation earmarked funds to restore this portrait, which made its way back to the Capitol.

Artist: William F. Cogswell, 1899.

Location: Following Capitol construction, it will return to being on display in the Oregon State Capitol.

Lord
Photo by Cathryn Bowie.

Gov. William Paine Lord (R)
January 14, 1895 – January 9, 1899

This portrait of Governor William Paine Lord was created for when he was an Oregon Supreme Court justice from 1880-1894. The portrait is an oil painting.

Artist: E.W. Moore, 1893.

Location: Supreme Court building, law library, 2nd floor. 

Pennoyer
Photo courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society. Oregon Historical Society Museum, 75-1.243.

Gov. Sylvester Pennoyer (D)
January 12, 1887 – January 14, 1895

During the years 1910-1915, Theodore Gegoux painted portraits of the early mayors of Portland, Oregon based off of photographs in the Oregon Historical Society collections. Governor Sylvester Pennoyer served as mayor of Portland from 1896-1898, after he served two terms as governor of Oregon.

Artist: Theodore Gegoux.

Location: Oregon Historical Society storage. 

Moody
Photo courtesy of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Pioneers Association, #WCPA 13-8.

Gov. Zenas Ferry Moody (R)
September 13, 1882 – January 12, 1887

Let us know if you know the location of a painting or bust of the only man from The Dalles ever to hold the top state office of governor, Gov. Zenas Ferry Moody.

Thayer
Photo courtesy of the Oregon State Archives.

Gov. William Wallace Thayer (D)
September 11, 1878 – September 13, 1882

The Capitol Foundation is searching for Gov. William Wallace Thayer’s portrait. If you can provide any information on its whereabouts, please contact us.

Fowler Chadwick
Photo courtesy of the Willamette Heritage Center, 2011.060.0167.

Gov. Stephen Fowler Chadwick (D)
February 1, 1877 – September 11, 1878

Over 2,220 historic Bush Family photographs are available online at the Salem Public Library’s, Oregon Historic Photograph Collection website. We’re merely searching for one historic portrait from late 1800. Do you know where we can find what we’re looking for?

Grover
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-cwpbh-05188.

Gov. Lafayette Grover (D)
September 14, 1870 – February 1, 1877

Does this photograph of a bearded man look similar to a portrait you know of? If so, you may have found a long-lost portrait of Gov. Lafayette Grover. Please contact the Capitol Foundation to let us know its location.

Woods
Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

Gov. George Lemuel Woods (R)
September 12, 1866 – September 14, 1870

With a beard like that, any painting of Gov. Woods should be easy to identify with just a glance. Look familiar? If so, please contact us.

Gibbs
Photo courtesy of the Oregon State Archives.

Gov. Addison C. Gibbs (R)
September 10, 1862 – September 12, 1866

The Capitol Foundation is on the search for Gov. Addison C. Gibbs’ portrait. Please email us if you have any information on its whereabouts.

Whiteaker
Photo courtesy of Angelus Studio photographs, PH037_b055_H00075, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Gov. John Whiteaker (D)
March 3, 1859 – September 10, 1862

Do you suspect you own a portrait of John Whiteaker, the first state governor of Oregon? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

Territorial Government: 1849 to 1859

Curry
Photo courtesy of the Oregon Hist. Soc. Research Lib., 5219.

Gov. George L. Curry (D)
August 1, 1854 – March 3, 1859 and 
May 19, 1853 – December 2, 1853 (Acting)

The Oregon State Capitol Foundation is looking for Gov. George Curry’s portrait. If you have any information on its whereabouts, please contact us.

Davis
Photo courtesy of the US House of Representatives Collection.

Gov. John W. Davis (D)
December 2, 1853 – August 1, 1854

As well as serving as Oregon Territory’s fourth governor, Gov. John W. Davis served in the US House of Representatives, representing Indiana. He was Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and this portrait was created after his time in office as part of a concerted effort to commission portraits of every former Speaker of the House. The portrait is in the collection of the US House of Representatives.

Artist: William Daniel Murphy, 1911.

Location: On display in the Speaker’s Lobby at the United States Capitol located in Washington, D.C. 

Gaines Portrait
Photo courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society.

Gov. John Pollard Gaines (W)
August 18, 1850 – May 16, 1853

This portrait of Gov. John Gaines is currently in storage at the Oregon Historical Society. Information about Gov. Gaines is handwritten on the back of the portrait, but there is no signature.

Artist: Unknown.

Location: Oregon Historical Society storage.

Gov. Kintzing Pritchette (D)
June 18, 1850 – August 18, 1850

Information about this Oregon governor is incredibly scarce. In fact, we’re concerned images of him may not exist. Do you have any leads you can share with us?

Lane Portrait
Photo courtesy of the Newell Pioneer Village.

Gov. Joseph Lane (D)
March 3, 1849 – June 18, 1850 and
May 16, 1853 – May 19, 1853 (Acting)

This portrait of Governor Joseph Lane was presented by the Umpqua Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to the Oregon State Society of DAR. 

Artist: Unknown.

Location: Newell Pioneer Village, St. Paul, OR.

 

Provisional Government: 1843 to 1849

Abernethy
Photo courtesy of the Oregon History Society, Oreg. Hist. Soc. Research Lib., bb003864.

Gov. George Abernethy
July 14, 1845 – March 3, 1849

Will you please help us find a portrait of George Abernethy, Oregon’s first and only provisional governor?