The Levi Wayne & Iona May Robbins House
123 North Shirley Street
By Gail J. McCormick
The Levi Wayne & Iona May Robbins House is located at 123 North Shirley Street in Molalla, Oregon. Levi Wayne’s father’s name was also Levi, so he was called Wayne. The house was built by Oliver Willard Robbins, Wayne’s brother. Oliver was a very skilled carpenter and built several homes in Molalla and the Methodist Church on Main Street. Wayne and Iona bought the property in 1899, the same year they were married. Iona was the daughter of Charles and Mary Cline Rivers. The house, built in the Foursquare, Craftsman architectural style, is two and one-half stories in height. It has a central dormer and a large front porch with wide stairs. The interior has mahagany woodwork and crystal door knobs. In its time, it would have been a stately residence. Wayne and Iona often called it their “house on the hill”. The house is privately owned.
Levi Wayne Robbins
Levi Wayne Robbins was born August 30, 1876, at Molalla, Oregon. His parents were Levi, Sr. and Ediff Barger Robbins. In 1852, Levi Sr. traversed the Oregon Trail, with his family, when he was 16 years old. In 1853, Levi, Sr.’s father, Jacob, filed Donation Land Claim #2982, two miles east of Salem. In 1865, Jacob traded the Donation Land Claim for the 640 acre Charles Sweigle Donation Land Claim just east of Molalla. This land was where the beautiful Coleman Ranch is today. In 1857, Levi Sr. and his brother, Harvey, purchased 480 acres in Linn County. There Levi, Sr. met his wife, Ediff Barger, who was from Harrisburg. Ediff’s parents were Gilford Preston Barger and Martha Summers Barger. In 1860, Levi, Sr. sold his share of the property and purchased 700 acres which lay next to his father’s land in Molalla.
In 1890, Levi, Sr. and his son, Oliver Willard, purchased a general merchandise business in Molalla from Saul Hardesty. Oliver Willard eventually sold out and went into the carpentry business. This store was on the southeast corner of East Main Street and South Molalla Avenue. In 1896, the business was moved across the street to the southwest corner of West Main Street and South Molalla Avenue. Wayne began working in the store when he was 14 years old. In 1901, Wayne and his brother, Everman, bought the store from their father and changed the name to “Robbin’s Bros. Store”. Frank Everhart was also involved in the business.
The Robbins Bros. Store had a large variety of general merchandise stocked. Wayne’s wife, Iona, was the official buyer for the store. She brought much excitement on her buying trips to Portland, where she was “dubbed Mrs. Molalla” at the Portland Buyer’s Fairs in the 1920s. In August of 1922, she won the Booster’s Prize at the Buyer’s fair for the best speech bragging about your home town. The Robbin’s Bros. Store soon became an informal community meeting place. In 1898, the first telephone switchboard, in Molalla, was installed in the store. The brothers ran the store until 1925 when they sold out to J. C. and Myrtle Prigmore and C. B. and Irma Skinner. This business was incorporated under the name Molalla Mercantile Company.
In addition to running the store, Wayne was one of the organizers of the Molalla State Bank and was the first President. In 1930, Wayne moved to Portland, where he worked for another thirty years for the Miller Mercantile Company. He retired in 1964, in his 80’s, but continued being an active golfer into his 90s. At that age, he was golfing five days a week at Eastmoreland Golf Club. At the age of 92, he took second place in the National Oldtimers Golf Tournament, held in Chicago. Levi Wayne Robbins died in 1971, at Molalla, Oregon. Iona May Robbins died in 1945, at Portland, Oregon.
“L. W. Robbins for Representative”, Family Record, No newspaper listed, May, 1908
“Levi Wayne Robbins”, 1880, 1900, 1910 & 1920 U. S. Censuses for Molalla Oregon, Ancestry.com
“New Business Takes Over Robbins’ Store”, Molalla Pioneer, 1925
“Robbins Bros Co. is Pride of Molalla Prairie in 1906”, Oregon City Courier, April 13, 1906
“Robbins Family History”, (8 pages), No author noted, 1921
Unnamed House, Clackamas County Resource Study, Building #804, 1984
“Wayne Robbins Passes”, Family Record, No newspaper listed, January, 1971
© Gail J. McCormick, 2018