COBURG, Oregon – Come for the antiques, but stay for the history – that’s the historic city of Coburg, where you can visit no less than 20 historic buildings, while also having an opportunity to shop in multiple antique shops offering a variety of collectables, retro items, and absolute fun stuff.
Established in 1847 by John Diamond and Jacob Spores, on land formerly occupied by the Kalapuya Tribes, it was originally known as Diamond. Located on the I-5 corridor just north Eugene, Coburg’s historical growth mirrors, in many ways, the growth of the state of Oregon.
Initially, serving Oregon’s timber industry, Diamond and Spores operated a ferry service across the McKenzie River. Later Spores built one of the first mills in the area. In 1865 blacksmith Charles Payne began calling the community Coburg in celebration of an exceptional stallion from Coburg, Germany.
Over the years Coburg, like most towns and cities of Oregon, has been impacted by the changes in the state’s economy as it has transformed from a timber-focused town to a diverse farming community, surrounded by vineyards, u-pick farms, hop farms, and a multitude of animal farms including sheep, horses, Alpacas, and cattle. Once a booming RV construction center, it is still the home to Marathon Coaches, luxury RVs which retail for more than $1 million.
Today the city is on the National Registry and features a downtown walking tour in which one can view more than 25 historic homes and buildings, including the homes of Diamond and Payne. One can witness history in the architecture of days past on this stroll through the historic city.
It’s an idyllic destination for a day, a weekend, or longer, and when it comes to antiques and vintage items, there are few stops that can beat Coburg with its large variety of shops offering items for everyone’s interest. Community really describes Coburg and the antique shops there best. While each shop is a little different in its offerings, and there is an overlap, but that doesn’t stop proprietors from helping a shopper find a specific item, even when it means sending the buyer across the street to another shop.
Notes Roxanne Emmons of the Coburg Antique Mall, “We all work together for the betterment of our customers and each other.”
However, like many communities, the COVID-19 Pandemic has damped many of the festivities of the area along with the recent fires and smoke. Coburg attempted an Antique Bazar September 9-13, and while the first day was successful, the nearby fires and smoke drove merchants and shoppers alike home early.
Emmons, who spearheads the local antique community, and whose two shops have been in business for the longest in the area, says the community has planned for two events leading up to the end of the 2020 year.
The first will be a Christmas Open House in Coburg, the weekend of November 7-9, with shops stocking special inventory which includes holiday decorations and gifts. Later, the weekend of December 12-13 the annual Christmas in Coburg Celebration is scheduled, which will include the lighting of the city park, a chili festival and of course the opportunity to find an additional reserve of fine antiques brought in for this occasion.
There’s nothing like a stroll around the streets of Coburg in which one drinks in a vast diversity of items in shops. Coburg boasts a variety of antique and vintage showrooms and boutiques and one favorite of many is The Old Shed where former Illinois resident Tom Johnson houses an eclectic variety of items from the simplest of trinkets to unique antique items he’s culled from his many years in the business, many from Midwest.
Originally built in 1917 and rather primitive for many years with no insulation or plumbing, after Johnson bought the building, it was transformed into its current state over a two-year period of time, opening in 2017.
Johnson’s collection brings high interest from many visitors and he’s had items on the Antique Road Show in the past. One gets an idea of his sense of history when visiting The Old Shed as the door to his office was taken from the State of Illinois Building in Chicago and is the door from the filming of the Elliott Ness movie.
Johnson brings a wealth of experience to the world of collectables but also has a wry sense of humor making visitations all the more memorable. He quips, “My wife and I have an agreement. If I die first, she’s going to have a whale of a garage sale; if she dies first, I’m going to fill the house like it should be.”
At Gracie Maxwell’s owner Christy Kintagh offers a different focus with here shop, named after her mother and father. Offering a blend of old and new she notes, “We are not a collectable shop in the classic sense, but rather we offer antiques for today’s home.
“We hope the newer generation might find antiques here that they can appreciate in their homes,” she added.
You’ll not find baubles or bangles in Gracie Maxwell, but you will find classic home décor which has been combined with a new finish or fresh upholstery turning vintage items into modern classics.
On the other side of the coin is Rick Morgan and The Blingy Barn, which Morgan describes as a seller of unique, eclectic, vintage, antique, industrial chic and rustic home décor – in other words, something for everyone.
Morgan appears to have his fingers on the pulse of the collecting world and continually brings in new items which seem to resonate with visitors to his shop.
“It’s certainly been a different season for Coburg this year. Oregon is a popular destination for travelers from around the world and while we’ve obviously seen a decline in traffic with the pandemic, we have still had strong traffic from the normal northwest collectible tourist,” he said.
Perhaps one of the larger stores to visit is the Coburg Antique Mall where Emmons has 30 vendors from Oregon and Washington, who she notes bring a high level of expertise to the items their individual booths.
Browsing her operation you’ll find everything from a Mason jar and burlap to Mid-Century Modern, vintage clothes and estate jewelry. It’s a place where quality antiques and vintage finds are readily available.
Coburg’s downtown area, small as it may seem, also gives visitors a wide variety of eateries from a local Pizza parlor to a cafés and restaurants in historic buildings. There’s also a variety of places to stay in the Coburg area from B&BS to regular motels.
Coburg – it’s out of the ordinary, but not out of the way.