BEND, OR -- The Deschutes Historical Society will rededicate Brandis Square, Friday, in downtown Bend. Deschutes Historical Museum Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller says the small space at Newport and Wall now has a new plaque honoring Richard Brandis, Bend’s Mayor from 1953 to 1954. The square was first dedicated by Mayor John Stenkamp in 1976, shortly after Brandis died. In 2017, Stenkamp’s daughter Jennifer was walking near Newport and Wall, with Brandis’ daughter. "And they went to the square to see the plaque and it wasn’t there. And," says Cannon-Miller, "That put Jennifer on a quest of ‘where has the plaque gone?’"
She tells KBND News the plaque seems to have disappeared more than a decade before, but no one noticed, "Best we can figure, the plaque went missing in 2006, when they were doing bridge work on Newport and then some street and corner curb repair at that same intersection. At some point it was taken down and went missing, and was never replaced." Cannon-Miller and Stenkamp worked with the city to try and find the old plaque, "We’re talking to the current City Recorder Robyn Christie, who really deserves a lot of thanks for this, because it was Robyn who one day just said ‘rather than trying to find what happened to the old one, let’s remake it.’ Because, while I didn’t have the real plaque, I have a photograph of it."
Brandis was an important figure in Bend, according to Cannon-Miller. He owned the Thriftway Drug near what is now Brandis Square, with a second floor toy store, popular in the 1940s and 50s, "His drug store, that toy shop was the only game in town for a really long time. And so, all the kids who grew up during that time period, they all remember getting to go and play in the toy store upstairs." Aside from a short term as Mayor, she says, Brandis played an important role in Bend's history, especially after the mills left, "Everybody knew him; he was a major player in keeping the city moving and growing, but in a quiet way. So, he passed away at only age 62 after a series of strokes and I think that his death really shocked the community."
Brandis died in 1975. Brandis Square was created the following year, with a large blue spruce and landscaping, "The creation of this public space really was a memorial to a person who had meant a lot to the community and the people who lived here." In 1985, a water fountain was installed. Now, Cannon-Miller says it’s a popular location for protests. "It’s not recognizable by his name anymore and that’s really what we would like to see change, is that this very vibrant space that actually is used quite a lot and is highly visible to everyone, kind of reclaims its name."
Friday's rededication ceremony takes place at noon at Brandis Square. Cannon-Miller says members of Brandis' family will be on hand to celebrate the replacement of the memorial plaque. The event is part of Historic Preservation Month. Click HERE for a full schedule of local events honoring local history and heritage sites.