One hundred candles on Rose City Veterinarys cake
- Dana Beck
- The Bee - Features
Few businesses can boast of existing for over 100 years.
One that can is the Rose City Veterinary Hospital on S.E. Powell Boulevard just west of Milwaukie Avenue, which celebrates its golden anniversary this year.
Dr. Gustav H. Huthman established the Rose City Veterinary hospital in 1911 in a building that was once occupied by the Portland Fire Department Hose Company #3. At that time Portland had only 14 surgeons qualified as veterinarians, and only two were available on the east side of the Willamette River.
Gustav was born and raised in Portland in 1890; his parents, Augustus and Sophie, emigrated from Germany, and like many other Europeans of that day, took whatever job was offered. Many immigrants from overseas had been apprenticed for a specific trade in their homeland that could be used in America. If there wasn't a position available in their field they often accepted a job as a common laborer, or learned new skills from senior workers at the place there were hired.
During his lifetime in Portland, Gustav's father Augustus held a variety of jobs - first as an independent carpenter, and later as a barn man with the Portland Railway Light and Power Company. Finally, enough money was saved that his son Gus was able to attend the San Francisco Veterinary College in 1908, and he graduated three years later.
Aside from the San Francisco school, students interested in the study of animal care usually had to travel to the premier veterinary college located in Chicago, or other institutions back east.
On his arrival back in Portland, Gus Huthman saw an opportunity to open a pet hospital at the vacant fire station at Grant and S.E. 7th, next door to where his parents lived. In 1911 he married Henrietta B. Wessel, and with the backing of T.B. Carter and Mrs. E.M. Harris, he started the Rose City Veterinary Hospital.
The demand for horse care was declining in that era, as autos became available, but the care for the family pets was on the upswing. Dr. Huthman saw the need to establish a hospital that treated dogs and cats, as well as boarded animals for an additional fee.
Alhough the practice primarily served the needs of pet owners, Dr. Huthman still considered himself a large animal vet, and was occasionally called upon to treat horses, goats, cows, and various other livestock.
'My grandfather travelled to San Francisco to perform an autopsy on an elephant,' today recalls his grandson, Gary Huthman Purvine. As a youngster, he remembers the clinic's advertising pole, which stood in front of the hospital on the corner of Grant and S.E. 7th Street. Besides being an active member of the local Rotary Club, Dr. Huthman was President of the Oregon State Veterinary Association, and spoke out about the poor conditions at the time at the local zoo in Washington Park.
On July 14th, 1936 seven prominent veterinarians gathered in Room 320 of the Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland to organize the Portland Veterinary Medical Association. These men included Dr. C.J. Milleson, J.H. Bailey, W.E Ruggles, James B. Harrison, R.H. Krutzer, Walter Steele, and Gus Huthman.
As Dr. Huthman became successful, he and his wife Henrietta moved into the historic Poulson House that still stands guard over the entrance to the Brooklyn neighborhood on the corner of Powell and McLoughlin Boulevard. This majestic Queen Anne spectacular was built in 1890 by lumber magnate Johan Poulson, part-owner of the Inman and Poulson Lumber Mill. Located north of the Ross Island Bridge, the lumber mill was one of the largest producers of timber products in Oregon.
One of the house's most prominent features is a round turret with an open balcony on the third floor, and a conical tent roof. On the opposite side of S.E. Powell, an identical Queen Anne style house had been built by Robert D. Inman. The Inman structure was removed in 1954 by the State Highway Department, to make way for an approach ramp for the Ross Island Bridge. The Huthmans, with daughters Aubrey and Beatrice, would reside at the famous Poulson house for the next 23 years.
A unique sight to see around town during those years was an all-white motor truck that Dr. Huthman used as a pet ambulance. A noted motor enthusiast, Gus converted his 1923 Studebaker truck into an emergency vehicle that was advertised as a 'Canine and Feline Coach'. Little is known how many years he serviced the animal coach or what happened to it, but it certainly provided a great advertising billboard when the good doctor drove it around town.
On the evening of June 27th, 1948, while returning from a lecture, Dr. Huthman unexpectedly experienced a massive heart attack and passed away. The reins of the Rose City Veterinary Hospital were taken over by animal surgeons Walter H. Steele and Clifford. A. Bjork, and in 1953 they moved to new headquarters on 809 S.E. Powell Boulevard, where it is still located.
While Dr. Bjork ran the hospital through to the 1970's, William J. Friesen managed the hospital for the following ten years, with successive owners coming and going until the purchase of the practice by Craig Quirk in 1996.
A graduate of the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Quirk offers animal patients some of the best technology available to pet owners. Therapeutic lasers, digital radiography, ultrasound, and full blood analysis are now available to diagnose the symptoms of animals - once not much more than guesswork in the early 1900's.
A complete renovation of the building was completed in 2005, and the Rose City Veterinary Hospital now provides 'state-of-the-art' medical equipment a 'whimsical collection of Dr. Quirk's animal art', and as always a trusted and compassionate practice for family pets' needs.