In honor of National Historic Preservation Month, Three Sisters Historical Society Interim President Floyd Leithauser, whose ancestors came to Sisters in 1911, will lead a guided history tour of Cascade Avenue on Saturday, May 18, 1 p.m. Those wishing to join the tour can meet Leithauser in the parking lot in front of City Hall prior to 1 p.m. and be prepared to walk for about an hour.

Leithauser was born and raised in Sisters, graduating from Sisters High School. He left Sisters to attend college at Oregon State and then moved away. He returned to live in Camp Sherman and care for his mother, Edith, a long-time Sisters resident, until her death in 2006. He and his wife, Sue, decided to stay.

Leithauser has an extensive knowledge of the history and residents of Sisters and has a great many stories to share. He will lead the tour attendees on a trip through the earlier days in Sisters, talking about the fire lookout tree, Sorenson’s Motor Court and service station, his father’s grocery store in the building that now houses the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store, and the fires of 1923 and 1924 that leveled a good share of Cascade Avenue businesses. He has a notebook full of historic photos of buildings no longer standing or repurposed for different uses. He will tell the true stories behind the false Western fronts.

Alex Smith came to Sisters in 1900 and bought some land. He sold part of that land to his brother Robert. A year later, the two brothers had six city blocks platted as the original town site. The area lay within the boundary of Cascade Avenue on the south, Adams Avenue on the north, Elm Street on the west, and Larch Street on the east.

They dedicated public easements for the streets and alleys. All of the city lots were the same size: 40 feet wide by 114 feet deep. All blocks measured 240 feet square and were bisected east and west by 12-foot-wide alleys, which still exist today in most blocks. The streets were a generous 80 feet wide.

The Davidson Addition was added to the south of town, including Hood, Washington, and Jefferson avenues (all named after peaks in the Cascade Range). About two decades after the original platting, in 1919 a part of the original John Smith homestead was donated, in two additions, by the McCaffreys — Benjamin and Frank and their wives; and John and Myrtle Dennis. The addition contained six blocks west of the original town site and two blocks east of it.

In the early 1970s, the city limits east of town were extended to include the Edge O’ the Pines addition, which included sites for mobile homes as well as houses. Since then, the city has expanded to include the light industrial area and the airport north of town. Other expansion included the land to the northwest out on McKinney Butte Road, including the middle and high schools and many of the churches. To the east, expansion included the Timber Creek neighborhood off East Cascade Avenue. The Sokol family’s development of Pine Meadow Village to the west joined the city in the early 2000s.

Like many early small towns in Oregon, by 1904, according to an article in a Salem publication, Sisters was able to support “two good stores, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, a saloon, a real estate office, a livery barn, and a splendid school house costing $1,800, and a short distance from town a fine lumber mill. The largest store in town, owned by Smith and Wilt, carried $5,000 in stock: groceries, hardware, harnesses, stationery, and drugs.”  A stage arrived from Prineville every afternoon. The town had a jail but the story goes that it never held a prisoner.

Leithauser will pick up the story there, painting word pictures of the buildings, businesses, and people of earlier Sisters.