A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

At the St. Francis, demolition inside

Written February 18th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

The Ferry Street side of the St. Francis building on Sunday afternoon.

Every now and then, passersby get an indication that the work of saving and restoring the former St. Francis Hotel in Albany is going on inside.

This past week, the outward sign of that was the construction of a wooden cover over a section of the Ferry Street sidewalk on the east side of this downtown landmark.

The covering is a solid structure, temporary but built to last, intended to allow use of the sidewalk while debris from the demolition of the interior of the upper floors is thrown down a chute.

Scott Lepman owns the property through one of his companies, Sable Drive LLC, which bought the four-story building at the corner of Ferry Street and First Avenue in March 2022.

He is converting the former hotel spaces on the upper floors to residences. The plan is to have commercial space on the street level.

“We have demo’ed the second and third floors and are now working on the fourth floor,” Lepman told me via email last week.
The demolition work is being done so the crew can see what needs to be done about plumbing and wiring and how best to restore the space as apartments.
I had asked Lepman about what I assumed was some kind of scaffolding to work on the exterior of the Ferry Street side.
“The scaffolding you see is a sidewalk cover that allows use of the sidewalk while using chutes to get debris out of the building,” he explained. I should have thought of that.
The building now is about 109 years old. Part of it was used as a hotel until the 1960s. In recent decades it housed the Pride Printing Co., which used the upper floors for storage or left them empty.
For many years Albany city officials tried to find someone to buy the building and take on the job of trying to save it. Now that Lepman has taken on the challenge, there’s great public interest in seeing that it succeeds.
Expect to see periodic updates on the restoration as the work goes on. (hh)


The temporary pedestrian underpass even has light fixtures. (There are five of them.)

5 responses to “At the St. Francis, demolition inside”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Does the plan still include a rooftop penthouse (ex: exercise room, lounge/dining area)?

    Nothing says ’boutique’ or ‘gentrification’ like a cool rooftop penthouse that local property taxpayers helped pay for.

    • Cap B. says:

      Thanks, Gordon, and thank you,Jimmy, for the Burggraf history. Hasso, you are wrong…the Albany City Council hasn’t valiantly and nobly been looking for a buyer for the St. Francis Hotel. They had a developer who wanted to redo the St. Francis Hotel into mostly modest apartments. This was after CARA was formed…so sometime in early 2000s. The Council said, “No.” They wanted a “boutique hotel” for the rich elite.(Gordon is 100% right). So, Lepman (Albany Council’s own personal contractor) finally got the nod, and his rescuing of the St. Francis will no doubt be very “boutique-ish.”

      You won’t find working class people “having tea” at the St. Francis when it is open for business. That’s my bet.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Charles H. Burggraf was born in Centralia, Illinois, in 1866. He was one of four children; he had a sister, Lizzie, and two brothers, Frank and Will. The Burggraf family moved to Nebraska in 1884, and Charles attended Hastings College where he studied surveying, engineering, drawing, and architecture. His German-born father, J.G. Burggraf, was an architect, and owned his own firm, where Charles worked from 1888-1889, after he graduated. In 1889, Charles married Mattie Adams, a “highly educated and cultivated lady” originally from Iowa. [1]

    In 1890, Charles decided to move with his wife to Grand Junction, Colorado, where he specialized in designing public schools, banks, and churches. [2] Within a short time he decided that Colorado was not the place for him, and, in 1891, moved to Salem, Oregon. At this time his father also moved to Salem from Nebraska. Burggraf’s office was in Salem until 1899, at which point he decided to move to Albany, Oregon. He settled in comfortably, and joined the local Elks chapter there; he eventually designed their new lodge. [4]

    Burggraf proved to be a prolific architect. In Corvallis, he designed Education Hall (1902) and of course, Waldo Hall (1907); in Springfield, School District #19 Building (1921). Albany was his chief worksite, clearly illustrated by the list of almost 20 buildings he designed there: McAlphins Confectionery (1919), Flynn Block (1887), Central School (1915), the house of Alfred Dawson (1908), the St. Francis Hotel (1912), the Elk’s Temple (burned down in 1973), the Rialto Theater Building (1898), Albany State Bank Building (1908), Wallace Building (1915), Masonic Hall Building (dramatically remodeled by Burggraf in 1915), S.E. Young Clothing Store (1912), First Savings Bank (1909), the Albany Hotel (1910, torn down in the late 20th century), the Burggraf Building (1910, also torn down in the late 20th century), and Albany High School (1909). [2] [3]

    Source: Kerr Library, OSU

  3. hpeg13 says:

    Hey Hasso, last week you shown a sign that says Spring Hill off the bridge, but you’re incorrect. Go further down the actual road and you will see signs on the street signs that say Springhill. It has been this way over 50 years. All your sign did was show us people in government positions ie ODOT and in Albany messed up and approved the sign you posted.


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