A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

History revived: A cow’s head on Second Ave.

Written February 2nd, 2021 by Hasso Hering

That’s a fine-looking head of cattle, and one of these days it will overlook Second Avenue in downtown Albany the way its predecessor did a century ago.

Made at the Albany Carousel, where they have long experience carving animals both realistic and fantastical, the cow’s head was delivered to Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant on Monday.

It will be on display inside the entrance for a while. But once the Covid restrictions are lifted and restaurants can once again operate normally, there will be some kind of celebration to mark the mounting of the head outside, over the door.

This will complete the historical restoration of the front of what’s known as the H. Broders Building, which was extensively rebuilt outside and remodeled inside about five years ago to house the restaurant.

When the building at 208 Second Ave. S.W. was the H. Broders Meat Market late in the 19th century, a cow’s head over the front presumably symbolized the merchandise within. In the 1940s the building housed the Snow Peak Dairy, and the head, still there, was apropos as well.

In this 19th century image from the Potts Photo Collection at the Albany Regional Museum, you can see the cow’s head on the front of the H. Broders Meat Market.

So when architect Bill Ryals led the building restoration, which was aided by grants from CARA and the state, getting a cow’s head up there was part of the plan. It took a few years to make it happen, but now the head is ready, and eventually it will be hung where the original was.

It’s made of pencil cedar, and the horns are limbs of apple wood, Ryals told me. To produce the details of the horns and head without paint or stain, the wood was flame-torched. The contrasting colors of the muzzle are in the wood itself. Several coats of spar varnish finished the job. (hh)

11 responses to “History revived: A cow’s head on Second Ave.”

  1. CHEZZ says:

    Great history! It would be great if Novak’s and Margin Coffee as well as the hotel on the corner had copies of this photo for a historical reference for visitors/diners.

    • Jeff Senders says:

      I did exactly that. For 35 years that very photo hung on the wall of Custom Stained Glass, along with several other historic photos from both the Bob Potts and Bruce Senders collection. Mr. Ryals used my same wall photograph for his initial architecture work on Novak’s. I offered the photos to Margin but was informed it didn’t fit into their design concept. Hundreds of out-of-towners over the years came in just to view the photos as opposed to making a purchase, so it did cost me a little time and money. (I still have all the historic photos if anyone is interested).

  2. Peggy Burris says:

    The carving is beautiful and we are very proud of our two carvers who did this project. Jack Giles, Head Carver, and Pete Slenning, one of our other lead carvers, carved the cow’s head. It is quite stunning. Check out the FB Live we did with the Novaks, Jack and Pete and also Bill.


    The Carousel continues to carve and paint during our shutdown, but are slowly opening up with Private Carousel Session with the max of 6 guests.

    Thanks Hasso for the story!!

  3. Richard Vannice says:

    Don’t want to be nit picky however there is no way we can know if that is a cow, bull or steer. Second, “Head of Cattle” normally refers to the number of those creatures in a group. A more accurate description would be “replica of a bovine”.
    The carver, or carvers, who produced this piece of art are to be commended for the accuracy of their work. It truly looks like the skull often pictured in western scenes of the desert.

  4. Patricia Eich says:

    Thanks for the history and the photo That carving is beautful and intersting how it was done.

  5. Kim Sass says:

    You fooled me. I thought you would be writing about John Boock’s building on Water Avenue with a cow visible from the walking path. So, Novak’s will sport a second cow on display in our downtown. Snow Peak Dairy made quite an impression on our citizens!

  6. James Engel says:

    Hey, great. A pigeon roost for sure!

  7. Jennifer Munro says:

    That is very cool!


    That is a great way to bring the past into the present.
    At one time there was a large turkey replica between 1st Ave. and the bridge, to celebrate Albany’s commercial production of turkeys (maybe related to the Mikkelson’s store).
    Perhaps it should come back to celebrate the return of the wild turkeys that come off of the east side of the Calapooia River

  9. Sueebee says:

    Jack Giles is a master of wood carvers of Oregon!

    He’s so talented, and a wonderful community addition to us all!

    Awesome work… excited to see it!

  10. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    A “fine looking head” or a symbol of white supremacy and extreme violence?


    And I haven’t even mentioned that about a billion Hindus in India are probably offended by this article.

    Where is your sensitivity?


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