Adair Village set to make history with Saturday event

Drew Foster points out the two remaining barracks on the Santiam Christian School property, once a military training ground during World War II. Adair Village will celebrate teh area's history Saturday. (Gazette-Times file)

Adair Village will showcase its connections to World War II this weekend with the first Adair History Day.

Scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the music room at Santiam Christian School, 7220 N.E. Arnold Ave., the free event is sponsored by Adair Living History and will feature a keynote address by historian John Baker, the author of “Camp Adair.”

Baker also will take part in a panel discussion titled “Researching and Writing History.”

Joining him will be Judy Juntunen, former research librarian for the Benton County Historical Museum, and a pair of graduate students, Mike DiCianna of Portland State University and Mike Jager of Oregon State University.

All of the participants have been involved in studying the history of Camp Adair, the Army facility that trained more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers for combat in World War II.

Saturday’s event also includes a question-and-answer session, a film clip from Camp Adair’s 1943 dedication and video from a recent reunion of the Timberwolves, one of four infantry divisions that trained at the camp six miles north of Corvallis.

“This is going to be Adair Living History’s signature event,” said Barbara Melton, the nonprofit’s president. “Next year we’re hoping to focus on the theme of the homefront.”

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The organization hopes to expand the event to include activities, such as World War II-themed dinners and dances, walking tours of the old cantonment and historical re-enactments, as well as conferences aimed at serious researchers.

“There are very avid historians in this area, so we want to be sure that we include real history in all this, not just fun and games,” Melton said.

With as many as 40,000 residents at a time, Camp Adair was briefly Oregon’s second-largest city before being dismantled at war’s end. The site also served as a POW camp, a Navy hospital and an Air Force station before evolving into the town of Adair Village.

In an effort to commemorate the community’s military roots, the city relocated two Camp Adair barracks to a downtown site with the idea of turning one into a museum and the other into a community hall.

The buildings’ exteriors have been restored, but Adair Living History estimates another $800,000 in grants and donations is needed to complete the project, which will also include a public plaza and resources for historical research.

Although there is no charge to attend Saturday’s event, it is also a fundraiser and donations will be accepted.

Contact reporter Bennett Hall at bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9529.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald