The M&N Building
The M&N Building in Astoria was built in 1924 and is a stunning example of early 1920’s architecture. It took city intervention and the passage of a derelict building ordinance to get the owner of the building to sell, after allowing it to sit vacant and moldering for decades. It fell into this state of decay under the control of Astoria’s prominent Flavel family. Recently, an intrepid husband-and-wife team has purchased the property and are ready to tackle the daunting list of deficiencies to return this derelict stretch of Main Street to a state of vibrancy and charm.
News and Updates:
Listed as one of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places
Mary Christina Boelling Flavel, for whom the M&N building was built, was the wife of Captain George Flavel, a prominent Astoria business man and real estate investor. He was one of the founders of the First National Bank of Astoria and was the first certified Columbia River bar pilot. He eventually crushed all competition, dominating the bar pilot industry and accumulating enough wealth to build a retirement home in 1886 where he spent the last seven years of his life with his wife, Mary, and their two daughters, Katie and Nellie (for whom the M&N building is named). The Flavels were a wealthy family in the time of the Great Depression and the town is steeped in their legacy – both in their early successes and the mystery which surrounds the final generation of Astoria Flavels.
It was under the control of this mysterious, reclusive, misanthropic and misunderstood final generation of Astoria Flavels that the M & N building fell into a state of decay. Abandoned but far from forgotten, the M & N building has been the subject of constant attention from the community. Over twenty articles have been written in The Daily Astorian about the building in the past few years which illustrates both our fascination with the family and the importance of the building’s fate to the surrounding community.
The importance of the M & N building is both historic and economic. The community has long awaited its resurrection as a potential axis of commercial development in a section of downtown which, over the years, seemed to decay alongside the five empty storefronts. Historic photos from the time the building was erected – shortly after the epic Astoria fire of 1922 – show the bustling streets of a town once hoped to be the new “Manhattan of the west coast”.
Why it’s Endangered
The entire 8000 square feet of the M & N Building has been sitting vacant for many years, suffering from long-term neglect. Black mold and green mildew crawl up the exterior of the building where huge cracks in the cement siding and brick facade indicate a sinking foundation. Water seeps through rotting storefront windows, soaking interior walls. The basement is filled with the detritus of years of occupancy by both human vagrants and non-human vermin. And among all of this, additional signs and symptoms of years of abandonment may lie dormant, soon to be discovered.