Against all odds, a small group of families emerged to form the foundation of a Black community.

Black families arrived in Eugene to find a racial climate intended to exclude them and to discourage them from wanting to live here.

Leo and Pearlie Mae Washington (top) came to Eugene in 1937. CB and Annie Mims (bottom) moved to the Ferry Street Settlement in 1947.

Image credit: The Register Guard

“My father had experience as a millwright … but when he got here, he couldn’t even get a job on the green chain. So he worked as, and died as, a janitor.”

-Willie C. Mims, KLCC Interview, 2016

The Ferry Street Settlement

A small number of families settled north of the Willamette River near where Alton Baker Park is today. The segregated community had no running water and no electricity. The land flooded seasonally, which forced families to evacuate and rebuild. Despite the challenges, they formed a close-knit community.

Founding members of the Ferry Street Chapel, 1948. It later became St. Mark Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in West Eugene.

Left to right, back row: Ms. Bertha Frenchwell, Ms. Mary Williams, unknown, and Ms. Mattie Reynolds
Left to right, front row: Ms. Annie Mims, Ms. Bonnie Rucker, unknown, and Ms. Pearlie Mae Joiner

Image courtesy of Greg Black

Only one white family reportedly lived in the Ferry Street Settlement in 1949. The pump supplied water from the Willamette River.

Image courtesy of Greg Black