If a platted addition to Pendleton had survived past the 1880s, the west end of the city would look totally different today.
A new subdivision named Sommerville was laid out on February 6, 1882, in the area bounded (roughly) by the Umatilla River on the north, the railroad tracks on the south, Southwest 10th street on the east and Southwest 18th Street on the west — land that now contains Roy Raley Park, the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds and the Pendleton Convention Center, and businesses including Mazatlan, Mac’s Bar & Grill, G&R Truck & Auto Repair and the Albertsons property. According to the plat recorded at the Umatilla County Courthouse on Feb. 9, 1882, “Said town is situated in the SE 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Sec 10 T2 NR32E of Umatilla County Oregon.”
The community was the brainchild of Stephen Lovejoy Morse, a prominent Umatilla County man in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the brother of Aura (Goodwin) Raley. The plat was located near Morse’s original homestead claim, and was named after a close personal friend and prominent Pendleton doctor, E.J. Sommerville. It was intended as an addition to Pendleton, and not a separate town, according to Col. J.H. Raley, the county surveyor who laid out the streets and blocks. Sommerville’s Main Street ran roughly east and west, and the streets in the town ran north and south and were named Birch, Taylor, Morgan, Colwell, Coffey, Libe, Ellsworth and Arnold.
Stephen Morse, a U.S. deputy marshal for 14 years, brought his family to Pendleton in 1864 and staked out his homestead claim on the north side of the Umatilla River, across the river from the Goodwin homestead. Among other exploits, he was involved in “moving” the county records from Umatilla to Pendleton in January 1869, a clandestine affair performed under the cover of darkness just after Pendleton was named the new county seat. The Morse family relocated to Pilot Rock in 1894, where he owned a livery stable and was elected mayor in 1902. He died in May 1908 at his Pilot Rock home.
Morse’s plat was vacated Jan. 7, 1884, just two years after it was laid out, and was absorbed into the city of Pendleton. The former burg was discovered in April 1916 when the Blewett Harvester Company bought property across from Round-Up Park (where the former Albertsons building now stands) to build a manufacturing plant.