Baldwin House in Klamath Falls

Maud Baldwin

‘You will find me in the lake’   By By BILL MILLER  for the Mail Tribune

February 13, 2011

They found her exactly where she said she would be, floating face down under the Link River Bridge.

Never married, 47 years old and daughter of an Oregon state senator, Maud Evangeline Baldwin had finally given up.

Born in summer 1878, “Vinnie,” as her family called her, was her father’s princess, the only girl in a family of five. He lavished his attention on her and made sure she had everything she needed or desired.

Wallace Baldwin, her uncle, was said to be the first non-Indian to settle in Klamath County, arriving in 1852.

Four years later, Wallace moved to Jackson County, settling with his sister Harriet on a homestead near Talent.

His letters home to Missouri made Southern Oregon seem so exciting they enticed his younger half-brother, George, Maud’s father, to come west in 1872.

Only 16 years old, George took a room in Ashland and began studying tinsmithing at the Academy, the forerunner of today’s Southern Oregon University.

He married, moved to Klamath Falls, opened a tin shop and began his climb to success by building up one of the largest retail hardware businesses in Southern Oregon.

In 1906, he built the city’s first four-story brick building, selling hardware on the lower floors and renting out rooms on the uppers.

Three years later, he moved the hardware store out, made some changes, and reopened the building as the Baldwin Hotel, the first hotel in town with running water and electricity.

The hotel and her father’s political career marked the beginning of Maud Baldwin’s downward spiral.

George Baldwin’s political success mirrored his business career. He moved from city councilor to county treasurer and county judge, and ultimately served two terms as a state senator.

Maud was expected to be there for her father, appearing at all social and political functions and helping however she could with her father’s career. It was a duty she didn’t enjoy.

There were exceptions. Maud attended Oregon State Normal School in Monmouth, beginning in 1894, and in 1905 studied at the California College of Photography in Palo Alto, Calif.

She had taken up photography as an amateur in 1898 and over the next 15 years opened a succession of studios, eventually becoming a successful professional.

Family pressures began to intrude even more in her life and, by 1915, Maud was trapped in the needs of her father’s career and stuck managing day-to-day operations at the hotel.

Tragedy piled on tragedy. The hardware store went bankrupt. She fell in love with one of the cooks in the hotel’s kitchen, but her father refused to let her marry. And then came 1920.

George Baldwin’s wife suffered a stroke that left her an invalid, needing Maud’s constant care. No sooner had Maud begun that tedious chore than her father died and she was left to run the hotel all alone.

The pressures grew to be too much. In May 1926, she gave up.

“I am going insane and cannot stand it,” she wrote. “You will find me in the lake.”

She walked a few hundred feet from the hotel into Lake Euwana and kept her promise.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

Klamath Crisis Center (from Simple Solutions website)

When Marta Carpenter learned that Klamath Falls was one of only five Oregon counties that did not have a shelter for abused women (and yet it ranked third highest in the number of reported domestic violence crimes) she decided to do something about it by donating a home. At the time, Marta owned the historic Baldwin house, which was built in 1900 on the banks of the Link River in downtown Klamath Falls. When she had purchased the 8,000 square-foot mansion, it was painted six different colors, was completely boarded up, and had a leaky roof. After she bought it, she replaced all the windows with energy-efficient frames and glass, installed a new roof, and completely re-sided the house. Although this exterior work was completed, the house required interior renovations estimated at $1 million to complete.

To fund the interior work, the dedicated staff of the Klamath Crisis Center turned to the community for help. The City of Klamath Falls received a $600,000 grant for the renovation project from Regional Strategies Economic Development, and local groups initiated a fund-raising campaign. Simplexity Health Business Associates themselves donated $55,000 in 1998. When the work was finished, the four-story home, which was first renamed the Harbor House, included fifteen domicile rooms, several areas for individual and group counseling, a community room, and a huge kitchen. The original terraced gardens were also rejuvenated and are now irrigated with Klamath Lake algae water for fruits and vegetables accessible to all residents.

As part of our Simple Solutions outreach program, we provide monthly financial support to the Klamath Crisis Center.


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