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The R.A. Long Elevator Caper

 

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R. A Long traveled from Kansas City to Longview several times a year to inspect company operations and visit with Mark Morris and other general managers. He usually traveled from Kansas City by private railroad coach. Upon arriving in Longview, he would climb the east stairs of the Merk to the 3rd floor offices he and Mark Morris occupied.

At 77 years of age, the climb was getting tiring, and his Victorian traditions prevented him from using the Merk's freight elevator. On June 9, 1927, R. A Long wired this message to Mark Morris:

"As you know I have been thinking seriously of having a push button elevator erected in connection with our office building thereby avoiding my climbing the long stairway. Inasmuch as the operation of such an elevator involves considerable power cost if it is used to any great extent. I find myself wondering how it could be arranged so that the general public could not use it. Will you please make the necessary investigation on this point, advising me the result of your findings."

Then on June 11th, Long wired this authorization to Morris.

"I am sure we can make some satisfactory arrangement about avoiding the general public using the elevator so you may proceed to have it erected and I am expecting the same will be ready for my use on my arrival there about July fifteenth."

The total cost of this private, two passenger, Otis elevator would be $3,500.00. The bill was sent to Kansas City for payment. On July 29, 1927, the bill was returned to Mark Morris with a letter from F. B. Littleton, Assistant Treasurer, Long-Bell Lumber Company, Kansas City suggesting that payment be made by the Company, not R. A Long.

"With regard to job #240, private elevator in Long-Bell Building (Merk), the cost should be charged to the Company instead of Mr. Long's account. Our files show that this work was authorized but it does not show clearly that Mr. Long was to stand the expense."

The private elevator was eventually removed during the Bon Marche remodeling, but one entrance door to the shaft still exists in Suit 211 with equipment brackets/hardware located in the Merk basement. The top floor of the shaft was located in the Northeast corner of suite 301 and had its own exterior window with a view of Commerce Avenue.

The Merk

1339 Commerce Avenue
Longview, WA   98632

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