Thursday, March 23, 2023

Where's Waldo?


If you tell Portlanders that one of downtown’s best examples of architectural preservation is the Waldo Block, the response likely will be, “The WHAT block?”

A recent paint job that does a better job of accentuating the details of a building erected in 1886 makes the slender structure at SW 2nd Ave and Washington St. look its best since, well, maybe 1886. 

For 30 years it was best known as the home of the Elephant & Castle restaurant, but that run ended in 2003.   The Waldo Block was erected in 1886, near the end of Portland’s adventure with cast iron construction with Italianate detailing.  It featured retail on the ground floor and two stories of housing above.

The building was erected by, and named for, John Waldo, an early Portland lawyer who served one term on the Oregon Supreme Court from 1880 to 1886.  The original architect is not known, but the building includes interesting recessed balconies on the third floor of the SW 2nd Avenue façade.

Sometime in the 1890s, the building became a key element of Portland’s original Chinatown, providing both housing, social events and gambling for Chinese community.  Chinese owners possessed the building from 1943 until 1980, when a subsequent owner found opium scales and gambling equipment and furniture.

 As the building changed hands over the years, its 19th Century cornice and some other details were shorn off, no doubt by owners hoping to reduce maintenance costs.  By 1980, as a historic photograph shows, it seemed that its future likely was to include a wrecking ball.  Portland’s Chinatown had moved north of Burnside and the downtown business district had moved a few blocks to the west.

An excellent restoration in the mid-1980s, however, replaced the cornice and returned the Waldo Block to its former glory.  The housing was converted to offices with the restaurant as the primary ground-floor tenant.

Perhaps one reason the building isn’t better known is its unfortunate location at the westbound off-ramp from the Morrison Bridge.  A parking lot lies across directly across Washington Street.  Coupled with the rush of traffic off the bridge, the wider Washington street exposure is not an especially pleasant pedestrian experience.

 Regardless, the Waldo Block is an excellent piece of downtown Portland’s cast iron architectural history.  Take a look the next time you whiz past.

------Fred Leeson

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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Good News in Northwest Portland


(Hartshorne-Plunkard Architecture)

One year ago, demolition of a notable landmark church in Northwest Portland loomed as a possibility as its owners looked desperately for a buyer.

One year later, the former First Church of Christ, Scientist now looms as one of Portland’s most notable preservation successes.  Under plans approved by the Portland Historical Landmarks Commission, the 1909 beaux-arts structure at 1819 NW Everett should be painstakingly restored and paired with a new five-story hotel behind it. 

 Though the two buildings will not physically touch, the three-story historic church will become an accessory of the hotel, containing a lounge, coffee shop, event space and spa for the 80-room hotel to be built on a quarter-block parking lot at the rear of the church.

 Finding adaptable uses for old landmarks that have outlived their original purposes is one of the toughest challenges in the preservation world.  That process is even tougher when the landmark is a church that once held up to 1100 parishioners for Sunday services.

Preservation of the church building will include earthquake bracing, repair or replacement of deteriorated stonework, a new roof and full renovation of large, leaded windows of opalescent glass that dominate three public facades of the building.

(Hartshorne-Plunkard Architecture)

The hotel, with its front door at the corner of NW 19th and Flanders St., will be finished in stucco with gentle does of historic European architectural details.  Chicago architect Andrew Becker said the hotel’s design was intended to be sympathetic to the era of the church without trying to be flashier than the historic building.  The final design was a toned-down version from plans submitted a few months ago for an advisory hearing.

 Both buildings will be outfitted with roof-top terraces that will give visitors outstanding views of downtown Portland.

Landmarks commission members lauded detailed plans for fixing the run-down church while finding a successful new life for it.  “I’m so thrilled this building has a future,” said Commissioner Peggy Moretti.  Adding a religious flourish, she added, “Hallelujah!”  Commissioner Matthew Roman suggested that seismic additions at the church could become a model for retrofitting many of Portland’s old, unreinforced masonry buildings.

The First Church of Christ Science left the building more than 50 years ago as its membership declined.  The building served subsequently as a community center, a home for several nom-profit agencies and later as a theatrical school for children.

Sale of the building and its parking lot to a Las Vegas development company has been held in abeyance until the development plans were approved.  After the commission’s unanimous approval, Becker, the architect, said, “We are anxious to move as quickly as we can.”

-----Fred Leeson

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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Jantzen Carousel: The Clock is Ticking

(Restore Oregon)

 Dozens of brightly-painted wooden horses that once comprised the Jantzen Beach carousel are starting now to look like --- white elephants.

 Restore Oregon, a statewide preservation advocacy group, took possession of the dismantled carousel in 2017 hoping to restore its parts and find a new location for it within five years.

 Three years ago, Restore Oregon reached an agreement with the Portland Diamond Project to include the carousel as part of development of a major league baseball stadium.  That agreement has come to an end – and hopes for landing a major league team have yet to reach first base.

 We want it up and running again,” said Stephanie Brown, the carousel project manager.  “Everyone who loves it wants it up and running again (and that includes the nice folks at PDP.) But full restoration is going to take a few years because we have dozens of horses still in need of repair. The sooner full restoration can begin, the sooner people can enjoy the carousel again.”

 But there is no guarantee that a new home will be found in Portland.  Restore Oregon has talked extensively with public agencies and private developers – and found no serious interest.  Putting it up for sale likely would attract interest and a sale to some other city.

  The 20-ton relic from the early 20th Century entertained family and children from 1928 to 1970 at the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park and then at the Jantzen Beach Mall until 2012.  Plans to return the carnival ride to a revised shopping mall were never carried out.

 After five quiet years in storage, the carousel’s owner donated the deconstructed pieces in 2017 to Restore Oregon.  The September date would mark the end of the sixth year in Restore Oregon’s custody.

 A major challenge to finding a new location is that the carousel, measuring 67 feet in diameter and 29 feet tall, needs to sit in an enclosed building of roughly 10,000 square feet. 

 The carousel, a "Superior Park” model built by the C.W. Parker company, is five years away from its centennial anniversary.  Brown said finding a permanent location is the key to raising enough money to complete its restoration. 

 Newly-built carousels in cities such as Missoula, Montana and Salem have proven popular for adding family-friendly activity within the city.  Somewhere, someday, the same will be said of the historic Jantzen Beach carousel.  But where? 

-----Fred Leeson

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Good News at Duniway Elementary School

(IBI Group)

 Like many other jurisdictions, Portland Public Schools long held a bad reputation for abusing original architectural details when periodically “modernizing” its older buildings.  Fortunately, that’s not the case with repairs in store for Duniway Elementary School in the Eastmoreland neighborhood.

 The school’s status as a local Portland landmark meant repairs to the roof and a series of exterior architectural details had win approval from the Portland Historical Landmarks Commission. The volunteer panel takes a close look at proposed change, with an eye towards retaining the original look and materials of historic structures.

 PPS took the project seriously, hiring people with genuine preservation experience to examine the school’s renovation needs while staying faithful the schools 1926 “collegiate gothic” design by George H. Jones, the school district’s in-house architect at the time.

 Duniway’s construction occurred at the midpoint of Jones’ 14-year career at the district.  His busy tenure included design of 25 Portland schools, including Irvington, Vernon, Portsmouth, Ockley Green, King and a 1200 seat auditorium at Roosevelt High School.

 Duniway ranks as one of Portland’s most attractive schools of the era, and makes a welcome contribution to the Eastmoreland National Historic District.  Retaining its historic feel is a plus for the neighborhood and for people travelling along Southeast Reed College Place.

 The renovations will include replacing the multi-colored tile roof and replacing parts of the decorative balustrades of cast stone that have suffered from nearly a century of wet weather.  Identical pieces of the balustrades will be replaced as necessary by new ones made of glass fiber reinforced concrete, a product that is expected to endure Portland’s climate. 

The colorful sketch below shows the extent of work to be done on the school’s primary west façade.  The landmarks commission approved the plans by a 4-0 vote, after complimenting the design team for its work. Key players in the planning included Matthew Braun of the IBI Group and Matthew Davis of Architectural Resources Group.  


(IBI Group)

While talking in historical terms, we must not forget Abigail Scott Duniway, for whom the school was named.  An early proponent of voting rights for women, Duniway fought valiantly at the Oregon Legislature from 1872 until 1912, when voters made Oregon the seventh state to approve women’s rights to vote.  One of her primary opponents during that long fight was her own brother, Harvey W. Scott, editor of the Oregonian newspaper, who editorialized stridently against her.

Duniway was honored by becoming the first woman in Multnomah County to register to vote.  She died in 1915, five years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended voting rights nationwide, regardless of sex.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Renaissance at the Harlow Block


From high hopes to hard times and back again, few of Portland’s historic buildings have seen the economic swings and racial animosity wrapped within the three-story brick building at 722 NW Glisan St.  The newly-restored Harlow Hotel is named for John Harlow, an early steamboat captain who built it in 1882.

Harlow, an early entrepreneur who also laid out and named the City of Troutdale, originally called his building the Grand Hotel, assuming it would draw customers from the proposed big new railway depot just few blocks away.

Alas, changes in plans meant the depot wouldn’t open for another 14 years.  That was the first of many bumps in the road for the hotel that originally was heated by wood stoves and lacked electricity.  Electricity didn’t arrive until after World War I.

 In the 1930s, the hotel and ground-floor storefronts were managed by Japanese proprietors, but all lost their businesses when Portland’s Japanese residents were sent to internment camps at the start of World War II.  Post war, the building was inhabited by low-income monthly tenants rather than tourists.  The upper two floors were closed to tenants in 1972.


The building remained largely vacant for decades. Though its condition deteriorated, many of its internal details including door and window casings remained.  The building was purchased in 2008 by Ganesh Sonpatki, who operates moderately-priced hotels under the Portland Value Inns brand.

 It seemed like the building’s bad luck continued, as restoration was slowed first by the 2008 recession.  Because the Harlow Hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, design changes took longer than expected to be planned, approved and then accomplished.  The addition of an elevator  was a complicating technical factor.

 The upper two hotel floors were finished and ready for opening in 2019 – just as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.  The street also has suffered from homeless people living in sidewalk tents. As a result, building’s reemergence as a viable hotel drew little attention.

 The ground floor originally contained five storefronts, with the hotel entry up a central stairway.  Now, with the exception of a coffeeshop, the ground floor spaces are devoted to lobbies and an exercise room.

Images of the attractive, renovated interior can be seen here:

 The Harlow Hotel is believed to be the second oldest brick structure in the neighborhood.  The restored  Merchant Hotel at NW 2nd and Davis St. is two years older, dating to 1880.


Cast iron column, here painted black, were a frequent element in 1880s architecture 

The Harlow Hotel originally had an arched entry leading to the second floor hotel.  The arch was lost during a renovation in the 1940s when it was covered with stucco.  It now has been recreated.  The gently arched windows reflect also an Italianate design popular late in the 19th Century.  The original architect is not known.

 For all the bumps it has survived in the past, the Harlow Hotel could be headed to better days amid new, fancier surroundings.  The former U.S. Main Post office one block north of Glisan Street is being torn down and its large, soon to be vacant site is expected to sprout a combination of high-rise buildings in the future.

 Given the difficulty of its history and challenges in its restoration, the Harlow seemingly has earned a better life.  

 ----Fred Leeson

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Reimagining O'Bryant Square


For the past five years, chain-link fencing has sealed off O’Bryant Square, a small downtown block that used urban renewal money in 1973 to develop a park atop an underground parking garage.

In a small way, it was the kind of project that gave urban renewal a bad name.  The public restrooms attracted graffiti, drug use and sexual activity.  The big decorative water fountain seeped water into the parking garage.  It acquired nicknames of Needle Park and Paranoia Park.

Oddly, its best use occurred earlier this decade when it provided imnpromptu seating for food carts located on a nearby vacant block.  The square provided the sort of  pleasant activity that urban renewal planners never considered, since food carts didn't exist in their day.  But now the food carts are gone and that block is sprouting a luxury tower. Given all the park's problems, the city simply fenced it off. in 2018.

Now the chain-link fencing is scheduled to come down so the small block can be completely levelled.  The non-profit Portland Parks Foundation has announced plans for a public “visioning” process to determine how the park should be redeveloped.

What the park will look like, what it will be used for, when it will be rebuilt and for how it will cost are questions that have no answers as yet.

The planning will begin with some bottom-up thinking, rather than from the top down.  Randy Gragg, the park foundations executive director, said the goal is “to bring national and local thinkers together with the community to re-envision the park’s future.”

After meetings in February and March, the foundation hopes to envision a first-phase design and to “learn what activities work, and don’t, to shape the future permanent design” when funding becomes available.

 Citizens interested in learning about the process and how to participate can find information at

The planning process is similar to one used by the Parks Bureau in the early 2000s when it devised plans for Director Park.  Though the park’s activity has been stymied by the pandemic in recent years, its fundamental design was a success.

 The challenge at O’Bryant Square (named for Portland’s first mayor) is deciding who is most likely to use it and for what purposes.  Located at SW Park Ave. and Washington St., it is not adjacent to the downtown retail core nor close to most high-rise offices.  More than likely it needs some sort of pleasant attraction – perhaps a better fountain – and adequate seating, some with rain protection.  Perhaps a common "theme" can be developed that would help attract visitors.

 And it probably will need restrooms – another difficult design challenge.

 While Building on History always favors retaining the best of vintage architecture and public spaces, it is obvious that nothing in the current park is worthy of salvage.  We can only hope for a new and better outcome this time around..

 -----Fred Leeson

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Dr. John D. Marshall Building


Dr. John D. Marshall Building

In 1952, Dr. John D. Marshall, one of Portland’s few Black doctors, erected a modest, one-story, flat-roofed building in the heart of Albina.  Given that Blacks could not be treated at the time at nearby Emanuel Hospital, Dr. Marshall’s clinic quickly became a busy medical hub for Albina’s heavily Black community.

 Dr. Marshall practiced at the N. Williams building until 1970.  During that time, he also leased space to o a Black-owned pharmacy and dental clinic.   Then, from 1970 to 1979, the Dr. John D. Marshall Building housed to medical facilities run by the supposedly “radical” Black Panther Party, the Fred Hampton Free Health Clinic and the Malcolm X Peoples’ Dental Clinic.

While the Black Panthers operated medical clinics in several other cities, Portland was the Panther’s only dental clinic, according to research in a National Register of Historic Places nomination.  The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission has recommended the nomination for state and national consideration.

“It was the hub of Black medical care.  Nothing else like it existed,” said Caity Ewers, an architectural historian who helped write the National Register nomination.  The nomination is based on the building's significant involvement in Portland's ethnic heritage and Black healthcare and medicine. 

Besides its medical tenants, the building also housed from 1959 to 1969 the law office of Aaron Brown, a lawyer who was the first Black appointed to the Multnomah County bench in 1969.  Judge Brown had a lengthy judicial career that was well-recognized for his personable style in handling civil cases and misdemeanor crimes.

 The Dr. John D. Marshall Building is owned today by Bernie Foster, publisher of The Skanner newspaper.  Foster ran his newspaper from the building for 10 years, starting in 1980.  Even then, he said, “People would come in and say, ‘Is the doctor in’?”

 Ewers said one element of the building’s historical significance was Dr. Marshall’s ability to finance its construction in an era when racial discrimination was highly common among Portland’s lending institutions.  He was one of fewer than five Black physicians in Portland at the time.

 The National Register nomination reflects a trend in the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to place new emphasis on historic places involving Portland’s minority communities.  “Even though we have only one building today, we have others in the pipeline,” Brandon Spencer-Hartle, the city’s historic resources manager, told the Landmarks Commission.  The bureau’s efforts are supported by consulting and research by Kimberly Moreland, who also is a Landmarks Commission member.  She did not participate in the commission’s deliberations favoring the nomination.

 The Marshall Building continues its connection with the Black community today as the home of the Terry Family Funeral Home, a Black-owned firm.  The building has undergone a few significant changes over the years, but its basic shape and Roman bricks retain the building’s original character.

 The National Register nomination will be considered next month by the Oregon State Advisory Committee for Historic Preservation.   The final step after that would be consideration by the National Park Service, which administers the federal National Register program.

 -----Fred Leeson

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Good News on N. Interstate Avenue


The "new" Palms sign (Ankrom Moisan Architects)

There is good news on N. Interstate Avenue: The sign…will be fine.

 After being removed later this year, the 50-plus foot tall iconic neon sign that formerly attracted visitors to The Palms Motor Hotel will return in in 2025 with the same type fonts and same colors of neon and paint.  Only the words “Motor Hotel” will be changed to “Luxe Lofts.”

 The sign will be moved a few dozen feet farther south on the 3800 block to make it more visible to motorists and light rail transit riders using the busy Interstate Avenue corridor.  Instead of advertising a motel, it will be heralding a 155-unit, seven-story apartment building that will replace the motel.

 Dirgesh Patel, the motel owner who has lived on the block for 25 years, told the Overlook Neighborhood Association on Jan. 9 that the sign is beloved by his family (his parents bought the motel in 1998) and by countless others.  “People from all over the world came and loved that sign,” he said.

The sign is an excellent example of how a well-designed artifact can become a vital part of the urban fabric, even if its basic role isn't terribly important.

 Architects for the Portland firm of Ankrom Moisan realized the sign’s significance from the outset. “That’s a cool sign.  We could really work with that,” said Jason Roberts.

 When reinstalled, the sign will stand on a six-foot pedestal to protect pedestrians and to prevent harm to the neon.  It will sit near a 17- by- 35-foot courtyard recessed into the building’s façade.

As it looks today...

Neon enthusiasts were concerned when they first heard of plans to redevelop the motel site.  Kate Widdows, a designer and neon sign enthusiast, helped spur interest in The Palms situation, though in the end the sign evidently spoke for itself.

 “So far, you guys are totally on the right track,” she told the Ankrom Moisan team.  “We are thankful for that.”  She also added noted that a small element of the sign advertising “Free TV” will not be included as part of the sign’s restoration.  She suggested that it be saved as a stand-alone work of art.  “It’s beautiful.  It’s a part of history,” she said.  “It would be really cool in the lobby.”

People who would \like to comment on the sign's restoration play can send an email to

 Although the over-sized Palms sign would not be allowed under Portland’s current sign code, there is an exception for a few notable neon signs along Interstate Avenue.  The city’s current historic resources code could allow the sign to become a designated landmark, independent of the rest of the property.

Patel said he was not aware of historic designation possibilities, but that he was interested in learning about them.  He also said he planned to live in the new apartments when they are finished, supposedly by mid-2025.

 ---Fred Leeson

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Friday, January 6, 2023

A 'First' for Native American History


(National Register Nomination Form)

The next Portland residence to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places is unlike any other landmark in town.

It is not in an upscale neighborhood.

It is not grandiose.

It does not have an architectural pedigree.

It was not the home of a wealthy white person.

The modest 1930s shingle-sided house in the 10800 block of Northeast Fremont Street was the childhood home of jazz saxophonist Jim Pepper and the site of continuing inspiration while he was earning musical notoriety by blending Native American rhythm into jazz fusion. 

 The Pepper house is the first property in Portland to seek placement on the National Register because of its significance with Native American ethnic heritage and performing arts.

 Pepper’s parents, Floy and Gilbert Pepper, who came to Portland shortly before World War II, were descendants of Kaw and Muscogee Creek Native American tribes of Oklahoma.  Because of ethnic prejudices of the era, Floy and Gilbert Pepper experienced racism that affected their opportunities for employment, housing and credit in Portland. Jim Pepper was born in 1941, and after the outbreak of the war the family moved to Vanport, but lost everything in the 1948 flood.

 The family bought the home on Northeast Fremont in 1941, which at that time was outside the Portland city limits.  Jim attended Parkrose High School but transferred to Madison High School after becoming a target of bullying at Parkrose. He already was performing as a Native dancer and musician before his graduation from Madison in 1959.

Pepper played in several Portland jazz clubs with many of the city’s leading jazz artists in subsequent years.  After 1972, he lived in San Francisco and New York, and spent many years playing in Europe.  He said European audiences were more welcoming of evolving musical styles than in America, where  music was more dominated by the pop music industry. 

His influential album, “Pepper’s Pow Wow,” was recorded in New York, but Jim Pepper wrote many of the tunes on it with his father at their Portland residence, which he often visited.  The album contains perhaps his most famous song, “Wi Chi Tai To,’ which is heavily based on native rhythm of a Comanche peyote song, which Pepper said he remembered hearing at age 3.

Album's back cover

 The “Pepper’s Pow Wow” has been described by one scholar as “something of a musical ‘bible’ for Native artists."  Pepper’s performance of Wi Chi Tai To, a lengthy chant and song, can be seen here, as performed by Pepper in 1980:

 The National Register nomination includes a detailed history of Pepper’s musical career, written by Architectural Resources Group historians. Some of Pepper’s original musical notes and his saxophone have been donated to the Smithsonian Institution.  Pepper died of cancer in 1999.

As for the Pepper house on Fremont Street, “No other place is as closely or consistently associated with his development as a musician or with his productive period as an artist,” the nomination states.

The nomination will be reviewed by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission on Jan. 23.  If positive recommendations come from the landmarks commission and the the Oregon State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation, the nomination would head to the National Park Service for final review. 

 ----Fred Leeson

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Monday, December 26, 2022

Our 2022 Preservation Awards

 As a year filled with political and social turmoil grinds to a close, let’s take a few moments to recall some excellent achievements for preservation in Portland.  These people and projects deserve our thanks for their skill and perseverance in saving important architectural history. . 

The Elk Fountain Committee

 This ad-hoc group of preservation and political veterans conquered difficult odds in convincing the Portland City Council to restore the David P. Thompson elk statue and fountain in its historic location in the middle of SW Main Street.

 Mike Lindberg and Stephen Kafoury provided the political expertise while William J. Hawkins III, Aubrey Russell, Brooke Best and Henry Kunowski lent preservation knowledge.  Kit Abel Hawkins and Wendy Rahm provided document and agenda management.

 While the City Council decision appears to be firm, restoring the fountain remains a difficult and time-consuming matter.  No city bureau wants to take charge of it, and assessment of damage to the granite fountain and its water-retaining ability is on-going.  The landmark is unlikely to return within 2023, but there is every assurance that The Elk Fountain Committee will continue its vigilance.


Phoenix on Foster

 Matt Froman knew almost nothing about historic preservation when he took on restoration of the erstwhile Phoenix Pharmacy building on S.E. Foster Road two years ago. 

Froman partnered with preservation veterans Rick Michaelson and Karen Karlsson for strategic help, but acted himself as general contractor, laborer and leasing agent for the renovated structure.  Its primary tenant is now Foster Outdoor, a retailer of camping and outdoor goods.  The upper floor is a suite of attractive offices. 

This easily-recognized building was erected 100 years ago with a façade that curves gently along the  acute angle of its trapezoidal lot.  From its opening in 1922 until 1946 it was the home of the Phoenix Pharmacy, operated by the much-admired pharmacist, John Leach. 

But after sitting mostly vacant for 20 years, the building needed a new roof, seismic bracing, new electrical and mechanical systems, windows and store-front system.  Froman’s dedication to the neighborhood landmark is a grand example of the enthusiasm and diligence required for successful preservation projects.

Hollywood Theatre

 After being stalled for two years because of the pandemic, the non-profit Hollywood Theatre successfully completed restoration of the ground floor façade, bringing a historic unity to the wild and wacky Roaring 20s architectural design fronting on N.E. Sandy Boulevard.

Construction and opening of the theater in 1926 was sufficiently dramatic that the whole surrounding commercial neighborhood became known as the Hollywood District, a name it still bears today.  In its heyday, the theater was Northeast Portland’s challenge to Downtown Portland as a venue for live productions and movies.

 Sometime in the early 1960s, the ground-floor façade sadly was “modernized” and much of its terra cotta details were stripped away.  Building manager Virginia Durost and architect Paul Falsetto supervised and designed the restoration.  One piece that remains missing is the original freestanding polygonal box office, which could not be replaced because it would have blocked passage for some attendees with disabilities.

While the exterior of the theater is now in excellent shape, much interior work remains to be done.  It is a credit to the organization that it is devoting careful attention to the building’s needs to that it can remain a vital landmark into its second century.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Friday, December 16, 2022

Finally: Eastmoreland National Historic District


A six year fight that finally led to the acceptance of the Eastmoreland Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places is significant for two reasons.

 First, it likely will be the last such district proposed in Portland for many years to come.  Building a historical record that meets requirements managed by the federal Secretary of the Interior is a complex and expensive process.  The rules fall outside the scope of Portland’s own zoning rules, which have drawn the ire of local officials and some residents in the historic neighborhoods.

 Second, the process finally defeated fraudulent efforts by a handful of Eastmoreland residents that tried to create trusts with several thousand “members” who could vote against the designation.  Interestingly, no people were attached to these trusts; they simply were numbers on pages recorded at the county recorder’s office.  The rules later were amended so that only real parties who had the ability to sell a property could vote.  The later count was 70 percent to 30 percent in favor of the designation.

 Eastmoreland now joins Kings Hill, Ladd’s Addition, the Alphabet District, Irvington, and Laurelhurst as Portland residential neighborhoods qualifying for the national recognition.  For the preservation community, the primary benefit of these designations means that buildings identified as “contributing” elements cannot be torn down without a public hearing that weighs the reasons for and against demolition.  In essence, it prevents developers from picking off individual lots to tear down houses and build bigger, fancier ones. 

 The Eastmoreland district is composed of 475 acres containing more than 1,000 buildings that meet the era of being constructed between 1910 and 1961.  The district also includes the Eastmoreland Golf Course and the scenic Crystal Springs Garden.

The neighborhood’s general plan follows the early 20th Century City Beautiful planning movement, with a long grassy esplanade along S.E. Reed College Place and east-west streets following the gentle flow of the topography rather than being carved into rectangular blocks in an urban grid. 

Reed College Place 

As an early Portland suburb, Eastmoreland’s attractiveness drew several of the city’s most prominent architects.  Their designs fell mostly into the popular historical architectural revival styles of the early to mid-20th Century.

 Earlier this year, the Portland City Council revised its code for historic resources to include new incentives for specific landmarks and historic districts that could be designated by the City Council, exclusive of the federal rules.  While those rules were supported by preservationists, there so far has been no interest exhibited by the City Council or by the city Planning Commission for any new designations.

 Cities by their nature, of course, are in continual flux.  There is no way of predicting eventual success or failure of the city’s own new rules.

 ----Fred Leeson

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