Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Iceman Cometh


Old houses often keep secrets.  We have detected three windows that were built in our house in 1908 that later were replaced by exterior walls.  And when we moved in in 1980, we noticed a tiny doorbell button crammed under a kitchen window and against the back door.

 The button and its casing already had several layers of paint making it unusable, even if the ancient wiring still worked.  Over the years we added three more coats.

 During an extensive remodeling project, Dave Butterfield, the project supervisor for Kraft Custom Construction, removed the paint-encrusted doorbell casing and unmovable button.  Below, he found two metal contact points.  When he pushed them gently together, we heard a loud BONG.  He pressed it a few more times.  BONG rang out each time.

I know nothing about wiring.  Our front doorbell has four chimes that ring twice when the front door button is pushed.  The rear bell makes is a single tone.  Thus, one knows exactly which door should be answered.  The old-timers who installed the system sure knew what they were doing.

 Why would a house have two different doorbells?  Given the age of our house, my surmise is that it was used by the iceman, who periodically delivered ice to the back porch or kitchen for placement in the insulated wooden icebox.  The widespread appearance of electric refrigerators began in the late 1920s, and within several years the iceman was gone.  With him, I presume, went the need for the rear doorbell.

 The single BONG came in handy during our renovation project, which took place in the basement and at the rear of the house.  Whenever Dave Butterfield needed an answer or wanted to suggest an idea, the BONG brought us running.

 We could have snipped the wires and patched the tiny hole in the siding, but we opted instead to find a new button and casing and restore the doorbell in place.  After all, it was part of the history of the house.  Will it come in handy?  Will it get painted over so many times that it becomes nonfunctional? 

 Check back in 100 years and lI'll let you know.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Honoring Beatrice Morrow Cannady

The 25-year home and headquarters for early 20th Century civil rights activist Beatrice Morrow Cannady is now on its way to becoming Portland’s latest entry to the National Register of Historic Places.

The imposing residence on the western edge of Northeast Portland’s Grant Park neighborhood was Cannady’s home from 1912 to 1937, years when she relentlessly advocated for equal treatment and mutual interracial respect among all citizens.

 Her achievements included writing, editing and ultimately publishing The Advocate, a Portland newspaper dedicated to printing the news and advocating equal treatment for Portland’s Black community.  She also was instrumental in creating Pacific Northwest chapters of the NAACP.

 From her 2 1/2 story Northeast Portland home, Cannady hosted numerous “interracial teas,” aimed at promoting friendship and respect among races.  She also loaned books from her personal in-house library of books all written by Black authors.  Her busy schedule also included many speeches at schools, churches and colleges on the subject of race relations.

 Her many topics included discrimination in housing, education, public accommodations and employment. 

 In 1928, Morrow spoke at the national NAACP convention stressing the importance of women in fighting for equality and equal rights. 

Beatrice Morrow Cannady, 1926 (Oregon Historical Society)

In 1932, after her marriage to a second husband, Beatrice Morrow Franklin became the first Black Oregonian to run for the state house of representatives.  She tallied more than 7,600 votes, but fell short of reaching the general election ballot.

 The Great Depression took a major toll on The Advocate newspaper.  She closed the downtown office and moved the business to the attic of her home, but by 1936 or 1937 she ceased publication.  She and her husband moved to Los Angeles, ending her civil rights advocacy in Oregon. .

 Beatrice Morrow died in 1974, age 85.  “Today, Cannady is rightfully remembered as one of Oregon’s most dedicated and dynamic civil rights activists,” states the National Register nomination.

 While the house, built in 1911, is an excellent representation of the Arts and Crafts era of residential construction, the National Register nomination is based not on its architectural merit but on its association with ethnic history and civil rights. 

 Funding for research was provide by the City of Portland, as part of its effort to make sure that city history adequately reflects important contributions across the city’s ethnic diversity.  The extensively-detailed National Register nomination form was researched by Caitlyn Ewers and Matthew Davis of the Architectural Resources Group and Kimberly Moreland of Moreland Resource Consulting.

 The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission unanimously approved the nomination, which will be forwarded to the Oregon state advisory committee on historic preservation, and then very likely to the U.S Department of Interior that manages the national register.

 ------Fred Leeson

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Remembering David L. Williams


Clara McKeyes Inman House

After writing about architect David L. Williams and the Robert L. Lytle mansion (Aug. 26), Jim Heuer, a dedicated preservationist and Portland architectural historian, suggested that I had slighted Williams by suggesting that he had not designed other significant buildings. 

 Indeed.  Jim's knowledge exceeded mine.  Williams was a son of the better-known Portland architect Warren H. Williams.  The younger Williams, who practiced in Portland from the 1883 to 1934, has four houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and another one so interesting it could qualify if nominated.  Williams’ architectural talents were described by one historian as “elaborate eclecticism,” meaning that he was adept at adopting and mixing historical styles commonly seen in his era.

 Three of his notable mansions all include tall, elaborate porticos at the main entrance, like the one we saw earlier at the Lytle mansion.  It was a subsequent tenant in the Lytle mansion who asked Williams specifically to include a portico when he designed the grand Clara McKeyes Inman House, shown above, in Northwest Portland in 1926.  Inman is remembered as the inventor of the electric curling iron. 

Frank C. Barnes House

Williams also added a similar portico at the Frank C. Barnes House erected on Northeast Portland’s Alameda Ridge in 1913-14, less than two years after the Lytle residence.  Barnes, whose many achievements included success in the fish-canning business, lived in the 32-room mansion until his death in 1931.

 Williams’ two other National Register houses were designed in the Colonial Revival style in 1910 for Rufus Holman, a Multnomah County Commission chairman and subsequent U.S. senator, and in 1909 for Frank W. Fenton, a prominent 50-year attorney in McMinnville.

The other interesting Williams house was built in Irvington, just one block from the Lytle mansion.  Unlike the rampant eclecticism demonstrated in the mansions, Williams designed the Harry P. Palmer house in 1912 in the then-trendy Arts and Crafts style.  The design showed Williams’ ability to focus on a single esthetic, but with dramatic flairs.  Two bold, curving, clinker brick piers support the front porch roof. 

Harry P. Palmer House

Mostly hidden now by foliage on the north side is an unusual appurtenance that originally likely was for servants.  Architect/historian William J. Hawkins III described it a “most interesting arrangement of intersecting forms, including an angled, gabled projection, a turreted tower, and a polygonal bay window, all protected by wide eaves with beam extensions and exposed rafter tails.”

 The interior was heavily decorated with mahogany and walnut.  Alas, a subsequent owner decades later found some of the woodwork too dark and painted a significant portion of it white.  A silver dining room chandelier reportedly weighed more than 70 pounds.

 Harry Palmer was a real estate dealer and an Irvington promoted in the neighborhood’s early days.  He apparently lived in the house only a few years before moving on.

It often is difficult to pin down the identity of architects of old buildings.  In the case of the Frank Barnes House, Williams was merely suspected as the architect when it was added to the National Register.  Sometimes facts show up later; for that reason alone we cannot close the books on the career of  David L. Williams.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Saturday, August 26, 2023

What's Next?

By the time wealthy entrepreneurs can afford to build their mansions, they often don’t have many years left to enjoy them.  

 That certainly was the case of the Pittock Mansion, completed in 1914 for Oregonian newspaper publisher Henry Pittock, who died in 1919.  Same with the imposing Robert F. Lytle house, built in Irvington in 1912 as a summer residence for the wealthy Washington state timber owner, who died only four years later.

Then what happens?

After years of decline, the Pittock Mansion eventually was acquired by the City of Portland as a museum and event space.  What’s to become of the Irvington mansion, often called Portland’s White House, remains to be seen.

It is now for sale with an asking price of nearly $3 million, should you be interested.  You’d be buying a two-story Colonial Revival/Mediterranean style house with 14 rooms, oodles of excellent original interior details, a separate remodeled carriage house and lots of interesting history.

One answered puzzle is why the uber-wealthy Lytle chose the flatlands of Irvington for his mansion, when Portland’s upper crust residents were dotting the Southwest and Northwest Portland hills and Northeast Portland’s Alameda ridge with mansions that featured glorious views from on high.  While Irvington grew into a stable, middle-class neighborhood, nothing among its 2,800 properties rivals the Lytle house.

The Lytle design is the only known work of David L. Williams, a son of the much more historically prominent Warren H. Williams.  The elder Williams designed two Italianate houses that survive for Morris Marks, a 19th century shoe merchant, and the carpenter-gothic Old Church that survives as a concert venue.

 After Lytle’s death, the house was owned by William P. Hawley, a paper-making consultant who built the huge (and now gone) Hawley Pulp and Paper Co. at the Willamette Falls in Oregon City.  Another subsequent owner was Harvey Dick, who is well-remembered for turning the old Hoyt Hotel into a rollicking restaurant and nightclub venue in the 1960s.

 The Lytle house’s history then became more muddled.  One prospective owner wanted to turn it into a wedding venue, but neighbors objected.  It is said to have operated for at least a few years as a women’s dress shop, apparently without benefit of a city permit.

 Starting in the early 1980s, successive owners made sensitive improvements and operated it as the Portland White House Bed & Breakfast, but a third owner got clobbered by the pandemic and decided to sell.

 In 2021, a high-tech person from Berkeley bought it for $2.58 million and returned it to a single-family residence.  Maintenance still appears to be good. Now, however, the owner is moving to Europe and put the house on the market a few months ago for $3 million.  Hot as Portland’s housing market is said to be, nobody was lining up to offer $3 million.  The asking price is now $2.895 million.

 Pictures of the interior are available here: https://www.homes.com/property/1914-ne-22nd-ave-portland-or/9yy5nvm7n50px/

 Using the property as a business requires a conditional use permit from the City of Portland.  The local neighborhood association will pay close attention to any conditional use application.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Monday, August 21, 2023

A New Horizon Ahead?

 Given their limited finances, artists hoping to create a synergistic community of their brethren usually don’t look for space in high-end neighborhoods.

Cyrus Cole and Adewale Agboola didn’t bother with the Pearl when they wanted to find a building where artists and musicians, especially from the BIPOC community, could create and display their work in a supportive and vibrant venue.

The three-story masonry building they found and bought sits on the edge of the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District in the 400 block of NW Glisan St.  It bears a sign of Columbia River Ship Supply Inc., although it isn’t clear when that company occupied the building believed to have been erected in 1905.

Fortunately, the old building appears to be in good shape, with arched windows, unusual 12-over-12 lite windows and an interesting corbelled cornice.  The architect is not known.  At various times, the building has been used for manufacturing, storage and more recently as an architecture office. 


An interesting cornice 

Cole, a graphics designed, and Agboola, a photographer, hope to make the first floor a gallery space with a coffeeshop and retail.  Creative spaces on the upper floors would be rented to artists on a daily or 10-day or monthly basis.  The basement they envision as a jazz bar with performance space for musicians or the spoken word.

 Cole and Agboola call their acquisition the Horizon Enterprise Building.  Cole said they are in the final stages of obtaining building permits for the interior work.  Fortunately for them, seismic upgrades were made several years ago, saving them a significant expense.  Intior work is expected to take five or six months, once the pair generate adequate funding.

 “It’s a great building,” said Maya Foty, a member of the Portland Landmarks Commission where Agboola and Cole explained their plans.  “It seems like a great spot.”  She called their plans “exciting on every level.”

 “It’s a little rough around the edges,” Cole said, “but most diamonds in the rough are.”

 The building is listed as a contributing element of the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District, although researchers who wrote the district history said there was no apparent ethnic connection to the Chinese or Japanese communities.  The federal listing said the building contributed to the district because it represented the architecture and commerce of that historic era.  It sits close to the Japanese American Museum of Oregon and the Lan Su Chinese Garden, two institutions that celebrate Portland’s early 20th Century international connections.

There have been times when collections of artists working in proximity have generated additional economic interest in their neighborhoods and lifted property values.  When that happens, the arrival of Starbucks often means it’s time for the artists to move elsewhere. 

 ----Fred Leeson

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Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Progress at Anna Mann

Anna Mann House (1910)

 Sometimes, good plans DO come to fruition.  A quick trip to the one-time Anna Mann retirement home in Northeast Portland, circa 1910, showed that two new companion apartment buildings for low-income residents are at or near completion.  Restoration of the original building has a few more months to go.

 When finished, the 3.1-acre complex at 1021 N.E. 33rd Ave., will contain 128 apartments.  Of those, 42 will be rented to residents who earn less than 30 percent of the region’s median income, and 86 will house residents earning up to 60 percent of the median standard.

 Innovative Housing Inc., a Portland-based non-profit housing developer, cobbled together a complex funding package and won planning approval from the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission almost three years ago.  The developer has a good track record for respecting historic architecture, and will prove it again by preserving the exterior and many interior details of the original Mann house.

The original Anna Mann building was designed by Whitehouse and Fouilhoux, one of Portland’s most prominent firms of the era.  Their other notable work of the period included the University Club and Lincoln High School, now Old Main at Portland State University, and the original Jefferson High School.


New apartment east

The style of the Anna Mann house is considered Tudor Revival or English Elizabethan.  Notable elements include brick walls, steeply pitched roofs, and cast stone lintels and sills at the windows.  The public rooms were trimmed with dark-stained Douglas fir, a common treatment for Arts and Crafts interiors in the Portland area.  Pleasingly, those interior details have been well-preserved.

 The separate new buildings sit on the southern and eastern edges of the site.  While no one will confuse them as “old” buildings, they were designed by Emerick Architects to be compatible with the site’s doyen.  Alas, the budget did not allow for as much brick facing on the eastern building as originally planned.

New apartment south, at left

 When finished, the Mann building will contain 38 apartments, plus communal spaces that will retain many of the original interior details. 

 While senior citizens likely will rent many of the 66 one-bedroom units, there will be numerous two and three-bedroom units that could provide family housing, in addition to a single four-bedroom unit.

 Overall, the project is an excellent example of finding a new use for a worthy piece of historic architecture – and providing a new source of essential housing.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Saturday, August 5, 2023

Careful Changes on Foster Road

(Courtesy of Matt Froman)

After Matt Froman’s crash course in preservation proved successful last year at the old Phoenix Pharmacy building, he has moved a few blocks down Foster Road with plans to restore and revitalize a whole block of storefronts between S.E. 59th and 60th Aves.

 “Obviously, I believe in the neighborhood,” he said.  “I grew up in it.  I’ve always kind of liked it.”

 Froman and a partner, Shawn Morgan, a real estate lawyer who also devoted to the Foster neighborhood, bought the property when the former owner decided to retire.  The architectural highlight of the block is a single-story commercial building dating to 1927 with an arched entrance at S.E. 60th, a crest of red tiles at the roofline and terra cotta decorations on the pilasters.

 The storefront building holds an important role in the history of the Portland-area economy.  In 1935, a young Franklin High School graduate opened the M.J. Murdock Radio and Appliance Company.  The following year he hired another young radio technician, Howard Vollum.


The Murdock Era

Savvy readers will know that after World War II, Murdock and Vollum created a company that came to be known as Tektronix, Oregon’s first big high-tech firm that made oscilloscopes and electronic measuring devices.  Murdock remained as a top executive until 1971 when he was killed when a seaplane he was piloting overturned in the Columbia River.

 For many years Tek was one of the state’s largest employers.  Froman plans to see if he can find further historical evidence of Murdock’s years on Foster Road. 

 Froman’s goal in the project “will be to restore the first three retail spots to look as historically accurate as we possibly can,” he said.  He is currently working on city permits and hopes to have most of the restoration completed by early next year. 

 His plans for the block call for it to continue to be a hub for small businesses.  An antique store, tacqueria and bicycle shop that are current tenants will remain.  The bike shop will move from the primary corner at 60th, and Froman is seeking a new tenant for the arched entrance at 60th.

 “I believe in small businesses and their importance to the economy,” Froman said.  The existing firms have already proven a commitment to Foster Road, and Froman isn’t about to evict them.  “We have been working with them and they have been working with us.” 


Froman's Earlier Project

A few blocks to the east, Froman last year completed restoration of the former Phoenix Pharmacy building, where its curving façade at the sharp corner of S.E. 67th had been a neighborhood landmark since the 1920s.

 The Foster Road corridor has not seen the dramatic impact of new construction that has changed the ambiance of some other Southeast Portland commercial corridors.  Maybe that is good; it provides opportunities for dedicated entrepreneurs like Froman who appreciate the neighborhood and make careful improvements with less disruption.

 ----Fred Leeson

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Friday, July 28, 2023

All's Square at Oblique


Behind any successful architectural preservation project stands someone with extraordinary passion, dedication and perseverance.  Without commitment, preservation doesn’t happen.

Jack Chandler is a prime example.  Back in 2007, he noticed a two-story wooden building dating to 1891 at the southern edge of the Kerns neighborhood.  The old store with living quarters above was listing some 22 degrees off center and the City of Portland wanted to demolish it.

Chandler had other ideas.  He liked the idea of living above a business and he liked the old building and the history it represented as a neighborhood store through few different iterations. Relying on his background in construction management, he spent the next three years straightening and repairing the structure and revamping the plumbing and electricity.

 Architecturally, the two-story building is the kind of carpenter-built structure often found on the western American frontier where wood was the most common and available building material.  The flat frontage is topped with a simple bracketed cornice; the walls are clad with dutch lap siding.

With renovation complete, Chandler opened Oblique Coffee Roasters at 3039 SE Stark St., in 2010, roasting beans and selling individual drinks in a pleasant environment filled with a smattering of antiques and an oaken piano from 1903.  The original fir floor bears the patina and charm of its age.

 Chandler took the name “oblique” from the slant of the building as he found it.  But you only see the name on a small a-frame sign near the door.  Chandler restored the original store’s name on the large “Wm. Landauer” grocery sign painted on the eastern façade. 

 As it was for many small businesses, the three-year pandemic was tough on Oblique’s business.  “There was no way I could see that coming,” Chandler said.  Because the building predates Portland’s zoning code, it is grandfathered as a commercial use in a residential neighborhood.  Alas, that also means there are no nearby businesses that might attract coffee drinkers to it; Oblique’s most frequent customers are pedestrians enjoying the neighborhood.

 Still, Chandler has no regrets.  “I love the building.  I want to own it forever,” he said recently.

 Chandler has enjoyed the coffee business.  But in a city with some 200 individual coffee roasters and many better-known coffee houses, running Oblique is no straight line to financial success. Chandler at some point conceivably could lease the storefront for another commercial use, while still living upstairs.

 If you’re in the neighborhood, take time for some good coffee in a novel, charming environment.  If Jack is behind the counter, thank for a job well done restoring a historic piece of the city.

--Fred Leeson

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Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Public Statues -- Again

Gone, but not forgotten

Leadership has not been an apparent trait at City Hall in recent years.  That appears to be changing, thanks to the one commissioner who is probably the most mild-mannered of the five council members, Dan Ryan.

Last year, Ryan quietly negotiated unanimous council approval to restore the historic David P. Thompson elk statue and the granite fountain upon which it sat.  (The elk and fountain are expected to return early next year.)  Now, since being given charge of the Portland Parks Bureau, Ryan has taken unexpectedly bold steps.

On July 19,  during council testimony about restoring – or not – historic statues that were toppled by protesters, it became clear that the city-funded Regional Arts and Culture Council would NOT be the agency to determine the future of Portland’s public arts policies.  RACC long ago had decided in its infinite wisdom (for itself) that the historic statues would not be returned to public places because of flaws in some of the historic figures’ conduct.

 Soon thereafter, Ryan also announced that city funding for RACC would terminate at the end of the fiscal year next June 30.  Rather than RACC making public art decisions, the City Council will precede with a lengthy community process involving tours, public discussions, and programs hosted by a monuments review panel.

 How long the process will take and what the eventual outcome will be are anyone’s guess.  On the plus side, all sorts of opinions and historical aspects can be analyzed in public, rather than delegating the decision to a small group whose collective mind was already firmly entrenched.

Ryan’s non-combative demeanor no doubt has helped him negotiation council consensus.  One might wonder, however, who has his “ear” on matters of art and preservation.

 While Building on History has no inside information, an ad hoc group calling itself Concerned Citizens has been communicating with Ryan and his staff for many months.  The group includes members with backgrounds in politics, the arts, history and city government.  One of its members is Mike Lindberg, who served on the City Council from 1979 to 1996. 

 While some public advocates shout from the rooftops and try to generate publicity for their cause, others – like the Concerned Citizens – work quietly behind the scenes to influence the levers of governmental power. 

 Ryan’s firm grip on the Parks Bureau was demonstrated recently in yet another way.  He convinced the City Council to rename O’Bryant Square in honor of the late Walter Cole, who built a lengthy and honorable reputation as a drag queen known as Darcelle.  His downtown nightclub was known for its good humor and respect for people of all walks of life.

Being a nice guy, it appears, is worthy of public honor while defeating slavery, winning a revolution against oppression and creating national parks and public forests might not qualify. 

----Fred Leeson

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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

New on the Honeyman Hardware Block


NW Park Ave/ frontage shows new apartments above the creamy brick facade of the historic bindery building at lower left.  (TVA Architects)

What started out as a potential glassy, 23-story apartment tower has been trimmed to eight stories on the historic Honeyman Hardware block in Northwest Portland under revised plans approved by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission.

 If erected, the new building would contain 165 apartments and sit partially above the two story 1920s structure known as the bindery building that was part of the three-block Honeyman complex in the 500 block of NW Park Avenue.

The proposed addition to the Honeyman block follows the demise of another apartment project approved by the landmarks commission in 2007, but died as a consequence of the 2008 recession.

Under the new plan, the oldest component of the Honeyman complex, a livery stable called the Metro building built in 1903 and remodeled many times, would be demolished.  It fronts on NW Park and Hoyt Sttreet. Its place would be taken by a new half-block frontage erected as part of the apartment complex.

 A third building on the block, built as a Honeyman warehouse in 1912, has seen been converted to apartments and will remain. The top of the new apartment, rising 87 feet, roughly matches the height of the former warehouse now called the Cotter Building.

Hoyt Street frontage shows Cotter Building, right, and north facade of new apartments (TVA Architects)

Robert Thompson, a principle of TVA Architects, said the two remaining historic buildings “are in really good shape,” though dirty.  He said their exteriors will be cleaned and the Cotter Building will be repainted as part of the development.

The eastern frontage of the block faces on what is planned to be an extension of the North Park Blocks.  Directly north lies the large vacant site that formerly housed the Main U.S. Post Office.  No development plans have been announced for that multi-block site, but zoning rules could allow high-rise buildings as tall as 400 feet.

The block at present (TVA Architects)

Honeyman Hardware was a leading Pacific Northwest hardware dealer for many years a century ago.  Although built at different times, the three buildings on the block were linked together for commercial purposes.  The full block was added to the National Register of Historic Places in regard for its commercial importance in the era.

Eran Fields, who owns the Honeyman block, met several times with residents and the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.  Despite some quibbles from the neighborhood group, four people testified in favor of the latest plan.  Fields earned compliments for his willingness to listen to concerns and to make changes.  “I think we have come up with the best iteration yet,” he said.

Upper stories of the new apartment feature large windows and a horizontal emphasis on its structure.  The horizontality is a nod to the industrial architecture of the early 20th Century as reflected in the Cotter Building.  Composite metal cladding in a red shade will cover the vertical and horizontal structural members.

 -----Fred Leeson

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Saturday, July 1, 2023

'Old' Becomes New on Division


A new layer of entertainment history awaits a 97-year old lately-vacant theater that will bring more life to SE Division Street.

 The former Northwest Film Study Center, now going under the new name of PAM CUT, (whatever that means) plans to offer videos and multimedia events at the former Oregon Theater at 3510 SE Division St.  Until three years ago, the old theater was best known as a long-running home of explicit sexual movies.

Tomorrow Theater, as it will be called, expects to begin programming in the 300-seat venue in the fall. The film group will no longer be using the Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum. 

 It will be roughly the fourth iteration for the building erected in 1926 by an early Portland movie operator, Isaac Geller.  The theater originally was intended for vaudeville, but soon shifted to movies.   Geller also built and operated the Aladdin and Walnut Park theaters in the 1920s.

All three of Geller’s theaters later operated as porn houses, run by his son-in-law, Sol Maizels.  The Aladdin was the most famous of the three, largely because of a 1975 court case in which Maizels was accused of violating an obscenity law by running the movie “Deep Throat.”

 He testified that he sold more than 100,000 tickets to the movie from 1973 to 1975, a number that helped convince jurors that the move had not violated “community standards --” and thus had not broken the law. (And yes, the movie was played for the jury.)

Geller died in 1976 at age 83.
  The Walnut Park Theater closed in the late 1980s and later was torn down.  The Aladdin changed hands and has become a successful concert venue for popular music.

 Kevin Cavenaugh, a creative designer and developer, bought the Oregon Theater in 2020.  The name he chose for his ownership papers – Double Scrub LLC – hints at the interior condition as he found it.  Cavenaugh’s other notable buildings include the Fair-Haired Dumbell and the Zipper on Sandy Boulevard.

Osmose Design of Portland is designing the internal theater space.  The theater building also includes two storefronts that will remain facing on Division.  This follows a trend in that era when theaters had their front doors on a busy street, but the auditorium was tucked in behind so other uses could be offered on the high-traffic street.  

 In the past 15 years, Division Street has emerged as one of Portland’s leading new urban streets with many apartments and new storefronts.  It is encouraging to see a viable old building be retained for something close to its original purpose.  The theater obviously will add even more vitality to the neighborhood.

 But the vitality comes with a warning: Good luck finding parking.

 ----Fred Leeson

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