Wednesday, December 27, 2023

New Life at The Sandy Jug


There is no need for architectural vocabulary to describe the Sandy Jug.  One glance says it all. 

After serving for decades as a strip club, this 96-year landmark at 7414 NE Sandy Blvd. is being remodeled into a new business where patrons and servers will be fully clothed.  More on that later.

 The Jug (also called by punsters The Sandy Jugs during its stripper era) was one of three unusual buildings erected in the 1920s that visually represented the businesses inside.  The Big Shoe at NE 20th Ave. (now long gone) was a shoe repair shop.  The Steigerwald Dairy building with its big milk bottle at NE 37th Ave. remains, but the bottle was encircled decades ago with a newer façade.  (A little-known fact is that the bottle still survives inside.)

The Steigerwald Dairy before remodeling

 Both The Big Shoe and the Steigerwald Dairy were designed by the company owners.  The Sandy Jug was different.  It was designed by the architectural firm of Bennes & Herzog, well known in the era for Portland theaters (including the Hollywood), several imposing residences of differing styles and for several buildings on the Oregon State University campus.

One theorizes that the Jug did not rank highly to Bennes & Herzog on their personal list of accomplishments.  Nevertheless, it ranks as a well-known Northeast Portland landmark even without formal designation; losing it would have been sad, indeed.

 The jug originally served as a refreshment venue for an adjacent gas station, known as the Gusher, which presumably was the primary business.  To attract motorists, the small triangular lot included an 80-foot faux oil gusher that was removed long ago.    

 Today, the Sandy Jug is being remodeled by a company headed by Marcus Archambeault and Warren Boothby, who in recent years have revitalized several old-school bars in Portland including The Alibi, The Sandy Hut and Holman’s.  Their business philosophy is to take old so-called dive bars and to revive them into attractive, popular destinations.

 So far, the exterior of The Sandy Jug has been tastefully repainted and narrow vertical windows that were boarded up during the strip club years have been restored with glass bricks, largely restoring the jug to its original appearance.  A covered patio has been added with outdoor seating – for clientele when the weather is appropriate.  An opening date for the new enterprise has not been announced.

Those of us who enjoy a tall cold one from time to time may well be able to help usher The Sandy Jug into its second century. 

 -------Fred Leeson

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1 comment:

  1. This is great.
    As a kid, I used to think of all the northeast Portland food architecture, including the bread loaf and bottle of pop, as a giant's picnic. Every city needs its whimsy.