During the early years of rapid development in the town of Albina, which most of is now inside the Eliot neighborhood, many well-known businessmen were involved with the process. When Albina was incorporated in 1887, it saw phenomenal growth through 1892. Much money was spent and made on real estate investments and industrial expansions tied into the railroad industry. Businesses during these years thrived on healthy profits in part due to an abundant supply of immigrant workers willing to work at working-class wages. The real estate market was exceptionally healthy due to soaring lot prices. After Albina merged with Portland in 1891, the value of property skyrocketed. Most Albina businessmen and property speculators though lived in today’s NW and SW Portland, which was generally where most of the “well-to-do” lived. Robert E. Menefee and his brothers were an exception to this rule as they resided in Albina during most of their lives. Some of the homes they lived in are still standing in the neighborhood today.
Two white ladies, both remembered as “angels” in Portland’s Black community were, improbably, both named Collins—though unrelated.
In our neighborhood full of wonderful old homes, we often wonder who the actual builder was that put his design and energy into these buildings. Many of the skilled men who actually built our homes also lived inside Eliot. Some of them were masters at the design as well as the carpentry. John F. Wilson was one of these men who left their building legacy behind for us. But unlike most builders of the day, he remained inside our neighborhood for six more decades even though he switched residence in several houses. Continue reading