Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot – Summer Activities Galore

This column features businesses in Eliot and just beyond our neighborhood’s borders to help our residents learn what exciting businesses and opportunities are located in and around our amazing neighborhood.  

This issue we focus on some summer activity ideas in and around Eliot. 

 It’s summertime and you’re probably looking for some activities for you and possibly for your kids. Opportunities are plentiful and we’ve gathered a few resources and specific events for you to check out. 

Block Parties

Make sure you put the block parties listed below for VOA’s Men’s Residential center and Matt Dishman Community Center on your calendar. You can also organize your own block party. It’s easy to get a free permit from the city and then rent barricades for a small fee to block off your street for an afternoon of food, fun, activities and get to know your neighbors better as a bonus. See the links below for permits and block party ideas.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/33907

https://www.neighbor.com/storage-blog/neighborhood-block-party-games-and-ideas/

Matt Dishman Community Center Block Party

The community center is holding its annual block party on Saturday, August 24 from  12:00-4:00 pm at 77 NE  Knott Street. Knott Street between Rodney and Williams will be closed off to traffic. The event will include a free barbeque, snow cones,  cotton candy, kids and family activities, face painting, arts and crafts, and live music. The theme this year is “Celebrating our Neighborhood Heroes” focusing on the history of our community and people that have made a difference. Stop by and have some fun! Call Autumn at 503-823-3673 for more details.

Volunteer of America Men’s Residential Center Block Party

The center is holding its annual block party on Tuesday, August 20th, from 4:30-7:00 pm. As always, they will plan to have BBQ food (for free) some family-friendly live music, face painting, balloon twisting, and a children’s bounce house.  Stop by Sacramento St. (between MLK and NE 7th Avenue) – they will have the street closed to through traffic from 2-7:30 pm that day. This is always a well-attended event. 

Growing Upwards

Growing Upwards is your one-stop for all things summer camps and classes and daycare too. Visiting their website is an easy way to search for classes or camps to keep your kids busy this summer. Visit GrowingUpwards.com or call (503) 927-3136

Matt Dishman Community Center 

The center offers preschool camps and summer camps for ages 3 and up. They also offer classes for adults and of course, there’s the indoor pool to enjoy too!

77 NE Knott St, 503-823-3673 

Open Signal 

According to its website, Open Signal is “your local media arts space. Unlike any other media center in the Pacific Northwest, we offer production studios and equipment, filmmaking workshops, artist residencies, and a cable broadcast platform, all under one roof.” They are also offering summer camps for kids grades 6 through 12 and also classes for adults. For more information about Open Signal visit opensignalpdx.org/calendar, stop by 2755 NE MLK or call 503-288-1515.

PICA (Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts) TBA Festival

PICA has an annual arts festival in September at various locations around the city. TBA which stands for Time Based Art is an amazing collection of artists, performers screenings and talks and visual art installments. According to their website, “TBA is interdisciplinary, and champions those artists who are challenging forms and working across mediums.” This year the festival runs from September 5-15. Their primary location and offices are located in our neighborhood at 15 NE Hancock Street.  Check their website, Pica.org, for more information or call 503-242-1419. You don’t want to miss this!

Portland’s Culinary Workshop

Have an inkling to learn something new or heighten your culinary skills? Portland’s Culinary Workshop located at 807 N Russell Street is the place with classes for kids and adults. The 2-3 hour classes are listed on their website and are fun, informative and inspiring. Call 503-512-0447 or visit Portlandsculinaryworkshop.com 

Portland Parks & Recreation

Our neighborhood Matt Dishman center is part of Portland Parks & Recreation but there are lots of other locations to choose from for summer classes and camps. Check out this article on their website at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/38277  There is also a lot more on their general website at portlandoregon.gov/parks. Check it out and have some fun this summer!

Free for All—concerts and more

Portland Parks & Recreation offer free concerts, movies and a program called lunch and play and more. Check out the events and other options at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/732643 

Pedal Palooza

Looking for a family-friendly way to get exercise, make some new friends and see your city? Check out Pedal Palooza. https://www.shift2bikes.org/pages/pedalpalooza/ 

Coalition of Black Men- Annual Community Bike Ride 

Saturday, August 3  from 9am-2pm starting at 5257 NE MLK at Vanport building. All are welcome to join this annual, fun event. For more information visit cobmpdx.org  or call(503) 919-6804. 

Soo Bahk Do/Tai Chi/Qigong/Therapeutic Martial Arts

Ever consider taking up martial arts? According to their website, “Portland Soo Bahk Do is the first Moo Duk Kwan® School in Portland Oregon- opening on January 20th, 2015- during the 70th anniversary of the birth of Founder Hwang Kee’s Moo Duk Kwan® school in Korea (1945).”  Portland Soo Bahk Do offers classes in Soo Bahk Do which is a Korean classical martial art as well as Tai Chi, Qigong and Therapeutic Martial Arts. There are classes for all ages Tuesday and Thursday afternoon  and evenings. For more information visit www.PortlandSooBahkDo.com or call 503-502-2965 or 503-303-4783.

Woodlawn MIC Center

1425 NE Dekum St

Soo Bahk Do:Tues & Thurs 7-8 PM

Therapeutic Martial Arts/Tai Chi/Qigong: Tues &Thurs 6-7PM and
Tues & Fri 7-8AM

Yoga: Thurs 8-9AM

Blazers Boys & Girls Club After School Youth Program 

5250 NE MLK Jr Blvd

Soo Bahk Do: Tues & Thurs 4-5 PM

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Eliot Board Members Serving Up Meals and Providing Community at Walnut Park Shelter

For the last few months, the Eliot Neighborhood Association board members have been participating in providing and serving dinner once a month to the residents at Walnut Park Shelter. According to the website for Multnomah County, “The Walnut Park Shelter, at 5329 NE Martin Luther King Blvd., will provide nighttime accommodations for up to 80 people, with special priority for veterans, people 55 and older, those with disabilities, and people already experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the neighborhood. The shelter will open daily at 5 p.m. and close at 7:30 a.m.” There is no kitchen available on site but the staff is friendly and the residents appreciate the meals served.

Continue reading Eliot Board Members Serving Up Meals and Providing Community at Walnut Park Shelter

More Mayo House History and Its Amazing Move

Please note that a response to this article, as well as an editor’s note,  follow this article.

Mayo house at its first location on NE Sacramento. Photo credit Portland City Archives

What started as a way to buy an affordable house ended up a many-years-long adventure to refurbish a home while unexpectedly experiencing the spirit world up close and personal.

Gardner and Donna Murphy knew they wanted to get out of the northwest Portland apartment they were living in and started the search to buy a home. In 1979 homes were much less expensive than they are today but still, most home prices were out of reach for the young couple. After being shown many homes by their real estate agent in “white” neighborhoods they wondered if there were any other neighborhoods they could explore where they could afford to buy. As was common practice, their real estate agent would not take them to any of the homes for sale in the “black” neighborhoods so the Murphys took matters into their own hands. While looking in the Oregonian real estate section, one house jumped out to them. The sweet home at 206 NE Sacramento Street built in 1896 seemed like just the property they had been looking for. The current owner was a businessman who owned several properties that he had brought up to code and then rented them out. However, he was getting ready to move out of Portland and this particular house needed a lot of repairs to bring it up to code. He had been able to obtain a loan because of the success of the other homes he had refurbished. The Murphys agreed to provide a lot of sweat equity and to assume his loan for what was a very affordable price. They were given a deadline to complete the repairs, but it would end up taking a lot more sweat equity than originally anticipated to complete the project.

Mayo house at 206 NE Sacramento. Photo credit Sue Stringer

“I thought Gardner knew more about construction and he thought I knew more about construction,” says Donna Murphy. “We had to get an extension of a few more weeks from the owner,” Donna says, “but, he liked what we did.”

The home had no heat at first except for a sawdust burner. “For the first 2 or 3 years ‘til we got the PDC (Portland Development Commission) loan there would be ice on the inside of the windows,” Donna remembers. Gardner recalls, “there was almost no interest on that PDC loan.” They were able to get other PDC loans for the storm windows and insulation.

A few months after they had moved into the home the ghost activity began. Donna confesses, “I never believed in ghosts ‘til I saw one within a few months of moving in. Our little baby, Annie, coughed in the middle of the night and I looked over to see if she was okay and there was a man with a plaid shirt on, like a flannel shirt, looking over the crib looking at her. I thought it was Gardner. I thought Gardner beat me to the crib and then I realized, no, Gardner’s right here (next to her in bed) and this man that was crouched over drifted that way and into the kitchen. It was never scary, it was just interesting. The next morning I thought, ‘I saw a ghost!’ I read that Martin Mayo had a baby while living at that house.”

Donna learned that fact much later after they had moved from and sold the house so she didn’t know who this ghost might be.

Because of this detail and other details about Martin Mayo, the Murphys think that the ghost could have been the spirit of Martin Mayo. Mayo was a cook at a restaurant which he ended up buying and naming it the Mayo Restaurant. Lucretia and Martin’s only son, George P. Mayo was born in that house.

Gardner recalls, “I never had any thought of ghosts until living in that house. In a gas stove, there is an igniter that usually goes click, click, click (fast). Ours started going at night when you weren’t in the room as you were getting ready for bed and it would go click (pause), click if it was bedtime and you weren’t in the kitchen. Our renters asked us about that too.” The stove was changed out three times and each would have that same random clicking at bedtime which would stop when anyone went into the kitchen.

Also, says Gardner, “I felt the bed shaking once and you did too (Donna). I woke up. I took a quick peek and then back under the covers!”

Donna also recalls smells coming from the kitchen. “There was the smell of oatmeal and bacon in the middle of the night.”

“And the voices… One day my sister, as we were bringing in the groceries said, ‘did you leave a radio on?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s the spooks.’ The one was a man having a conversation with himself and the other was a female upstairs in the attic talking slow and measured for hours at a time. You just get used to it. It was like living with roommates next door,” says Donna. “I never felt in any danger. However, I was having nightmares about the clicking and one night I said, ‘You have to stop!’ There was two separate loud pops or bangs and pretty much after that, there was no more ghost activity.” So it seems that Donna had gotten through to the ghosts for the time being!

Apparently, others who have lived in the house have experienced the same thing including tenants of the Murphy’s, some kids who came by and said they had lived in the house and asked if they had heard any ghosts and also some friends of their daughter, Annie, who also lived in the house. Pretty persistent spirits, those Mayos.

Even though the house was haunted, the Murphy’s loved owning and living in the Mayo house and enjoyed the diverse neighborhood and wonderful neighbors. They also enjoyed the adjacent two lots which they purchased from a developer who was going to put up a 6 unit apartment building. They basically purchased those for just over the cost of the back taxes. Saving the lots from development, they turned the property into an urban forest, farm and playground for the kids. Tall trees to climb, room to play baseball and ride bikes, it was a veritable wonderland. Ironic that now the property will again be transformed by a developer building an even larger complex than the one originally avoided in the 1980s.

A House on the move… the Mayo house rolling down the street to its new location at 236 NE Sacramento. Photo credit Brad Baker.

Fast forward to 2019 and the lucky opportunity to meet the Murphy’s at the Mayo house move on January 27th. The Murphys and many other neighbors, friends, family and intrigued residents gathered to watch a house move for the third time down the same street. This time the house will become home to the Black history archives courtesy of Cleo and Kayin Davis. They purchased the house and through a lot of bureaucratic sweat equity and help from the city planners, were able to get a zoning change, fees waived and coordinate the logistics to move a house to their property at 236 NE Sacramento. The actual process was awesome to watch and hard to imagine possible that a 123-year-old home can handle that much movement. Who knows, maybe Martin Mayo and his wife are happy that the house is moving to a third location on the same block and their spirits will be at rest. As for the Murphy’s, they are at peace. Back in 1986 when they sold the house to one of their renters they bought a house in the Beaumont Neighborhood. Thankfully the house they now own is, “at peace with itself,” according to Donna.

Whew, made it all in one piece! Final destination on the Davis’ property. Photo credit Sue Stringer.

We’re not going to say this is the final chapter of the Martin Mayo house story because there is so much more to come with the “ARTChives” the Davis’s are going to create. Who knows? The house may last another hundred years so it will have a chance to have a much longer story with guaranteed interesting twists and turns and perhaps some new ghosts to haunt its rooms.

Shara Alexander submitted this response to the above article.

Response to  “A Story of Sweat Equity”

Shara Alexander

The April 2019 Eliot News story about a previous owner of the Mayo house used a word in the title that has a connotation other than ghosts. That word is “spooks”. (“A Story of Sweat Equity and Spooks- More Martin Mayo House History and its Amazing Move”) People over the age of 50 or people of any age who have read about or experienced racism will be familiar with this racist epithet for African Americans. The title of the article has been changed online.

In addition to using a racist epithet in the title, the article seems to be indifferent to the context of racism, loss and displacement for many residents of this neighborhood. It’s the story of a white family taking advantage of the disparity in home prices and conditions in a redlined area of the city in 1979. This is not just one family’s experience, but is a broad national economic trend founded in racism. I am also white and took advantage of the seemingly irrational low prices of homes and lots in this quadrant of the city when I bought my home in 1992. Even if I didn’t have much money at the time I bought my house, I was in a better economic position than many existing residents and had access to more resources (bank loans, family money, job opportunities) as well as the ability to be comfortable and welcomed in any neighborhood in the city due to my race. This is not a victimless advantage, and it’s not a coincidence, even if we are blissfully unaware as white home buyers. As long as the homes and lots in this neighborhood were owned by people of color, they had lower value. Once the area was transferred into primarily white hands the values began to increase. It was gradual but irreversible, and we are seeing the result of this process today. Economically disadvantaged people are priced out and scramble to find housing again in the currently less desirable parts of the city. The parts of town deemed less desirable by real estate agents and high income buyers changes over time, but are always home to the poor, people of color and immigrants through this economic process of loss and gain. If we are blind to that history and to the continuation of economic disparities by race and other biases we are allowing the system to continue. This entrenched problem may be complex, but if we recognize and acknowledge it we can begin to work together to find solutions.

This neighborhood paper has published many articles about the neighborhood’s history of racism, most recently “ARTchives could be a Game Changer for Portland’s Black Diaspora” January 27, 2019  and “Emanuel Apologizes” September 6th, 2017. I hope readers will continue to think critically about what they see in the neighborhood, how we got here, and who is most impacted by the continuing gentrification and displacement of families in Portland.

Additional resources for learning about racism and the home ownership history of Albina/Eliot:

“Priced Out” the documentary film will be shown from 7pm at the Leaven Community Center on May 2nd

High Country News: https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.9/race-racism-portlands-racist-history-of-housing-discrimination-and-gentrification

The above article “More Martin Mayo House History and its Amazing Move” was published in the spring issue of the Eliot News. The original title and a quote in the article had some phrases that are insensitive and though, not excusable, in the context they were used they were not intended to be offensive. The article title has been amended to exclude those words. The article also does not adequately explain the issues surrounding home buying and selling in the racially diverse Eliot Neighborhood in the not so distant past. 
The Eliot News team will take this oversight as an opportunity to explore topics of racial equity, cultural sensitivity, and historical inequities in our neighborhood. We want to be sensitive and thoughtful when choosing and sharing content with our residents and the extended communities in Portland. 
Sue Stringer, Editor, Eliot News

Letter from the Editor

Welcome Spring! Soon Summer will be here before we know it. The year is moving along faster than I can keep up. I do look forward to the nicer weather and being able to stop and pause in the warmth of the sun, take a walk through the neighborhood and enjoy all the beautiful gardens and spring flowers. My crocuses are plentiful this year and the tulips are preparing for a fantastic show of color. Soon we will have new trees around some businesses and homes in Eliot to add to the urban landscape (see page 10).

Continue reading Letter from the Editor

Historic Rinehart Building Still Bringing Community Together at Game Knight Lounge

Two people in black shirts and pants stand in front of a wall of shelves containing board games.
Christian Wright and Andrew Pitt, owners of Game Knight Lounge, surrounded by the 700+ games available to play with your friends.

By Sue Stringer

If the walls could speak, the historic Rinehart Building, which sits at the corner of Williams and Monroe, would have so many stories to tell. Its history includes tenants from a variety of different businesses and has been frequented by people from many different walks of life. There are even tales of tunnels under the building connecting to nearby churches to allow people to outrun the law during raids in the prohibition era.

Continue reading Historic Rinehart Building Still Bringing Community Together at Game Knight Lounge

Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot: Meet Your New Eliot Neighborhood Association Board for 2019

By Sue Stringer

This column usually features businesses, in Eliot and just beyond our neighborhood’s borders to help our residents learn what exciting businesses and opportunities are located in and around our amazing neighborhood. However, in this issue, we focus on the people that make up the Eliot Neighborhood Association Board.

Our Eliot Neighborhood Association board is made up of 12 members this year. Most live in Eliot but some just work in Eliot and live in other neighborhoods. We have included most of them here so you can get to know them better. Also, you can always stop by a neighborhood association meeting and come meet us in person!

Continue reading Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot: Meet Your New Eliot Neighborhood Association Board for 2019

Moving News about Martin Mayo House

Martin Mayo House
Martin Mayo House in 2018. Photo by Sue Stringer

It’s not often that a house is in the news multiple times over the course of 122 years, but it’s no wonder when one specific house has had 4 different physical addresses. The Martin Mayo House has been the topic of many articles in the Eliot News – most recently in the summer issue of the Eliot News (“Historic Martin Mayo House Slated for Demolition” and “Help Stop the Demolition of Martin Mayo House”).

Continue reading Moving News about Martin Mayo House

10th Annual Eliot Clean Up is May 19

Cargo Bike
Eliot resident bikes in donations at the 2017 cleanup.

It’s that time of year again when we get the urge to do a bit of spring cleaning and get rid of all that clutter that has been gathering in our closets, basements and garages.  How convenient that the Eliot Neighborhood Association is organizing its 10th annual spring clean-up event where you can bring items that you no longer want that someone else may have been pining for and throw away that broken chair that’s taking up valuable real estate in your shed.

Continue reading 10th Annual Eliot Clean Up is May 19

Food Cart Owner Pays it Forward

Jimmy Wilson

Pay it forward.  This is a well-known phrase that is easy to understand and possible to enact but rarely a lifelong philosophy that continually directs your life.  One Eliot businessman has dedicated his life to paying it forward and it has had a positive effect on his life and the life of others. You might have been to the food cart pod on Vancouver and Fremont or maybe you’re new to the Eliot neighborhood and are looking for some convenient and delicious dinner options. Jimmy Wilson owns the food carts at this location and the story about how they came to be located here is one of dedication and generosity.

Continue reading Food Cart Owner Pays it Forward

Meet the Board – Jere Fitterman

Photo of Jere Fitterman
Jere Fitterman

“Meet the board” is a series of posts to help you get to know the members of your Eliot Neighborhood Association Board.

Jere has lived in Eliot since Jan 2009. She has been on the board for two years as Co-Chair with Patricia Montgomery. This year she is the Chair. Jere wanted to join the board because she wanted to get to know more neighbors and get involved in local issues and events.

Continue reading Meet the Board – Jere Fitterman

Meet the Board – Maggie Gardner

“Meet the board” is a series of posts to help you get to know the members of your Eliot Neighborhood Association Board.

Maggie has lived in Eliot for 12 years. She has attended meetings sporadically over the years, but never been on the board before this year. She just got elected Vice Chair and is interested in exploring what might unite and engage our community.

Continue reading Meet the Board – Maggie Gardner

Meet the Board – Sue Stringer

Sue Stringer

“Meet the board” is a series of posts to help you get to know the members of your Eliot Neighborhood Association Board.

Sue is fairly new to Eliot. She has lived in the neighborhood for the last five years but has lived in Portland on and off for 21 years.  Sue joined the board as the  Eliot News Editor in 2014. She joined the board because she wanted to get more connected with the neighborhood and meet new neighbors.

Continue reading Meet the Board – Sue Stringer