Cornerstones African American History Project Continues—Combatting Demolition

Vancouver Baptist Church
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Vancouver Ave Baptist Church in 1961, meeting with the clergy from the church and its neighbors. Photo courtesy Portland Observer.

On​ ​May​ ​18th,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​basement​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Vancouver​ ​Avenue​ ​Baptist​ ​Church,​ ​city representatives​ ​met​ ​with​ ​neighborhood​ ​homeowners,​ ​community​ ​leaders,​ ​city​ ​planners,​ ​and​ ​local historians​ ​to​  discuss​ ​the​ ​precarious​ ​future​ ​of​ ​the​ ​neighborhood’s​ ​homes.​ ​​ ​Finding​ ​the​ ​city’s properties​ ​with​ ​historic​ ​significance​ ​and​ ​protecting​ ​them​ ​from​ ​development​ ​is​ ​the​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​a​ ​new grant-funded​ ​partnership​ ​between​ ​the​ ​city’s​ ​Historic​ ​Preservation​ ​Program​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Architectural Heritage​ ​Center.

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Portland’s Jazz Scene Yesterday and Today

Williams at Russell 1937
Paul’s Paradise, was around the corner at 19 N Russell Street—now a grass lot. Photo courtesy of Portland City Archives

In the early 1940s, Floyd Standifer could be found playing his trumpet to the hills. He would listen as the sound came echoing back. This was the way, in the farmlands outside of Gresham, he worked on perfecting his tone. However, he also learned a lot from Williams Avenue in Portland.

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Eliot History Spotlight: Dawson Park

Dawson Park Gazebo
Dawson Park Gazebo

Right in the heart of Eliot, positioned a block away from the Emanuel hospital between Williams and Vancouver Avenues, lies one of Albina’s most treasured historic spaces: Dawson Park. Today, it’s a shaded, grassy expanse complete with playground, basketball courts, and public fountain. All throughout July, catch free public concerts at Dawson Park every week–but before rolling out the picnic blanket and bringing the family down, learn a little about why Dawson Park’s story is tied so closely to the history of Northeast Portland.

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The Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church

Vancouver Baptist Church
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Vancouver Ave Baptist Church in 1961. Photo courtesy Portland Observer.

Overshadowed though it may be today by the Cook Street Lofts apartment complex currently under construction across the street, the Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church (3138 N Vancouver Avenue) is an institution of the Eliot neighborhood and of African American history in Portland . The Church appears similar to most others across Portland, with a brick  facade, stained glass windows, and a mid-sized wooden steeple. However, it is one of the few remaining structures from  Vancouver Avenue in the 1950s, and a link to the era when the area was known as “Black Broadway”: the hub of African American life and culture in Portland.

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Eliot School Then and Now

Eliot School c1951

Eliot School corner of Knott and Rodney c 1951. Portland Archives A2001-030
Eliot School corner of Knott and Rodney c 1951. Portland Archives A2001-030

The Eliot School, named after Thomas Lamb Eliot,  was built in 1909 on NE Knott at the corner with Rodney.  In the late 1940’s or early 50’s the school’s teachers and students were relocated. Portland Parks took over the building in the early 1950’s and it became the Knott Street Community Center.

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Rev. Dr. John W. Garlington Jr

Rev Garlington
Rev. Dr. John W. Garlington Jr.

Back in 2006 Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare moved the Garlington Center into Eliot Neighborhood at 3034 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  Soon they hope to transform the property with a new mixed use building that will include existing services as well as affordable housing.  

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Larrabee and Albina Then and Now

The Albina Building 1927

The Albina Building, Larrabee and Albina, 1927.  Portland Archives A2009-009.2471.
The Albina Building, Larrabee and Albina, 1927. Portland Archives A2009-009.2471.

This building on the corner of Larrabee (Interstate) and Albina was originally built as a hotel in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s.  The building looks like it was a triangle, however it was actually shaped like a “V”.  At the top of the building, over the corner entrance, are the words “The Albina”.  It appears there is additional text above in the shadows, but it is unreadable – or perhaps it is ornamentation.  In 1929, The Albina was home to the “Ideal Cafeteria” and the “Baxter Apartments”.

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Union and Knott Then and Now

Union (MLK) and Knott 1929

Union and Knott 1929
Union and Knott 1929. Portland Archives A2009-009.1053.

These twin houses on the corner of Union and Knott were built in 1900.  By 1929 Union had already become a busy street and the houses had started the transition from residential to commercial.  “Dr Muck Dentist” occupied the second floor of the house on the corner.  Over the course of his dental career Dr Earl C Muck had his office in different nearby locations on Union.

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Historic Homes Headed for Demolition

623Thompson

There are two 125-year-old houses in Eliot that are going to be demolished if the neighborhood doesn’t rally to save them. The best option would be to purchase them from the developer who owns them, Guy Bryant of GPB Construction, or failing that, to convince him not to tear them down to build his ultramodern 40-foot-tall rowhouses that, needless to say, don’t fit in to the neighborhood. The houses were built at the time the City of Albina was its own city.

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The John Antonio House

Historic Homes & Buildings: The John Antonio House
The Second Oldest House in Eliot

The John Antonio House
The John Antonio House on NE Tillamook with snow in January 2007

There is one small old house tucked away inside our architecturally diverse neighborhood that could escape being noticed during a walk. It is not a fancy Victorian-era house loaded with gingerbread but a simple cottage with a shallow bay window in front. The Antonio Cottage can be found in the middle of the block on the south aide of NE Tillamook between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and NE 7th Avenue at number 528. The house sits on one of the earliest blocks developed when the “Townsite of Albina” was laid out in 1873. Research has revealed that this is the second oldest structure known in our neighborhood.

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Churches of Eliot: A historical resource

By Jason Franklin

ChurchMap
A number of churches were built in the neighborhood around the turn of the 20th century

The churches of Eliot are a rich historic and cultural asset to the neighborhood. There are at least ten churches in the neighborhood today and most were built in the early 1900’s with Immaculate Heart dating to 1889.

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