The Road to a New Road, Interstate 5 Updates

By Ruth Eddy

The Oregon Department Of Transportation’s (ODOT)  plans to expand I-5 in our neighborhood are not moving at highway speeds. The reshaping of an asphalt landscape is slow. The big machinery that digs the dirt is quiet, the bureaucratic gears of planning and design are fully in motion, with three significant meetings occurring in the last few months.

First, the Oregon Transportation Committee (OTC) met on April 2nd to make a decision that had been delayed since December at Governor Brown’s request. At the end of the three-hour meeting, which was held on Zoom and live-streamed for the public on YouTube, the five-member board voted unanimously to move forward into a design phase on the I-5 Rose Quarter Project without completing an Environmental Impact Statement

In response to the forward motion set by the OTC, the project’s Executive Steering Committee (ESC) had its first Zoom meeting on May 22nd to set a framework by which to make future decisions about the project.  The 16 members of the ESC were led by facilitator Dr. Steven Holt. Half of nearly two-hour-long meeting was dedicated to introductions. Dr. Holt asked each of the members to answer the question, “What does restorative justice mean to you?”  The answers varied in detail but addressed similar themes. Marlon Holmes answered succinctly, “Calling on a community to address ills or wrongs committed against that community, and with the perpetrators addressing how those ills and wrongs have affected the community.” 

A week later, on May 28th, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) held its second meeting, also on Zoom. According to Megan Chanel, the Rose Quarter Project manager, the project design was approximately 15% completed and CAC would advise all further work. “Think of it as we’ve brought the sandbox, but we need your help in burying some sand helping us build the sandcastle,” Chanel said.

Christopher John O’Connor, one of 24 members on the committee, believed the metaphor to be overly optimistic and offered his own saying, “The house has been built, we know how many bathrooms there’s going to be, we know what the general layout is, we’re going to be discussing… what color to paint it.”

Another member of the committee, Liz Fouther-Branch, expressed frustration with the obtuse language used to describe components of the project. Fouther-Branch said, “We need to be able to go back to our communities and speak to them in plain English about what the benefits are, what the impacts are. Breaking down the transportation language into community language so that you can build that trust in community.”

The CAC will meet again on Tuesday, June 23, 5:30-7:30. The next ESC meeting has not yet been scheduled, but all meetings are open to the public and archived on ODOT’s Youtube page.

We Can’t Stand By While Highways Are Widened

How I-5 was planned and built through Eliot in the 1950s and why we should not widen it

At a recent meeting, my Co-chair, Jimmy Wilson, asked me a pertinent question: “Where were white folks standing when Interstate-5 (I-5) was run through North Portland in the 1950’s?”  I decided to dig through archives to find out, visiting the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) website and then spending a significant amount of time on the Oregonian’s historical archive (found through Multnomah County Library). I also tried to find some other local news sources like the Northwest Clarion but unless I go find someone with an extensive microfilm archive and dig through it manually I don’t think I would find anything.

Eastbank Freeway Construction through the Broadway-Weidler Interchange in 1962. Photo courtesy Portland City Archives

In Northeast Portland, the intersection of Urban Renewal policies and Freeway Construction Policies combined to remove the heart of the Black community’s housing stock (over 800 units from the Eliot area alone) between 1955 and 1970. The Eliot and Lower Albina neighborhoods were decimated to make room for I-5, but even larger pieces were removed to make Memorial Coliseum and its parking lots. Later, Emanuel Hospital’s expansion dreams and the I-405 off-ramps removed even more of the community’s buildings and dislocated its people.

I was struck by the sheer pace of highway planning and construction during the late 1950’s through the Portland region. Planning or construction of all of the highways we now know within 5 miles of Eliot happened within 5 years. The roadway engineers had a seemingly limitless budget during those days, and they had tremendous power to reshape the city as well. They knew that highways became clogged with cars a few years after they were constructed through a process we now call “induced demand.” The highway engineers knew that I-84 (“the Banfield Freeway”) would soon become congested and had plans for a “Fremont Expressway” taking an east-west route through Northeast Portland and another “Mount Hood Freeway” taking an east-west route through Southeast Portland. Those routes will never be built, and from what I can tell, many of the existing highways should not have either. Uprisings over the removal of so many housing units prevented the later highways from being built, but not before Eliot and North Portland received the scar of I-5. These routes have served to increase the geographic footprint of our region and helped make everything more quickly accessible by car.  In doing so, these highways have also increased the dependence on the car for transportation throughout our region, increased the average distance of trips and increased the basic cost of living of citizens of the Portland Metropolitan Region.

The Interstate System was funded through the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which authorized $25 Billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway system over a supposedly 10-year period. In the act, a Highway Trust Fund was created that paid for 90% of highway construction costs. This meant that state highway engineers could dream up huge plans and only needed a 10% match from local governments to build highways. This amazing subsidy may have helped highway builders of the time become desensitized to the value of the buildings they were destroying in the name of “progress.”

I found that there were other options considered for the “Minnesota Freeway” that we now know as I-5 from I-405 to the Washington border.  However, the main other option was the “Delaware Freeway,” a route more along N Greeley and N Delaware Avenues, one which would have removed slightly more houses and been slightly more expensive to construct. This option would still have taken the same path through the Eliot Neighborhood. The opposition to the Minnesota option was disorganized and didn’t coalesce around one specific alternative, which contributed to it being ignored. There was a bridge built at N. Ainsworth across the highway to mollify the principal of Ockley Green School, which would have had its district separated by the highway had that bridge not been built. To this day N. Ainsworth is one of the calmest places to cross I-5 in north Portland.

After this research, I thought to myself, okay, what about the section of highway that actually runs through Eliot?  It turns out that this was a bit challenging to find out about because it was actually considered a part of the “East Bank Freeway” even though this stretch between I-84 and N. Russell Street was not along the river.  This route may have been chosen by planners at the City of Portland signing off on plans prepared by the Oregon Department of Transportation. From the news of the day, it appears that the people living and working on the east side of the river were not substantially consulted in the process, even though hundreds of families would be displaced for the highway project. The first mention of this highway running through Eliot in The Oregonian was from January 1959, and in February and March there were some articles talking about the number of buildings to be torn down. At one point they were referred to as “Ancient Buildings.” By December, the right of way had been cleared. This is unbelievable to me:  Less than 6 months from the first timely public mention of the highway going through this area to the mayor approving the demolition, and 12 months from the first mention of the highway to complete demolition. A cursory note of the design of the Broadway, Williams, Weidler, Flint and Vancouver overpasses was made, as was a note that 29 other streets would be “terminated” or turned into dead ends.

During the demolition process, salvagers would pay prices as low as $5 for the right to salvage parts out of houses that would be demolished for the East Bank Freeway Route. One hundred and eighty households with 400 people were displaced by one count; another count I read included 250 households. Is it possible that those with the power to demolish buildings might not have been particularly concerned with those they were displacing?  To me, this is obviously the case. One article I read talked about the shocking record of non-litigation by homeowners on the route. Either property owners thought they were getting a fair deal by the Oregon Department of Transportation, or they had no leverage in the courts to make it worth the legal troubles.

With the power of hindsight, we do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past. ODOT is planning to widen I-5 underneath the 5-bridge intersection we now have around Broadway, Weidler, Vancouver, Williams and Flint Avenues. During the 1960s, there were a series of highway revolts across the country, resulting in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1959 governing roadway construction. As a result of this, the current proposal by ODOT to widen I-5 around the Broadway/Weidler Interchange, rebuild all of the roads that cross the highway, and provide some minor and questionably valuable “ community benefits” has been in the planning and engineering process for the past 10 years. During the time since the planning process started, the process of “approving” this project has been orchestrated in a way that no elected body has had a simple vote on whether they wanted to build this project or not. There have been several votes about what type of environmental review process to do, about whether we want to pass a huge transportation funding bill including this project, and about whether to approve buying land for the right of way of the project. However, no politicians have ever been asked to vote on whether to actually build this project.

The project is not particularly popular. Roughly 90% of the public comments about the project have been in opposition to building it, including the Eliot Neighborhood Association’s comments at every step of the way. The effects of highway construction are generally worst for those that live and spend their lives closest to the freeway. The local residents are subjected to detours, construction noise and pollution during the construction process. In addition, after project completion, the increased traffic on local streets and the highway will make quality of life for those living around the project worse. That increased traffic is all but guaranteed while widening highways. There is a nearly 1-to-1 relationship between the number of highway lane miles and traffic, whatever name you give to the lanes that you are building. If we look closer at what “local benefits” the project would have, we can see that just tweaking the street grid above the highway will have minor impacts at best. A new pedestrian crossing between Winning Way and NE Clackamas street was intended to be an asset, but highway planners have put such a curve in it that it will not shorten any journeys with its meandering path above a noisy highway. The Hancock-Dixon overpass will not substantially connect streets that are not served with the current Flint overpass we have now. Even the new “public spaces” created by the project will be small and triangular, possibly the site of camping since no accommodation for productive buildings on them is being made.

The only real change the project would make to the surrounding area would be widening the highway, a car-capacity increase that will barely change travel times through the area. It would also serve to put more cars into our local street network, which has led to renderings showing even wider streets through the area than we have now. This would increase road noise and reduce the value of land around the project area. Although trumpeted as a “traffic and safety project” it serves neither. Safety on other ODOT-managed streets is a much higher priority than in this corridor, which has not seen any deaths in a decade. Only congestion pricing has proved to improve traffic in urban environments, and we should be pursuing that sort of system instead of putting down more concrete.

Before this project started, drawings of how to reconstruct I-5 in a wider configuration with “minimal” impacts to traffic above were generated. This project has always been about a wider I-5 through the Broadway interchange, and everything else is just window dressing. It is not too late. Any benefits this project might have could be achieved at a much lower cost through other means.  We can still stop this $800 million boondoggle, which is clearly a continuation of the shameful history of highway construction in Portland’s inner neighborhoods. It is not too late.

What Will Be the New Normal Post-quarantine?

Recent development in Eliot has had two notable impacts on the area.  The first is construction of large apartment blocks.  The second is the flourishing of new cafes, bars, and restaurants in small storefronts.  The big question in my mind is what will happen to these in the immediate, as well as long term future?  Effort to allow bar and restaurant service in adjacent parking lots and sidewalks this summer is a necessary first step, but unlikely to be sufficient to preserve all of them.  Will the storefronts left behind by those that close just be boarded up, returning Williams/Vancouver and MLK to the way it looked prior to these developments?  Will residents in those multistory apartment blocks relocate to lower density rental properties where they have fewer contacts with strangers and high-touch surfaces?  Will folks who are allowed to continue working from home relocate, either to larger accommodations (2-bedroom units from 1 or studios) or leave the city altogether?  Any of these trends would change the character of Eliot as we have known it. 

Some other trends that are likely to persist include the reduced travel to work, for those who can, and for shopping as well as general avoidance of malls and theaters where strangers are thrown together (undermining the need to widen I-5).  Will this be the end of the Lloyd Center?  Its plan to become an “event center” seems especially poorly timed now, especially with the future of some of its tenants, (Lloyd Cinemas, Macy’s) unclear.  And what of the Blazers?  The Rose Quarter is already one of the smallest NBA venues.  Can the Blazers tolerate having only half the seats available for sale?  And, what about the large conventions needed to support the Convention Center and new hotel?  Perhaps the transition may be more “business as usual,” than a new normal governed by social distancing and mask-wearing with few risks for a rebirth of the pandemic.  Somehow, I doubt it.

Letter from LUTC Chair

This is a hard time to write a Land Use and Transportation update. Between the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the police murder of George Floyd, and the Portland police’s escalating tactics against protesters, it is hard to see anything but police reform and supporting our most vulnerable neighbors as the top priorities.

If you have the means, some ways to support the local Black community are to eat at Black owned restaurants (https://iloveblackfood.com/pdx-directory/) or support Black owned businesses (https://mercatuspdx.com/directory/black-owned-businesses). The Black Resilience Fund is accepting donations and giving funds directly to Black Portlanders in need (https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-black-resilience-fund).

Local non-profits that help our most vulnerable neighbors, like the Blanchet House (https://blanchethouse.org), are still accepting volunteers amid the COVID-19 crisis to help with meal service and preparation if you have available time and are not part of a high risk group in regard to COVID-19.

Please take care of each other and stay safe.

LUTC Meeting Minutes 2020-05-11

Attendees

Jessica & Dan –
Eliot & Vlasta –
Harrison & Lauren Osbourn- near williams & stanton
Full LUTC attendance: Allan, Brad, Jonathan, Phil

Discussion

Stanton street speeding-
more & more traffic, aggressive driving. noticing it more now that home all day.
complaints about drug activity around the park potentially fueling the speeding issues.
every day all day – 10-15 minutes between loud cars.
-will write a letter.
– board: greater safety issues in Dawson Park.
– drug dealing out of cars, other illegal behavior is becoming a major problem

2nd letter – Jonathan to write
we need to beef up our greenways – the existing things aren’t going to cut it.
lots of examples & ideas are out there.

Minutes approved from April
Motion to write both letters- approved 4-0.

Updates:
I-5 effort – monitoring
Rezone – Emanuel Lots east of Vancouver and St Philip the Deacon to CM3 proposed

Land Use and Climate Change

Climate change has been top of mind a lot for me recently. I used to think that individual consumption choices could help make a change, but recently I’ve adapted more of the mindset that we need to advocate for systemic changes that enable people to lead more sustainable lives and help make sustainable choices the default. Luckily, the city has been pushing for some land use and transportation policies recently that will help achieve more sustainable outcomes.

I’m personally excited about the Residential Infill Project. I will admit that it has flaws, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. At a high level, it ends the ban of building 2, 3, and 4 plexes in single family zoned lots. By allowing for the construction of higher density living arrangements, heating will be more efficient (less energy usage!), and transit, walking, and bicycling for daily errands become more viable (less fossil fuel consumption!). Another benefit is that the requirement for off-street parking is removed which will hopefully lead to more tree coverage as there will be fewer driveways and more space for trees. The city’s own analysis also showed that this proposal would decrease displacement in Eliot which is a huge win for the neighborhood.

Another policy proposal the city has recently put forth is the Rose Lane Project. The aim with this proposal is to get busses out of car traffic on the most utilized routes. By helping the bus move more quickly, we’ll be helping move people more quickly and we’ll make taking the bus a more viable alternative to driving for more people. The more people who choose taking the bus over driving leads to less emissions. This project will also benefit Eliot as some of the busses to be prioritized are the 6 on MLK and the 4/44 on Vancouver/Williams.

It’s an exciting time to be involved right now as a lot is changing and there are some projects that make me feel optimistic which can be hard to come by right now. If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to come to our Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee meetings on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at St Philip the Deacon.

Land Use and Climate Change

By Brad Baker, LUTC Chair

Climate change has been top of mind a lot for me recently. I used to think that individual consumption choices could help make a change, but recently I’ve adapted more of the mindset that we need to advocate for systemic changes that enable people to lead more sustainable lives and help make sustainable choices the default. Luckily, the city has been pushing for some land use and transportation policies recently that will help achieve more sustainable outcomes.

I’m personally excited about the Residential Infill Project. I will admit that it has flaws, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. At a high level, it ends the ban of building 2, 3, and 4 plexes in single family zoned lots. By allowing for the construction of higher density living arrangements, heating will be more efficient (less energy usage!), and transit, walking, and bicycling for daily errands become more viable (less fossil fuel consumption!). Another benefit is that the requirement for off-street parking is removed which will hopefully lead to more tree coverage as there will be fewer driveways and more space for trees. The city’s own analysis also showed that this proposal would decrease displacement in Eliot which is a huge win for the neighborhood.

Another policy proposal the city has recently put forth is the Rose Lane Project. The aim with this proposal is to get busses out of car traffic on the most utilized routes. By helping the bus move more quickly, we’ll be helping move people more quickly and we’ll make taking the bus a more viable alternative to driving for more people. The more people who choose taking the bus over driving leads to less emissions. This project will also benefit Eliot as some of the busses to be prioritized are the 6 on MLK and the 4/44 on Vancouver/Williams.

It’s an exciting time to be involved right now as a lot is changing and there are some projects that make me feel optimistic which can be hard to come by right now. If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to come to our Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee meetings on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at St Philip the Deacon.

CLT in the City: Using Cross-Laminated Timber for Infill Housing

My wife and I have provided rental housing in Eliot ever since we moved here 40 plus years ago.  Our intent then, as now, was to preserve Eliot’s older buildings threatened with demolition by developers who were, at best, clueless about the neighborhood’s origins and history.  One of these homes was at 19 NE Morris that was graced with a mature walnut tree that spread its branches across four adjacent properties.  We bought that property to protect the tree as the lot was zoned for multi-family units and was about to be sold to a developer.  After almost 30 years the house finally got to the point that it wasn’t economic to repair it and replacement required multiple units by code, so the house couldn’t be saved.  To save the tree, we were able to reduce the zoning code required number of new units from 6 to 4, which also allowed for a design like the adjacent townhomes (instead of the typical flat-roof modern box design).

I was Chair or a member of the Eliot Land Use Committee for multiple years.  A common complaint we heard from neighbors was that new development typically resulted in contractors blocking parking and sidewalks for months on end, which is a great inconvenience in Eliot.  I vowed to reduce neighbor conflict like this to a minimum by using construction methods that were faster than conventional “stick framing” that requires large numbers of workers.  This led to the selection of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that are quickly erected with a crane.  Eliot has a couple of multi-story CLT buildings so the technique isn’t new, but the use of CLTs for a smaller building was new, mostly because it is more expensive than conventional stick framing.  I thought the trade-off between construction speed and cost was worth it to avoid the prolonged inconvenience of neighbors.   

Erecting CLT walls – end of day one at 19 NE Morris. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

The process for our project was simple in concept.  Provide a concrete slab foundation for the CLT panels, erect the panels using a crane, and finish construction using conventional contractors for electrical, plumbing, finish, etc.  The concrete was poured at the end of October.  The panels came from Austria, which has decades of experience with CLTs; consequently, they are better quality and less expensive than locally made ones, even with the shipping.  Plus, they meet the higher European standards for chemicals in the glue and the sustainability of the wood.  They arrived in November.  Erection was scheduled for mid- to late-December but waiting until after Christmas was favored by the construction crews.  Unfortunately, that was just about the last dry period we had for construction!

Three weeks from start of construction. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

Part of the street was closed to public parking as was the sidewalk for two weeks starting January 21st.  The first panels were lifted into place by a very large mobile crane on the 22nd.  Panels continued to be installed for two more days and the crew got a couple of workdays to play catch up.  The crane returned the 28th and the final panel was placed at 4 PM the 29th.  Five days to erect the building shell and only two weeks of parking restrictions.  Unfortunately, the Park Department’s required “tree protection zone” around the lone street tree will keep the sidewalk closed for the duration of construction.  The roof trusses were installed in the first week of February, so the building shell was essentially complete in three, very rainy, weeks!  The shell was ready for siding and roofing the first week of March.  Finishing construction will take a while longer to coordinate among the different building trades.  The result will be four, new 2-bedroom townhomes in place of the original 2-bedroom home. 

Day five – final day of panel erection. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

Allen Flowers Houses – Lost to Development… Score Another Point for Cars

By Monique Gaskins

Until last summer, two Victorian houses, both built by a Black family, stood near the southern border of the Eliot neighborhood. Allen and Louisa Flowers built and owned these houses, which may have been the oldest standing houses built by Black people in Portland. The buildings had initially been part of a larger group of identical houses built by the Flowers family in 1885, but one of the other homes had been demolished in favor of a Ford owned parking lot in the 1970s. In an ironic example of history repeating itself, OB Portland Properties LLC – according to Portland Maps the same group that owns the land under the Broadway Toyota Dealership – bought and demolished the remaining houses in 2019. Presumably, these houses will also become a parking lot or some other car-focused infrastructure.

Although many of our cities’ streets and parks bear the name of previous residents, I hadn’t heard of the Flowers family until a neighbor mentioned that we were losing an important part of Portland history with these houses. Allen Flowers moved to Portland in 1865 after jumping ship from the Brother Jonathon where he’d been employed. Mr. Flowers became a porter for the Portland to Seattle route of the Northern Pacific Railroad and later married Louisa. Mrs. Flowers moved to Portland from Boston in 1882 after marrying Allen. At this time, Portland’s Black community numbered fewer than 500 members, which is not too surprising given contemporary politics. Oregon’s citizens included a Black exclusion law in their 1857 constitution, paving the way for Oregon to enter the Union in 1859 as a “whites-only” state. It wasn’t until 1959, that Oregon officially ratified the 15th amendment, allowing all people the right to vote, regardless of their race.

Ralph Flowers, son of Allen and Louisa Flowers, his wife Ruth Flowers and their son Clifford in front of the Flowers houses circa 1920. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

In this environment, the Flowers family built their version of the American dream. They maintained a farm near Mount Scott which became a hub for Black Portlanders and they were active members of their church. Allen Flowers developed NE Schuyler Street, supposedly to provide the only through street to the river for Louisa and their baby stroller. Louisa became a founding member of the Williams WMCA (now the Billy Elks Lodge) and active in the NAACP. The Flowers demonstrated leadership and compassion while living in a city that didn’t always welcome them. The Flowers family seemed like they would have been ideal neighbors.

The site of the former Flowers houses is designated as a Commercial Mixed-Use 3 zone. According to Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, land with this designation should have buildings that are six stories high and are intended to be pedestrian oriented. For a civic minded family with a history of pedestrian improvements, increasing walking accessible housing seems like a potential extension of the Flowers legacy. However, since the current buyer’s portfolio includes a car dealership on the neighboring property, it isn’t likely that these sites will provide homes for new neighbors or pedestrian focused infrastructure.

After some thoughtful research, Home Forward, Portland’s housing agency, named its newest site the Louisa Flowers. Financed by low-income housing tax-credits, the building provides 240 affordable apartments and honors the impact that Mrs. Flowers had on Portland. Although the Flowers houses no longer exist in Eliot, The Louisa Flowers building continues the family’s work towards building a more welcoming Portland.

The Loss of the Allen Flowers Houses: The Oldest Black-Built Known in Portland

The Allen Flowers Houses 1803, 1811 1815 NE 1st Avenue, circa 1885. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

There were three small old houses inside our wonderful Eliot neighborhood that were demolished quickly last fall in a peculiar quiet fashion and not to the notice of most of our residents.  Well, this rapid and hasty act appears to be deliberate and turns out to be a tragedy for our neighborhood and diverse cultural history.  At this time, the author is not clear on the details of what happened on the west side of the block of NE 1st Avenue between Broadway and Hancock Streets on that late fall day back in 2019.  What happened may not be the total blame to the developer and much of it rests on the City of Portland and their policies that severely lack an incentive for historic preservation.  What is a bigger travesty is that these houses may only be replaced by a parking lot to serve the Toyota dealership on this block. 

As of until recently, these 3 houses were owned by Pauline Bradford, a long-time resident of the Eliot neighborhood since 1945 who was very active for many years in the Eliot Neighborhood Association.  She was a critical force in trying to make our neighborhood a better place for residents and made an impact on thwarting much adverse development.  She was also one of the longest living African-American residents of our neighborhood and worked hard to help improve the living standards and rights of black residents.  She also was a strong force in helping put together an inventory of buildings significant in African-American history back in the 1990s that was backed by the Bosco-Milligan Foundation (now Architectural Heritage Center).  Known by the author for many years, she mentioned the many times that there were strong efforts by the property owners of the dealership (formerly Coliseum Ford) to pressure her and her husband in selling as far back as the 1970s.  Sadly, since the 1970s, adjacent houses all around them were gobbled up as the building and parking lots were expanded.  Now the entire block that goes west to N Victoria and north to Hancock may be completely in their ownership.  It is not known if Mrs. Bradford recently passed away or relocated for health or other reasons.  The last time the author made personal contact with her was in late 2017.  The destruction was swift, and apparently, no parts of the houses were even salvaged or recycled.  It is possible the owner(s) knew of the great historic significance of two of these houses as being associated with Allen Flowers, one of the first African-Americans who came to Portland and stayed.  It is also tragic that the small houses could have been relocated in the general proximity at not too high of a cost due to their smaller size.  Recent tax-break economic incentives by the Federal government to encourage rehabilitation of historic buildings would have made it sustainable and economically practical.  There are many young ambitious homeowners to-be in the community and investors that would have been interested to save these houses and taken it on in short order.  It could be that the new ownership acted on panic.

Now backing things up to the 1800s, Allen Flowers came to Portland in 1865 by jumping ship from a steamship where he was employed when it docked here.  He managed to get by with many service-oriented jobs including the Lincoln Hotel in lower NW Portland for a number of years.  Later, he became an operator for ships that delivered goods up and down the Columbia River and managed to secure a homestead in the Mount Scott vicinity.  In 1884 and 85, he had a wife Louisa M. and purchased 2 lots in Elizabeth Irving’s First Addition of East Portland, now the block with the dealership on it.  Interestingly at this early date, people of color were not excluded from purchasing at this location.  He commenced construction of 3 houses, for his own new family and other relatives. Flowers chose this location due to his new occupation as a porter-in-charge for the Northern Pacific Railroad between Portland and Seattle.  He remained in one of these houses for the remainder of his long life until 1934.  He had 4 sons who also lived in these 3 houses with their families.  One of his sons, Ervin M. Flowers remained and became the president of the NAACP during the 1920s.  The entire family was very instrumental in improving the lives of black residents of Portland and their success in business and careers was also a motivating factor for encouragement to others. 

At the present time, it is apparent that the two Flowers Houses that stood here were the oldest known in all of Portland that were black-built.  In the historic photo taken just before 1900, all three are clear and very similar.  Two of these remained until recently. It is a possibility that there could be a few other survivors of near the 1885 vintage in the general close-in North Portland proximity that are still unknown that could have been moved to other locations during the course of the 20th Century.  So far, research has not produced anything known.  It was discovered by the author back in the 1990s that the decorative Queen-Anne style cottage that stood at 1745 NE 1st Avenue was built in 1888 by James Curran in McMillens Addition to East Portland and moved to this spot in 1910 due to construction of an apartment building.  McMillens Addition also allowed people of color and Chinese to purchase and build. That replacement building was torn down in 1960 along with many adjacent structures, for construction of Memorial Coliseum. Pauline Bradford lived in this house since 1979 and the interior was adorned with gorgeous woodwork and very tall ceilings and was in excellent condition.  This was such a waste that we residents hope to never see happen again in our diverse neighborhood and a loss of a cultural resource that cannot be replaced. A tidbit from the book “The History of Albina”, available at Powell’s Books downtown and Broadway Books at NE 17th.

Joseph M. Manning Cottage: Historic Home on the Move… Hopefully

Another historic home may be on the move in Eliot soon.  The property at 2316 N Vancouver has been sold and the Joseph M. Manning Cottage is slated for demolition unless it can be moved soon. The developer is open to the idea of moving the house and a few people who have an interest in the house’s future are working to make that happen.  More in our summer issue on this, but for now, a little history about the home, built in 1892, from The History of Albina by Roy Roos.

Joseph M Manning cottage which is slated for demolition or relocation prior to development of a five story multi-family residential building. Photo credit Sue Stringer

“This Queen Anne cottage was moved to this location in 1949 and was previously located at 2307 N Flint, where now Harriet Tubman Middle School and Albina-Lillis Park is. Joseph M. Manning, the original owner and builder, was a street grading contractor. By 1898, he formed a partnership with William Lind as general contractors that lasted until about 1904. Manning independently returned to street grading which he continued until retirement. After this house was moved it was owned and occupied by Perry and Della Coleman. Mr. Coleman was employed by Union Pacific and African- American. After his death, Della remarried to Reverand Otha W. Warren, pastor of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in 1962.”