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”).
Portland’s history (and present) is riddled with stories of housing discrimination. However, when we discuss the history of clearing out predominantly Black neighborhoods to make way for things like the I5 Freeway, Memorial Coliseum, and Emanuel Hospital, or the systemic practice of redlining, it’s often through the prism of broader narratives and statistics. As a result, many of the individual stories get lost.
The Eliot neighborhood may soon be losing an historic resource, a cute house with a unique curved front porch connected to a man who dedicated much of his life to the community over one hundred years ago. The house now at 206 NE Sacramento Street is a little bit tucked away behind shrubbery on a double-sized lot and proposed to be replaced by bland modern higher density housing. The current owner, Danielle Isenhart of Emerio Design based in Beaverton, filed a demolition permit earlier this spring and was approved on May 4th. The one condition posed by the city was a demolition delay of 120 days to provide a possible alternative to the destruction of a historic resource.
You can help stop the demolition of 206 NE Sacramento and its urban forest garden. The surrounding community is organizing a petition and appeal to save this historic house and edible forest garden from proposed development.
In a season already fraught with bad news – Arkansas executions, skyrocketing arms sales, more black teenagers shot by police – a page-8 headline in the last issue of Eliot News stopped me cold: “Major Expansion Project Planned for Legacy Emanuel Medical Center Campus.” For me, those 10 words echoed the hospital “expansion” that dismantled the last of Eliot’s African-American community, 44 years ago.
Yet another perfectly good home in Eliot Neighborhood now sits in rubble after it was demolished yesterday. The 125 year old home at 623 NE Thompson was ripped down, forever erasing it from the neighborhood.
Another historic single family home in Eliot was demolished back in July. At the same time the large old trees were removed leaving a flat, barren lot. The house sat at 2318 NE Rodney and according to a neighbor was occupied by the same family for a very very long time. It had fallen into disrepair over the last 25 or so years. However, like most houses that have been erased from the neighborhood, it is very likely it could have been salvaged and restored into a great starter home for a new family.
As required by the Portland Zoning Code, Architect Rich Brooks, CIDA and developer Ben McInnis, BENCO initiated contact with the Eliot Land Use and Transportation Committee and presented their plans to build a 5-story micro unit apartment building at 3116 N. Vancouver Ave. The building with a footprint of 36’x44’ will have eighteen 250 sq ft micro apartments expected to rent at between $866 – $898/ unit.
One house, two house, red house blue house, both will be gone soon. The two houses on Cook near Vancouver are slated to be demolished, forever erasing 110 years of history in the neighborhood.
The Albina Building 1927
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”.
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.
All around Portland signs are showing up in front yards with the purpose of stopping the demolition of Portland homes. With the upturn in the economy developers are in full swing looking for any opportunity they can to tear down a house and build something new. Now is the time for residents to act to save our historic homes.
In October 2012, developer Andre Kashuba purchased the Historic Rayworth House property located at 3605 N Albina in the nearby Boise neighborhood. He immediately filed plans with the city to demolish the existing 1890 single-family house and construct two attached larger homes on the lot. Around November, the city granted approval with a new proposed lot line splitting the property down the middle. In recent years, it has been a primary goal to encourage increased population density in close-in neighborhoods. Even though the Rayworth House is in the middle of a block of single-family homes between N Fremont and N Beech, most of the area is zoned for two families per lot, which explains the short of approval time by the city.
The Edwin Rayworth House
Another historic home in the Boise neighborhood nearby Eliot at 3605 N Albina is slated for demolition. A developer from Lake Oswego intends to replace this classic vintage home with a bland modern 2-family structure with a property split down the middle of the lot. This Queen Anne styled home is not a fancy Victorian era mansion but a decorative cottage, typical for a middle-classed resident in 1890. At the time this house was built, the Eliot, Boise, and King neighborhoods were within the limits of the City of Albina, consolidated by the City of Portland one year later.
Aerial View of Eliot Neighborhood 1955
Houses, houses, houses! In 1955 houses dominated the landscape in Eliot. This view of Eliot from above was taken as part of a larger photo of the downtown area. The image shows the neighborhood before the massive changes that came in the 60’s and 70’s. Memorial Coliseum had not yet been built, I-5 had not yet tore through the neighborhood, the Emanual Hospital campus had not yet sprawled into the neighborhood and Fremont was just a street (not quite in the picture) and not also a bridge. Also worth noticing, Lower Albina still had homes, Albina park was square, the grid pattern covered most of the area, and the now vacant lots around Russell near Williams and Vancouver had buildings.