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.
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.
New residents to Northeast Portland may not know that Williams Avenue in the 1960’s was very different than the Williams Avenue of today. In 2015 we posted an article from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. This is an update to that article.
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.
“Just call me Darcelle,” says the new Guinness Book of World Records holder as we get started with our interview. Darcelle, born Walter Cole, has brought fame to our Eliot neighborhood and the city of Portland in the form of a world record for being the world’s oldest, still performing Drag Queen. However, before he was Darcelle XV, Cole was an entrepreneur. His business ventures survived urban renewal multiple times in rapidly changing city.
The Eliot Neighborhood Plan is going to be updated after 22 years. Last time it was completed, Eliot was scheduled to get a water taxi stop. What does the future hold for our piece of shoreline on the Willamette River now?