Architectural History

Dear Liza,

Architectural history is a fancy term that means studying old buildings. Portland has been building since 1845, so there have been lots of buildings. Some have been torn down for new buildings, freeways, or parking lots. Some, being made of wood,  have burned or been damaged by floods on the Willamette River. But many if them are still standing.

This guy used to help hold up a building

On Saturday, Grandpa Nelson and I walked about a mile to SE 7th and Grand Streets, to the Architectural Heritage Center. This is a group of people dedicated to saving old buildings, or at least pieces of them. Inside were statues, windows, and decorations from many buildings that had been torn down.

She was over the door of the old Ladd Building

There we also photographs of these buildings along Front Street  taken by Minor White. This area had been a busy and very prosperous part of the city at the turn of the century, and many of the buildings were made of cast iron, which was the newest way to build.

Cast iron is strong, durable, and can be made with incredible detail. Delicate curves and flowers were cast into the pillars that weighed tons and held up 10 story buildings.

Stained glass window saved from Richard B. Knapp House

But in the 1930s and 1940s, these buildings needed to come down to make room for a new highway, and the city wanted to record them properly before they did. The city hired Minor White, a famous photographer, to make portraits of the buildings. These lovely photographs are  on display. The photos were beautiful and showed so much detail, but they were also sad, like pictures of someone you love who has died. But we also learned there are still about 50 buildings that use cast iron, including the very nifty New Market Theater Building (which isn’t new at all, but very old).

Minor White’s self portrait with arches

After we had looked and talked and learned, it was time to start home. Grandpa Nelson knew of a new cider house on Belmont Street, on land where they used to keep goats. We walked and walked, figured out we were on Morrison and not Belmont, turned around, walked some more, and finally found the Schilling Cider House for a snack and a cider. It was tasty.

Bubble Man outside the Schilling Cider House

We also learned something new. This is a restaurant that does not take cash money. It is a “card only” pub. I didn’t know this was even legal! On our dollar bills it says “For all debts, public and private”. But it turns out, states can make laws that allow businesses to only take credit cards. Weird. I guess in some cases, money CAN’T buy you love (in the form of cider, anyway…)

We finished our snack, walked home and napped, and met with Auntie Katie for pizza at Dov Vivi. It was so good! Corn meal pizza crust with veggie toppings….sweet and filling. Then home for chat and finally to sleep. What a long, learning, exhausting day!


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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