Once we found our way into town and parked, we got to know Multnomah Village better.
It was founded way back in the 1910s as a town south of Portland as a stop on the Oregon Electric Railroad. The city had a school, post office, grocery store, hardware stores, all the things a town needs. But in 1950, it was annexed (that means swallowed up) by the rapidly growing city of Portland.
Many of the old buildings are still there, and the whole place (now called Multnomah Village) has been designated as a Historic Landmark, which means the buildings must be kept in their historic condition.
We accidentally had arrived on their special Earth Day celebration! There were activities at the Neighborhood House with people making birdhouses, music at the small town plaza, and lots of folks out visiting and strolling.
But before anything, we needed lunch. We stopped at Fat City, an old fashioned diner that has been in this same location and run by the Johnson family since 1976. The decor is a hypnotizing collage of license plates, street signs, and, well, just about everything.
It was busy and pleasant, with most of the folks knowing each other. The menu was standard diner fare, and tasty enough. We mostly enjoyed looking at everything while keeping starvation at bay.
We continued down the street to Annie’s Books, a store called ComeUnity, which supports local artists and donates to food banks, and more people watching. The plant shop was giving away seedlings, and Auntie Bridgett snagged me a replacement cucumber for my slug-eaten ones. They will go into the garden Monday.
And then we hit the jackpot! The Multnomah Arts Center has been developed from the elementary school of the old town of Multnomah. The school was started 1913 but soon became too small for the growing population. The expanded building was taken over by the city in 1979 and has been run as the Arts Center ever since. The Center has dozens of art, craft, drama, and music teachers. They teach hundreds of classes a year!
The beautifully decorated school is the perfect location for this sort of community focused art center. Each type of art has space for its special equipment, like 19 throwing wheels and 7 kilns for the ceramics classes and two entire rooms full of looms for the textile classes.
The murals which cover the walls above the doors speak of the community involvement. The murals were designed by Aimee Erikson and drawn and painted on canvas by over 700 volunteers, then hung like wallpaper. The cohesive, charming style put me at ease right away. I want to come take classes here!
Once we had walked all over the Arts Center, we were pooped and it was time to had home. But I will be back.