Lost Portland

Main Dinning Room, Hotel Portland, Portland, ORE.

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At the turn of the 19th century, Portland was still the metropolis of the Pacific Northwest, and its buildings reflected a sense of urban grandeur rivaling the great cities of North America. As the twentieth century progressed, many of these buildings fell victim to changing needs, economic imperatives, and a growing decentralization of urban life.

While the Oregon Historical Society’s Davies Family Research Library holds thousands of images of lost Portland, few are so evocative of the city’s past grandeur as these postcards, created from re-touched and hand-colored photographs.

Exhibit curated by OHS Library Director Geoff Wexler, with postcards from Org. Lot 146, OHS Research Library. Many thanks to Donald R. Nelson for valuable information.

The Oregonian Building
1892-1950

The Oregonian Building
1892-1950

As the headquarters of the region's most important newspaper, the red sandstone Oregonian building loomed over the corner of SW 6th Avenue and Alder Street for over half a century. It was designed by the firm of Reid and Reid.

Hotel Perkins
1891-1962

Hotel Perkins
1891-1962

Located on the corner of SW 5th Ave. and Washington St., the Perkins hotel was built by cattle rancher Richard Perkins and featured a golden steer in its tower. The site is now occupied by a branch of Key Bank.

Hotel Perkins
1891-1962

Hotel Perkins
1891-1962

Underground barbershop of the Perkins Hotel.

Public Auditorium
1917-1966

Public Auditorium
1917-1966

Located on the block bounded by SW Clay, Market, 2nd and 3rd Avenues, the Auditorium was the largest venue in Portland for many decades. It hosted numerous conventions, lectures, concerts, and banquets, and served as the quarantine barracks during the 1917 influenza epidemic. It was also the home of the Oregon Historical Society from 1917 to 1965. In 1966 the auditorium was completely reconstructed and is now the Keller Auditorium.

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Located in the block that is now Pioneer Courthouse Square (bounded by SW Broadway, 6th Ave., Yamhill, and Morrison Streets) the Portland Hotel was the center of the city’s social life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It hosted kings and presidents and an array of important events. Begun in 1883 by railroad magnate Henry Villard, the construction was halted shortly thereafter due to financial difficulties. But the project was resuscitated with local capital and the hotel opened finally in 1890. Then, after decades of prominence, the once-elegant Portland was eclipsed by newer and more pretentious hostelries. In 1951 it was demolished and replaced by a parking structure.

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

The main dining room of the hotel – once the most elegant restaurant in the city.

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Portland Hotel
1890-1951

Chamber of Commerce Building
1892-1933

Chamber of Commerce Building
1892-1933

The ill-fated Chamber of Commerce Building was located on SW Stark Street between SW 3rd and 4th Avenues. It was built in 1892 with high hopes for financial return. But the panic of 1893 resulted in a defaulted mortgage, and a fire in 1906 seriously damaged the structure. It was eventually purchased by the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway Company, which decided to demolish it in 1933 rather than expend funds for costly renovations. The site was used as a parking lot for the next 70 years.

Y.M.C.A. Building
1909-1978

Y.M.C.A. Building
1909-1978

The Y.M.C.A. Building was a long-time Portland fixture at SW 6th Avenue and Taylor Street. When finished in 1909, it featured classrooms, laboratories, workshops, 2 gymnasiums, handball courts, a swimming pool, and residence rooms for 200 men. In 1978, despite protests led by city commissioner Mildred Schwab, the building was demolished to make way for offices of Pacific First Federal Savings and Loan Association.


Y.W.C.A Building
1908-1959

Y.W.C.A Building
1908-1959

After fifty years in this building at SW Taylor and Broadway, the YWCA moved to a new home at SW 10th Avenue and Main Street.  The old building was demolished the following year and replaced with a parking lot.

Good Samaritan Hospital
1900-1976

Good Samaritan Hospital
1900-1976

Designed by the local firm of Whidden and Lewis, this massive red brick edifice formed the core of an ever-expanding hospital complex on NW 23rd Avenue between Lovejoy and Marshall Streets. It was razed in 1976 to make way for a new wing of the hospital.

Multnomah Athletic Club
1900-1910

Multnomah Athletic Club
1900-1910

Located near what is now the southwest corner of SW 18th Ave. and Morrison Street, the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club included a large playing field to the west, which later evolved into Multnomah Stadium and is now (2015) Providence Park. The building in this picture was destroyed by fire in 1910, and the following year the club opened an elegant new edifice around the corner on SW Salmon, designed by noted architect Morris Whitehouse. That structure was replaced beginning in the late 1960s with the present MAC Club building.

Temple Beth Israel
1888-1923

Temple Beth Israel
1888-1923

The second home of the region's largest Jewish congregation, the Beth Israel Synagogue commanded the southwest corner of SW 12th Avenue and Main Street, across the street from the present-day First Unitarian Church. It was designed by Warren H. Williams and combined Moorish and Byzantine motifs in a complex wooden structure. After the temple burned in a dramatic arson fire in 1923, the congregation relocated to its present home on NW Flanders and 19th, a magnificent building designed by the Morris Whitehouse firm.


Elks Club Building 1906-1923

Elks Club Building
1906-1923

The local Elks Club had operated out of rented quarters before its members constructed this expensive and elegant building on the northeast corner of SW Broadway and Stark. It included a ballroom, billiard room, grill room, and one of the largest elevators in the city at the time. It lasted only 17 years and was razed to make way for the expansion of the U.S. National Bank next door. The Club then moved to an even larger and more elaborate building at SW 11th and Alder.


Elks Club Building
1906-1923

Elks Club Building
1906-1923

Smoking Room of the Elks Club.

Hotel Carlton
1911-1965

Hotel Carlton
1911-1965

Designed by the firm of Mcnaughton and Raymond, the Hotel Carleton was located on SW 14th Ave. between SW Washington and West Burnside streets. It featured expensive furniture from the local Gevurtz firm (some covered in imported Spanish leather), mahogany woodwork and a sophisticated ventilation system. Considered one of the finest hostelries in the city, it was demolished in 1965 to make way for the I-405 freeway.

In this postcard of the hotel's exterior, the publisher has exaggerated the building's size by adding three additional bays on each side.

Hotel Carlton
1911-1965

Hotel Carlton
1911-1965

Lobby of the hotel, featuring a forest of potted palms and an ample number of spittoons.


Meier and Frank Department Store
1898-1913

Meier and Frank Department Store
1898-1913

The Meier and Frank Company evolved from a shop opened on Front Street by Aaron Meier in 1857. After expansion to larger quarters on SW 1st and Taylor, the firm moved uptown to a more fashionable address at SW 5th and Morrison. There they built their new headquarters in 1898, designed by the local firm of Whidden and Lewis. But the success of Meier and Frank meant more expansion, and after building an annex in 1907 they demolished the 1898 structure in 1913 and replaced it  with a new 16-story store designed by A. E. Doyle and completed in 1915. Further additions were made in the early 1930s, which filled the entire block.

This postcard also depicts the nearby Portland hotel, demolished in 1951 and replaced by a Meier & Frank's parking structure.

Heilig Theatre
1910-1997

Heilig Theatre
1910-1997

As the city's premier venue for the performing arts, the Heilig was located on the northwest corner of SW Broadway and Taylor Street. It hosted internationally-acclaimed celebrities such as violinist Jascha Heifitz, actress Ethel Barrymore, dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. It was designed by architect E.W. Houghton and could seat up to 1500 people. Eclipsed by other venues, the Heilig evolved into a movie theater in the 1920's, when it became the Hippodrome, and later the Rialto, the Music Box, and the Mayfair. It was completely renovated in the early 1950s and re-opened as the Fox Theatre in 1954. The building lasted until 1997, when it was demolished to make way for the present Fox Tower.

Portland High School
1885-1928

Portland High School
1885-1928

This magnificent confection sat prominently on the corner of SW 14th Avenue and Morrison Street. Originally called simply "The High School," it became Lincoln High School in 1909. In 1911 the school moved to new quarters on the South Park Blocks (now present-day Lincoln Hall of PSU) and the older building became Girl's Polytechnic. It was demolished in 1928, and the site served primarily as a parking lot until 1957, when the First National Bank built the stark international-style building that is now called the Morrison Plaza.

Public Library
1893-1913

Public Library
1893-1913

Operated by the Library Association of Portland, this vaguely Romanesque building was located on the southwest corner of SW Stark and Broadway. The Library Association, founded in 1864, was a private membership organization, but when it merged with the Portland Public Library in 1902 its collections were open to the public free of charge. In 1913 the library moved to larger and more palatial quarters in the present Multnomah County Central Library on SW 10th Avenue, between Yamhill and Taylor. That year the old library was demolished and replaced with a movie theater, the Orpheum (later the Liberty), completed in 1914 and itself demolished in 1959.

Marquam Building
1891-1913

Marquam Building
1891-1913

Now the site of the American Bank Building on SW Morrison Street, across from Pioneer Courthouse Square, the imposing Romanesque Marquam Building contained offices, stores, and an ornate opera house. Despite its solid appearance it was poorly built with defective materials, and when renovations were attempted in 1912 the entire east wall of the building collapsed.

Multnomah County Courthouse
1866-1911

Multnomah County Courthouse
1866-1911

A magnificent building for a small frontier city, the Multnomah County Courthouse was completed in 1866 and located in the block bounded by SW 4th and 5th Avenues, and Main and Salmon Streets. It boasted a 106-foot dome and a bas-relief of Abraham Lincoln carved over the front door. But the burgeoning county soon outgrew its courthouse, and beginning in 1911 it was demolished to make way for the present building, completed in 1914.

East Side High School
1907-1922

East Side High School
1907-1922

Representative of the growing importance of Portland's east side at the turn of the 20th century, east side high school (renamed Washington High school in 1909) rivaled Portland High School (later Lincoln High) as one of the city's largest secondary schools. Opened in 1907 and located between SE 13th and 14th Avenues and Stark Street, the construction was delayed by cost overruns and shortages of materials. It was destroyed by fire in 1922 and replaced with the present building, which is now a New Seasons market.

Portland academy
1896-1961

Portland Academy
1896-1961

The most prestigious private boys' school in the city, Portland Academy was located at SW 13th Avenue and Montgomery Street on land donated by local magnates William S. Ladd and Henry W. Corbett. The school closed in 1916, but remnants of its programs were later absorbed into Catlin Gabel School. After serving as the home of St. Helens Hall, the building was demolished in 1965 to make way for the I-405 freeway.