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Local baker and old building-lover Jeff Smalley dropped us a note this week to let us know of sad and pointless damage to the property he is developing at the former Wilshire Market near the corner of NE Fremont and Alameda. You’ll recall that Jeff is the creative force behind Fire and Stone, the new cafe that is transforming this 1923 commercial building.

When we met Jeff a few weeks back, he was going out of his way to protect and to showcase the historic window–clearly a time traveler from an earlier day–that marked the location of Padrow’s Pharmacy. He liked the vintage look and feel of the window, and after all it has been there for a couple generations.

But on a night this past week, someone spray painted the window. Because the historic window was originally painted on the outside, this senseless act has irreparably damaged the surface. Aside from being completely disgusted about this development, Jeff reports that he has video surveillance in place now throughout the construction site and is ready to pursue and prosecute further vandalism. As for the window, its future does not look good.

 

 

These fall evenings are perfect for a walk through the neighborhood. We’d like to suggest three great ones next time you’re looking for a good excuse to stretch your legs, and a free group walk we’ve learned about that is part of Walktober that might be fun too. Let’s start with that one, because it’s tied to the calendar: Sunday, October 26th to be exact.

History walker, biker and Urban Adventure League founder Shawn Granton is leading a walk up and down the many staircases that traverse the Alameda Ridge. Shawn writes that walkers will gather at Case Study Coffee, 5347 NE Sandy at 4:30 that Saturday afternoon. Here’s what he says about the Alameda Stairs Walktober event:

The Alameda Ridge is a glacial feature running through Northeast. There are many stairways along the ridge, many built during the streetcar era when people on the ridge needed easy access to the lower lands to catch transit or just to shop. Many of them are tucked away between houses, and are not easy to spot, at least if you aren’t looking. We’ll follow the ridge and explore as many of these staircases as we can! Please note that we’ll be out a little after dark, and we’ll end at a spot where we can get food and adult beverages.

For more information on Shawn’s Alameda Staircase walk, visit his blog.

Now here are three of our favorite walks that make for a good break after dinner (or before breakfast). Click on the link below for more information

Broadway Streetcar Walk: This 3.1 mile loop will have you tracing the path of the Broadway Streetcar that served Alameda for generations. Consider printing the pictures and bringing them along to line up in the footsteps of history.

Pearson Dairy Farm Walk: It’s gone now, but the old Pearson farm defined the landscape of this area just before the turn of the 20th century. This .6 mile walk will trace the outlines of the farm and put you in touch with some landmarks you might not have known existed.

Alameda Park Plat Perimeter Walk: This 2.45 mile walk will take you all the way around the perimeter of the original Alameda Park plat. Bring the plat map along, and pay attention to the interesting alignments on the west edge of the neighborhood.

 

9-20-14 Storefronts 1

The former Marble Palace Grocery and Market building (later known as Prescott Foods), 3587 NE Prescott, has recently been restored and is now alive and well as an art studio.

While looking into the history of the Wilshire Market building, we’ve become interested in the grocery and market world of years gone past.

In a day when large supermarkets did not exist, mom-and-pop stores were everywhere on the eastside. So were butcher shops, bakeries, and candy stores. A quick look at Portland’s business directory for 1931 lists more than 750 individual grocery stores, most of them owned and operated by families.

Here in the Alameda Park Addition, commercial development was prohibited. But just beyond our borders, small business was booming.

In past posts here on the blog, we’ve explored a few of those places, including Hunderups, at NE 29th and Prescott (today’s Food King Market); Alameda Grocery (today’s corner of NE 24th and Fremont); Davis Dairy Store at NE 30th and Killingsworth; and Grant Park Grocery at NE 33rd and Knott.

Here’s a look at three more markets, all of them clustered close together near NE 33rd and Prescott. We’re interested in hearing memories about these places or finding photos from the past. Can you help?

 

3133 NE Prescott (Bradford’s Market; Serv-Us Grocery)

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Today it’s the Community Health Center, an acupuncture and Chinese medicine office, but it started out as a store. Ever noticed the parking lot just west of the building, making it perfect for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread on the way home? Built in 1921 as a grocery, this building was known for most of its life as Bradford’s Market, operated by Paul and Bernice Bradford from the mid-1920s until the mid-1950s. The Bradfords lived in Alameda at NE 30th and Mason (nice commute). Following its long run as Bradford’s, the store was known briefly as the Serv-Us Grocery, owned by Roy and Hazel Turnbaugh. From the early 1960s until the late 1970s, the building was the dental office of Dr. Herman Reisbick. Most recently, before becoming an acupuncture office, it’s been a barber shop and hair salon.

 

3587 NE Prescott (Marble Palace Grocery; Prescott Foods)

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This is a notable building today with its fresh coat of black paint and recent makeover as an arts studio (Affiche Studio). And it’s been memorable in the recent past, as an upholstery business with a bright blue paint job.

This handsome one-story brick structure was built in 1924 by Joe Dellasin, and was operated in its early years as the Marble Palace Grocery and Market by George A. Peters, who owned another market by the same name near NE 15th and Fremont. Several proprietors ran it through the 1930s and 1940s before it became Prescott Foods, the name that stuck with the business through multiple mom-and-pop owners up until the mid 1980s (Loomis, Breshears, Dickerman, Patrick and Wallis). Grace and Earl Dickerman ran the business from 1948 until 1966 when they sold it and bought a small hardware store on SE Hawthorne. By 1985 the building had succumbed to the changing grocery shopping patterns of nearby residents (like most other small neighborhood groceries), and it became an upholstery shop, which it served as until 2012 when Affiche Studios moved in and fixed it up.

 

4518 NE 32nd Ave. (Thirty Second Street Grocery; Smith’s Cash Grocery)

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This one is an oldie: 1910. We haven’t yet been able to determine its business name prior to 1930, but by then it was known as Thirty Second Street Grocery, operated by Henry C. Parker. In the 1930s, it was owned by the Skoog family, which owned and operated other markets in Portland. In 1940, it was well established as Smith’s Cash Grocery, a name that stuck into the late 1950s.

One local resident remembers this place in the 1950s as Doc’s Market, and can recall going in as a very young person saying “Hi Doc!” to the shopkeeper (who he remembers as having a flat-top haircut and a big smile). Grove M. Smith was the proprietor all those years, and probably was the “Doc” behind the counter.

City directories show the building as being vacant from the 1960s until recently, when it was transformed into an arts studio called FalseFront Studio.

We’d love to learn more about these buildings, see pictures of their earlier selves, or connect with family members of past owners. We’ll share what we learn, and will keep plugging along with research on several other storefronts nearby.

We’ve been watching with interest as the remodel work progresses at Wilshire Market (3707 NE Fremont). The term remodel might be a bit modest for the amount of work going on there, stripping the building back to its barest bones, but keeping some of its most interesting aspects.

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Remodel might also imply that it’s going to continue being Wilshire Market, which we know not to be the case. Business owner Jeff Smalley is in the process of transforming the building into Fire and Stone, a wood-fired bakery and café. As a nearby neighbor, we’re looking forward to that part, as well as being able to see and appreciate some of the original components of the building.

We dropped in for a visit with Jeff this week and were amazed at what we saw, and at his vision for the new business.

First, about the building.

Built in 1923 as the Wilshire Grocery and Market Inc. by partners Solomon N. Barrigar and Albert P. Mumler, the business name has essentially stayed the same, but the building has had a few facelifts.

The front door, which we believe originally faced the corner, has moved around a bit. When deconstructing, Jeff and his carpenters found clues to other doorways: one in the middle of the south wall; the one that has been most recently used near the southeast corner; and a separate entrance in the northwest corner associated with a small pharmacy.

9-13-14 Corner

The once and future entrance at the corner of NE Alameda and Fremont. What was the original entrance to Wilshire Grocery and Market, will be the main entry to the new restaurant Fire and Stone, opening this fall.

The pharmacy has left another big clue: the window on the west side of the building, which you can see to the far left in the photo above. The former owners preserved the window and put it on display for passersby during work completed a few years back.

Padrow’s Dispensing Pharmacy shows up in newspaper advertisements and city directories from 1950-1960 as a business owned by Western Drug Company and in operation at its own address (3701 NE Fremont). How it related to Wilshire Market has so far been beyond anyone’s memory that we’ve spoken with (can any AH readers please shed light on that?), but by all accounts it had its own door–just to the right of the window–and its own identity separate from Wilshire Market.

A fascinating feature of this building buried for at least 50 years is a full set of transom-type windows running the length of the south and west walls above the main windows.

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Looking at the south wall. Note the transom windows above the main windows: 36 panes in all.

They were covered up sometime in the 1940s or 1950s (educated guess) when other things were rearranged in the building (more on that in a moment). 36 of these transom windows tiled the entire south face of the building, prompting Jeff Smalley to observe that it must have been downright hot in the building during the summers. Maybe that’s why they were covered up long ago. Some of the transom windows on the west side had advertisements painted on them like this:

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Smalley has saved the hand-painted windows and will be displaying them inside the business. As for the transom windows, Smalley is liberating that space and opening it up again to light, though the original framing had to be replaced due to damage done during the rearranging a half-century or more ago.

Other rearranging done over the years included an addition to the north side of the building that added a residential apartment and storage area. In fact, the last proprietor of Wilshire Market lived on the premises. Smalley will utilize some of that space for storage and for employee break room space.

Do you have photos or favorite memories from Wilshire Market? Send them along and we’ll share them here.

Now, about the new business: Fire and Stone.

Jeff Smalley at the bar, Fire and Stone

 Jeff Smalley, owner, Fire and Stone.

First things first: Jeff Smalley has a history with bread. He spent seven years as a manager at Grand Central Bakery. He worked at Portland French Bakery, where he launched a new line of bread. And most recently, he was the bakery manager at New Seasons for the last seven years. Jeff knows his bread, and he knows good food. As a plus, he’s also learning a lot about old buildings.

Fire and Stone will feature a large wood-fired oven that is at the heart of the whole operation. A bakery and take-out area with its own entrance will reside at the southeast corner of the building. When you walk in the door—and from just about everywhere inside—you’ll be within sight of the big oven. Seating for 70 in the dining room and 10 seats at the bar should hold a good crowd, and during the summer, tables and chairs will be out on the sidewalk and large sliding windows along the south and west side will be open to the air. Jeff is adamant about being a good neighbor and about wanting the business to be a place where the neighborhood enjoys getting together for good food and conversation. He lives here too: the Smalley family has lived in the Cully neighborhood for 12 years, where Jeff and his wife have restored an older home.

A few other details Jeff pointed out during our recent visit: the tables, chairs and booths (under construction off-site right now) are all being made of seasoned, beautiful wood salvaged from a 100-year-old barn and fashioned in Prairie School and Mission style. The floors will be polished concrete, lending a slightly industrial feel. The exterior will be painted stucco. Inside, expect to see photos of Wilshire Market from the past, in-progress remodeling photos, and maybe even some history about the Beaumont and Alameda neighborhoods (ready when you are, Jeff).

Now for the $64 question: When will Fire and Stone open?

Jeff has been shooting for Labor Day all summer but with that come and gone, has readjusted his sights on the end of October. As an observer and participant in construction projects over the years (and as a lover of good bread), we hope he’s right but are thinking it’s looking more like Thanksgiving.

Whenever it’s ready, the business will add an attractive new venue for a get-together and good food, and serve as a place to remember and appreciate how the past has shaped today and the future.

So let’s just think about the new @alamedahistory Twitter account simply as a way to expand the old house history conversation and flow of information. We’re not big into social media here, but we do like the idea of being able to exchange ideas, photos and access to knowledge and information.

Frequently, when on foot in the neighborhood or elsewhere when old buildings are involved, we’ll see something of interest and take a picture, or wonder about a clue from the past. And just like you, we run into thought-provoking information on blogs and websites we might like to share.

Now that we have been coached that Twitter is perfect for sharing these kinds of things—and understand it a bit better (ask a young person)—we’re ready to give it a try, as an experiment really. Maybe it will even spur us on to more frequent postings here. Let’s see how it works.

You can follow us now by clicking the Twitter button on the right side of this page, or by looking us up on Twitter @alamedahistory. We’ve also arranged the blog page here so you can actually see our most recent tweets over there along the right hand side. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see it. If our tweet has a photo, you’ll see that too.

We’ll try to share a few things every week, including what we’re working on next for the blog, and maybe a picture or two. Welcoming any feedback as we evaluate this new angle. But don’t worry, we won’t abandon the blog for Twitter. We’re here to stay.

When it comes to tangible Alameda history, few things are closer to the heart than the Broadway Streetcar. It defined our neighborhood for two generations, and linked us with friends, family and business across the city.

So it is with great interest that we have been watching the sewer upgrade work underway this week on Regents Hill. It’s been dusty and a little clunky with traffic control and lots of big equipment up and down the slope. But it’s also been revealing.

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This week, we stopped to visit with some of the workers, who are just as tuned into history as others of us are, in fact maybe more so. One of the guys told us, appreciatively, “we get a good look at history every day.” And when they find it, as in the case of the streetcar track and the fine brick work between the rails, they take note too. And take pictures. They know something special when they see it.

9-9-14 Rail and brick

 

Photo credit: Aaron Johns

Standing there near the top of the hill watching the equipment scrape off the asphalt revealing the fine brick work and rails, you can’t help but feel the nostalgia, the wonder about who crafted that stretch of street, all the stories that rolled over the top along those rails for almost 50 years. A kind of post-card from the past.

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Have you noticed that one of the large and beautiful maples near the top of Regents Hill succumbed to old age this week?

You had to be up and out early Monday morning to see the big branches down on the street, and the significant amount of decay in the trunk and branches of the tree that led to its downfall. You can definitely see how a family of raccoons could live inside that cavernous trunk. And upon close examination, it’s amazing the tree held up through last winter’s storms. Fortunately, there were no cars or people underneath it when it let go this week.

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By the time we returned to the neighborhood in the evening, it had all been cleaned up.

Our best guess–knowing a little bit about construction of Regents Drive and the surrounding homes–is that it was one of the original trees planted during the earliest days of Alameda Park. That tree witnessed a lot of Alameda life, from streetcars to sledding. Thanks for four generations of shade!

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