Old Photos

Shaver House ThenShaver House Now

Here’s a photo of a house you’ll recognize at 3119 NE Alameda Street, built by Captain Delmer Shaver and his wife Nellie. Shaver spent his life (1867-1950) working with his father and brothers to create and operate the Shaver Transportation Company, which started out as a steamship company on the Columbia and Willamette rivers and has become a leading tugboat and barge company still on the waters today. Delmer and Nellie had three children (James, Ellen and Doris) who grew up in this house, and attended Alameda School and Grant High School.

The then photo is from the August 9, 1914 edition of The Oregonian. The caption described that construction (which cost $10,000 which was a fair amount in 1914) began in February, was nearly complete in August, but the house would not be occupied until late fall. The second floor included a sleeping porch (which can be seen on the far right), and service quarters on the third floor. The unusually large lot was described as being a “park,” and the garage being large and “commodious.”

Not necessarily related to the house, but of note in the Shavers’ life in August 1914 was a gathering to mark their 25th wedding anniversary, held at the couple’s other home near Cannon Beach, which was poetically described in a brief article that appeared in the August 24th edition of The Oregonian.

Captain and Mrs. Shaver celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary early this week at their country place. An elaborate dinner was served at tables arranged on the lawn. In the evening Japanese lanterns lighted the grounds and added dashes of color most effective among the deep green of the trees. The tables were decorated attractively. A bonfire followed the supper. Congratulations and good wishes were extended to the host and hostess.

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

Once they moved in, the Shavers hosted similar gatherings at the Alameda home, some of which also made it onto the pages of The Oregonian, including soiree-like block parties that shut down The Alameda (as the street was known then) with lanterns hung across the road, music and other entertainments, and neighbors coming from throughout Portland to enjoy summer evenings.

We think Captain Shaver would definitely recognize the house today, and would be pleased with its upkeep and the recent landscaping work that has been completed.

Eastman House Then Eastman House Now

Here’s the home of Portland architect George Asa Eastman, photographed 100 years ago to illustrate a story in the May 5, 1914 edition of The Oregonian about how the Alameda Park neighborhood was “forging ahead.” The subtitle to the headline was “Few districts enjoy more substantial growth than suburban park. New homes are sprinkled over many handsome streets.” Eastman designed this home and supervised its construction in 1912.

While the story didn’t recognize Eastman’s contribution to local construction trends, he was a principal architect for the Oregon Home Builders, which built more homes in Alameda Park and Olmsted Park than any other builder.

You’ll recognize this house today at 2628 NE Stuart Drive, where some recent major changes in landscaping have enabled a full appreciation of the Craftsman style home and the unique site on the sidehill of Alameda Ridge. For a short time after construction, NE Stuart Drive was known as Rugby Drive, a name that is still visible if you know where to look. An accident on the property in 1917 gave rise to the name–still in local usage–of Deadman’s Hill.

A careful look at then-and-now will reveal that the top floor open porch of the house has been enclosed; many windows have been replaced and a couple have been added; a new deck and walkway have been added along the lower level; trees have come and gone (but appear in similar locations); a power pole has been added in the foreground.

Eastman was active in Portland from about 1909 until he moved to Detroit in 1916. He died in 1920. Stay tuned for more on Eastman and the Oregon Home Builders: both are the subject of current inquiry and research.

1923 Frank Moore Photo DSC_0038

Here’s the Thomas Prince House, at 2903 NE Alameda Street, right at the top of Regents Hill. The then photo is from about 1922, taken by leaders of the Alameda Park Community Church who were out snapping several other photos of the neighborhood in those years, about the time the church was being built. The now view is from approximately the same location.

Some notable changes:

  • The landscaping has taken over;
  • More recently built houses now obstruct the view through to the next block;
  • The power poles (both of them) are gone;
  • The house is still in very good shape;
  • And, the house is for sale at $1.375 million.
  • (What else do you see?)

As long as we are focusing in on the Thomas Prince house, we should look at another photo pair, this time a view from The Oregonian on July 22, 1917. The caption of the 1917 story says the $25,000 house featured a “fountain room.”

Thomas Prince House 1917

Thomas Prince House 2014

We visited the house recently and didn’t see any sign of the fountain room, though we did note the beautiful almost 3-D woven tile in the upstairs bathrooms; the marble fireplace (and a signature etched into the hearth); and the beautiful and stately birch paneled entryway. See the photos below by Emma Decker. The house is worthy of its national register status (Here is a link to the nomination form filed in 1985 Thomas Prince House HNR Nomination complete with floor-by-floor drawings and descriptions).

Bathroom Tile Detail - Thomas Prince House



Prince was an interesting person with at least two major careers behind him when at age 71 in 1912 he agreed to be the financial backer for Oliver K. Jeffrey and the Oregon Home Builders Inc. Jeffrey and his company built more than two dozen homes in Alameda and Olmsted Park—many of them unique, grand and built for wealthy clients—and as regular readers of the blog will recall, also built the building that now houses Gordon’s Fireplace Shop at NE 33rd and Broadway (check out the story if you haven’t read it. We know you’ve driven by this place and wondered what it’s all about). More soon about the Oregon Home Builders, a fascinating story that ends in a broken business model and bankruptcy.

Prince’s roots were in Massachusetts, where he was a founding partner in Reed and Prince, a manufacturer of nuts and bolts with national market share (still in operation today). Something happened in the Prince family in the 1890s, and Thomas, accompanied only by his developmentally disabled son Harold Thomas Prince, left on their own for Oregon, where the elder became a walnut and fruit grower near Dundee. When he died in February 1920 at age 79, Prince owned and operated the largest walnut orchard in Oregon.

Though it’s known today on the National Register of Historic Places as the Thomas Prince House, the elder Thomas didn’t spend much time here. He died in California in 1920 and his death set off a feeding frenzy among heirs and beneficiaries as his $2 million estate was divided up. A sad series of stories in The Oregonian in the three years after his death documents the infighting and finger pointing (as well as the occasional sale of property like Prince’s seven-passenger Pierce Arrow touring car sold at auction in 1920). Son Harold Thomas Prince lived in the house with his wife Marjorie until the 1950s.

As a bonus for reading all the way to the bottom, here’s an interesting tidbit about the house that turned up in the August 11, 1918 edition of The Oregonian:

Skunk 8-11-1918

In the course of research over the years, we’ve come across quite a few pictures of neighborhood homes, which we’ve always squirreled away into the archive for some future use. Many of them are grainy, some are half-toned from old newspapers. Some have coffee spilled on them. Each one tells a story, particularly when paired with a contemporary photo of the same view.

With the start of the new year, we’re inaugurating a regular feature that we call “Alameda Then and Now” to plumb the archive a bit and explore how time has changed the face of the neighborhood (or not, in some cases). The rule is that the then picture has to be before 1962, and the earlier the better. We’ll be pulling from our archive and will do our best to stay within the footprint of the Alameda Park plat. If you have images we should consider, please pass them along.

We’ve created a category here on the blog, and a menu button on the top right which you can use to check back on the growing collection.

Like a family’s picture album, the faces of our homes contain precious tales of our life and times.

This pair is a little eerie, like the family just stepped out of the frame.  The house, located on NE 30th Avenue, is substantially the same as when it was built in 1912. In the top photo, the Morrison family gathers on their front porch, about 1920. Below, the same view today. The wooden steps are long gone and the columns and porch walls have been restored, but the decorative rafter tails, door, windows and siding are the same this family knew almost 100 years ago. Click on each image for a larger view.

Stay tuned for the then and now next pair…

We’ve come across a remarkable piece of propaganda recently that offers a unique look into the earliest days of Alameda Park. It’s a brochure, printed in 1910, that provides photos and some very creative narrative, all designed to get potential buyers into Alameda Park.

It’s different than the small brochure you might have seen. This is a three-color (black, yellow, green) glossy, multi-fold pamphlet.

Interesting to note how the photo/map view below right is facing east, with Mt. Hood in the distance, instead of the typical north-south orientation. See what other interesting details you can find, like all the steamships in dock. Be sure to check out the “Rustic Rest Resort” on the cover, which looks more like a coastal cabana than something you’d find in the woods and fields of this new neighborhood. We think it was a gazebo like “porch” perched somewhere along the Alameda Ridge.

Click on the image for a full-size look at the map and the text.

Text and images in the brochure go on to talk about the many virtues of the property—descriptions that are a bit ironic since when this went to print, the “Tuxedo” was little more than gravel streets, some concrete curbs, mud and brush.

Another distinctive feature is the way in which the proponents boldly benchmark and shamelessly rip off nearby Irvington, which was established, successful and featured solid property values. Check out this panel:

The green text is faded, but it’s pointing out that tiny patch of mud and trees at the far north end of this lovely Irvington street view, as if to say: “Alameda…it’s up there.” Throughout the brochure, Alameda Land Company boosters tried to build their own credibility on the back of Irvington (which was developed earlier and by a different company that didn’t much appreciate this kind of attention).

And here’s one that took some real initiative: calling the Irvington School the Alameda School. Just to be clear, this is the original Irvington School. There was never a school like this in Alameda. Period. It’s a bald-faced lie in black and white.

Don’t believe everything you read: there was never a school like this in Alameda…it’s the original Irvington School.

For us though, always in search of more information about the Alameda Land Company, the real gems of this brochure include the photo of the company’s tract office, which was located on the southeast corner of 29th and Mason. Check it out:

Looking east on Mason, just west of NE 29th Avenue. Note that the streetcar tracks have not arrived yet. A later photo taken from nearby looking north shows the railing and a banner that reads “Alameda Land Company Tract Office,” which appears to be on the roof too.

And saving the best for last: this view of NE Regents Drive, looking downhill, long before the neighborhood we know today. About as close as we get to time travel.

With thanks to our friends at the Architectural Heritage Center for sharing.

Check out this view looking up the hill at NE 33rd and Fremont–Gravelly Hill–taken in 1954.

Photo Courtesy of City of Portland Archives. Click for a larger view.

Two lanes of traffic northbound, and those were the days of the wide-body car. And you think it’s a tight fit today!

Have a good look around and you’ll see the house on the southwest corner, a Roman-brick ranch with swimming pool that collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. You’ll also see that the brush and trees on the east side of the street are still there, just a little bigger today. Street signs have changed style since then. The upslope houses on the west side of the street haven’t been built yet.

Way back, this was the summit of Gravelly Hill, a one-time gravel pit and garbage dump for east Portland. The contributing factor to the demise of the former home that occupied the southwest corner was the underlying instability of the slope due to the gravelly soils and the not-fully-compacted refuse the house was built upon.

We’re working on a careful look at the history of Gravelly Hill and found this photo fascinating. Believe it or not, we’ve found news stories in The Oregonian from the early 1900s that refer to fox hunts (as in social groups of people on horseback with dogs riding about the countryside) that began and ended at the base of this hill. Farmers and fruitgrowers tilled the soil here for a generation perfecting new breeds of strawberries and apples. Boxing matches were held out this way, far beyond the edges of the city, in a barn perched on the hillside. And residents who wanted more space around them lived and died out here in the country where they could appreciate the view from Gravelly Hill.

Let’s just say that it’s a hill with a lot of history.

And today, just like half a century ago, it’s still a busy intersection, one of the neighborhood’s most dangerous, and one of our least favorites.

With thanks to the Stanley Parr Archives at the City of Portland for this photo from the past.

We’ve always enjoyed walking the neighborhood and contemplating the many layers of history here in Alameda. It’s also always interesting to see how past and current homeowners have responded—or not—to the history of their homes. Sometimes inspiring; sometimes perplexing.

One neighbor at the corner of NE 32nd and Mason has been busy putting things back like they were almost 100 years ago when this Dutch colonial was built by Portland homebuilder Frank E. Bowman.

Constructed originally for $6,500 for H.B. Oakleaf and his family, the home changed hands across the generations and along the way stylistic “updates” and maintenance began to change the look of the home’s exterior. Aluminum siding was put up over the original cedar shake siding. Wooden windows were pulled out in favor of the dreaded aluminum slider windows. Wooden trim, sills and lentil molding were removed. Much of the original charm seen in this photograph — which ran in The Oregonian on September 6, 1914 — was slowly drained away.

Fast forward to this summer, when Alamedans Steve and Teresa Goodman made good on a long-time goal: replace the aluminum windows with traditional wood windows; remove the 1960s siding and restore the exterior to more traditional cedar shakes.

That’s 36 windows to be exact (wood clad, low-E, double-hung, double glazed and argon filled windows) and if you look closely, complete with lintel molding up top and wooden sills below. Steve and Teresa have been thinking about this since the 1980s, and as Steve says, “better late than never.”

So, if you are looking for a little inspiration about the value of restoring your home to its more traditional roots, walk by 32nd and Mason and take stock. Nice work, Steve and Teresa.

September 10th Post Script: An interested reader wanted to see what it looked like before. I’m sure Steve won’t mind if I share this picture, which he took…

We’d like to recommend a great local website that will feed your curiosity about Portland history: www.vintageportland.wordpress.com

This excellent site, which launched last November, features a steady parade of high resolution photos that you’ll want to look at close-up for clues to the past and the present. We like to download the photos and then explore them in detail. Look closely and you might see the person in the upstairs window. Or the guy in the distance staring at the photographer from under his fedora. Or the amazing wolf’s head frieze on the cornice of the downtown building.

Taken together they offer a sense of just how much we’ve inherited from the past, how much has been lost, and the importance of recognizing the stewardship role we have at this moment in time to be a bridge between past, present and future.

Keep an eye out there and you might even see a shot or two from the Alameda Park neighborhood! For future reference, we’ve added a link to Vintage Portland on the links sidebar in the lower right side of this page.

Here’s a neighborhood memory that brings together a couple of favorite topics we like to wonder about: The open spaces of the early unbuilt neighborhood, and the Broadway Streetcar.

Long-time Alameda Tuesday Club member Terry O’Hanlon checked in with us recently to share these memories. Part of her growing up years – and most of her adult life – has been spent right here in the Alameda neighborhood. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, she and her family lived in the bungalow at 4016 NE 28th.  Here’s a picture:

4016 NE 28th, taken about 1932. Photo Courtesy of Terry O’Hanlon.

The house, built in 1921 by the Wickman Building Company, looks much the same today. As a very young person, Terry remembers playing with the neighbor kids, romping out front with her little white dog, and adventuring around the open spaces and empty lots nearby.

She also has an enduring memory of the night her living room provided a convenient stake-out location for the Portland Police.

A spate of robberies had been plaguing the Broadway Streetcar. As Alameda History Blog readers will know, 29th and Mason was the end of the streetcar line, where the conductor stepped outside to switch the overhead electrical connection, flipped the seats so they’d be facing forward, and then took a break before the inbound trip back downtown to Broadway and Jefferson. 29th and Mason was a quiet, somewhat out of the limelight spot – perfect for a motorman’s momentary pause. But also perfect for a stick up. The car, and its accumulated collected fares, was a sitting duck out there in the dark at the end of the line.

That’s where Terry’s living room came in handy: at the time, it provided a perfect view to the end of the line—about one block east—so the good guys could keep an eye out for the bad guys. Look back at the photo: See that empty lot to the left (north)? 20 years later, Kenny Birkemeier would build a house on that spot, filling up that open view to the end of the line.

Here’s something to think about: Watching out your window as all around you a neighborhood is being built up. Elder Alamedans remember this phenomenon well, and some have even lamented the loss of their favorite empty lot, hiding spot, or fort location. It was one of the defining experiences of growing up in Alameda up until the late 1940s. A topic for some future post. But back to the living room and the streetcar stick up…

Terry remembers coming downstairs to a darkened first floor, into a room filled with cops all craning their necks to watch the streetcar when it finally came to a stop. The shock of it all seared that image into Terry’s memory banks for these many years. But don’t ask if her if Portland’s Finest got their man…she’s never been sure about that. The image of her darkened house filled with police soaked up all available memory-making bandwidth for the very young person she was at the time.

We’ve seen news stories from 1920s editions of The Oregonian about a burglar operating in the neighborhood, but have never come across any official telling of the streetcar stick-up to help us know how it all turned out. Chances are the Portland Traction Company, which operated the Broadway car during those years, would have wanted to keep a lid on the whole thing anyway so as to not put every carline in jeopardy.

There are other memories about the end of our car line: about the old man and his German shepherd who used to nap on the lawn of the house at the southwest corner of 29th and Mason, watching streetcars come and go. And the enterprising teenager who “hijacked” a driver-less streetcar parked momentarily at 24th and Fremont. And, what if felt like for some on the last ride of the last day.

So many memories to explore, so little time…

If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you’ll recall our piece on the controversy about construction of the Alameda Park Community Church (click here for that page). As a reminder, in the Fall of 1920, neighbors were not happy about plans to build the church on two lots at the southwest corner of 30th Avenue and Mason. The former owners of our house—Walter and Edith Morrison—led a campaign to oppose the building, and then to relocate the planned construction one block east to the island at the corner of Mason and Regents where it was ultimately built (but not before trying unsuccessfully to kick it out of the neigborhood altogether) .

While researching recently through building permits and related documents filed on microfiche, we came across the original drawings for the building, all filed for construction at 30th Avenue and Mason. Take a look:

Detail from elevation drawings filed with construction documents for the city’s permit process. Note that the building was designed by architect Edward G. Larson, working for Redimade Building Company (which was based in Portland).

The church building, now known as the Subud Center, is still going strong and a neat place for meetings, events and large family gatherings.

We continue to keep any ear out for stories, memories and photos of this building. Have something you can share?

Alameda School, 1923. Picture taken looking southeast from the corner of NE 27th and Fremont. OHS image OrHi 105623.

We received word last week from Portland Public Schools that they’re sharing an inventory of their many historic properties, including our favorite Alameda Elementary School, and nearby Beaumont Middle School.

You can find these reports and many others at this link, which is interestingly housed within the Office of School Modernization.

Looks like Alameda faired well in the analysis in terms of its historic integrity, but Beaumont–due to many alterations made over time–did not. Both buildings were designed by George Jones, the one-man Portland school architectural institution (actually two man institution, his father Thomas had also been architect for the Portland School District years earlier).

The good news for Alameda Elementary School is that it scores well as a candidate for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps a small group of interested parents and historic building fans might be up to the task…? Count us in if we can find a quorum.

Be sure to have a look at these other posts related to Alameda School.

I’ve embarked on a line of research that involves trying to understand the businesses that have served Alamedans over the years, with a focus on the smaller shops that existed around the perimeter of the neighborhood. Here’s one that will bring back some memories for those who knew it, and will intrigue those of us who didn’t.

Prescott Fountain, 1955


This view is looking northeast from the corner of NE 29th and Prescott. Photo courtesy of Tom Robinson, Historic Photo Archive. Below is the same place, 54 years later.


Food King Market, 2009


We live not too far from Food King and drop in from time to time, almost always in the evening after other stores are closed, to get a gallon of milk for the morning. When I found this 1955 picture, I stopped in to see if the owners knew anything about the building, but they don’t, so I turned to others I know (thank you Steve Goodman and John Hamnett) who do.

The building was built in 1922, so there are a couple of generations who shopped here before this early picture was taken, and about which we don’t know much (yet). But here’s the lowdown on this place from the vantage point of the mid- to late-1950s.

I’ll let Steve Goodman tell this story from here:

First, this is actually four businesses. The left door (about one-quarter of the total building), was the Prescott Fountain. But no one called it that. From the late 50’s until it closed (sometime in the mid to late 60’s), it was know as Hunderups, for its owner (we kids pronounced it “Hun-drups”).

It was not what you might envision.  Likely in earlier days it was a modern, clean, well respected establishment, but that’s NOT how we knew it. Adults would never go in there.  It was a dingy hang-out for kids. Emphasis on dingy. It was dark (seemed like only about  two lights lit the whole place), dirty (old Mr. Hunderup, who resembled Charley Weaver, let the store go into disrepair and never cleaned it). The product on the shelves was all old and never sold. Items you’d expect in a old drug store, hot water bottles, etc.

But it did have an old fashioned counter and stools where grade school and high school kids (boys — never a girl) would gather.  He’d have candy behind the counter, but we hardly ever bought it, as fresher was available next door.

The attraction was the iced Cokes in a bottle. I don’t remember, probably a nickel or dime each.  He’d keep them in a “too cold” refrigerator, and kids would go there to socialize in an “adult free” zone, and drink the Cokes from the bottle with a straw. Sometimes Mr. Hunderup would have to break thru the ice with his ice-pick so we could get the straw in.

Rumor has it that someone once saw a rat running thru the store.  Maybe yes, maybe no – but in this dark, dirty establishment it wouldn’t surprise anyone.

My mother went in Hunderup’s once (once) looking for some item, and I think she disallowed me from going in there again — or couldn’t figure out why we’d want to.

I got the feeling that before it was the run-down place we knew, Mr. Hunderup might have owned it when it was nice and new(er), but just let it get run-down.  Looking back, he loved seeing us and chatting with us while we kept him in business.

Mr. Hunderup passed away in the late 60’s. They cleaned it all out (and we joked about how much they probably had to fumigate the place), and it soon became part of the store next door.”

Steve explains that the second door from the left was a thriving, clean, well-lit family owned neighborhood grocery called Hume’s Foods…you can see it on the awning in the photo. It sold in 1963 to the Brandel family (which later owned Alameda Foods at 24th and Fremont).

Steve remembers…

It was unlike the convenience stores of current.  They had a large produce section on the east side of the store. In the back was a large butcher case, well stocked and staffed by a real butcher. While this wasn’t a “supermarket,” it’s where many in the neighborhood did their weekly shopping; always busy. And it had several adults working there – back when they could support a family with that type of job.  No turnover, but the same people.  Mr. and Mrs. Brandel would always be in.  I can remember their faces like it was yesterday.  They kept ledgers behind the counter where some customers ran a tab.”

On the east end of the building, down beyond Brandel’s, was a beauty shop and a barber shop, complete with the twirling red and white barber pole and a row of hair dryers against the wall.

What do you know about this place? Care to share a memory about another neighborhood business?

Post Script| March 28, 2009: Thanks to the helpful memory of blog reader Steve Turner, we know that the proprieter was named August Herman Hunderup. I’ve done a little genealogy on Mr. Hunderup and learned that he was born in 1891 in Minnesota. In the 1920 census, he’s living with his parents on SE 87th Avenue and is listed as a “minister” at a Catholic Church. Death records show he passed away on September 3, 1970. I’d love to hear from any family members, or others, who have a memory of Mr. H and his quirky, memorable shop.

When most Alamedans think about our lovely old Alameda Elementary School, we are probably thinking about the beautiful and classic building that stands today on NE Fremont between 27th and 29th. Built in 1921, this school has been the neighborhood hearth for generations.

But did you know there was an even earlier Alameda School? I came upon this tidbit while reviewing 1914 articles from The Oregonian, but never dreamed I’d find a photo of the place. You can imagine how pleased I was to find this remarkable shot of the first school in the neighborhood, built in 1915. Check it out:

"First crop of radishes and lettuce at the Alameda Park School, Portland, Oregon, June, 1916. Even in the primary grades children may learn much about the science of growing things. Courtesy L.A. Alderman"

The original caption reads: "First crop of radishes and lettuce at the Alameda Park School, Portland, Oregon, June, 1916. Even in the primary grades children may learn much about the science of growing things. Courtesy L.A. Alderman"

The photo is from a book published in 1919 by Rand McNally called “Vocational Guidance for Girls,” by Marguerite Stockman Dickson. You can have a look at this book (a remarkable story all on its own), thanks to Project Gutenberg, by clicking here.  The Alameda photo is in Chapter V, where you’ll find some other interesting photos from Northeast Portland.

The caption clearly identifies this as the Alameda Park School in Portland, Oregon. That’s us. Pair this up with the news story from The Oregonian on September 18th, 1914 and we can begin to fit some pieces together. Take a look:

From The Oregonian, September 18, 1914.

From The Oregonian, September 18, 1914.

Things to ponder:

  • This original small school building was viewed as temporary when it was first built. Only a relatively small percentage of homes had been built in the neighborhood by then, so it was clear there would one day be a real need. Not so much in 1915, but local kids still needed a local school.
  • It was first imagined in context with a school up the road in the Beaumont neighborhood, which was also to be temporary. Like Alameda, that neighborhood was just starting out in 1915.
  • The newspaper indicates that one site for the school was at the top of Gravelly Hill, NE 33rd and Fremont. It also says the site being offered by J.J. Cahalin was on Fremont between 25th and 26th, the next block west from the current site of the Fremont United Methodist Church. I didn’t find a follow-up story, nor have I looked at the property records, but my hunch just from looking at the photo is that the Cahalin site was selected over the one at the top of the hill. I’ll run that down next time I’m looking at property records, but that just seems likely.
  • Interesting to note the tall windows, lattice-work porch and woodstove chimney. And the fact that the kids had a busy and productive garden.

Where did it sit exactly? Who built it? Who was headmaster? Mysteries yet to solve.

Winter 1936

Winter 1936, looking north on NE 30th toward intersection with Mason.

Winter 1936, looking north on NE 30th toward intersection with Mason. Click for a larger size image.

Winter 2008

Winter 2008. Looking north on Northeast 30th toward Mason.

Winter 2008, looking north on NE 30th toward Mason. Click for a larger size image.

There’s a great Billy Collins poem called “A History of Weather” that I’ve been thinking about all week. We’ve had a lot of snow here in Portland, not record-breaking, but still more than anyone has seen around these parts for 40 years. Right now we have about 15 inches on the ground and the city has been at a virtual stop for the last couple days. We started to thaw today, but another 4-8 inches of snow are in the forecast for the next couple days.

In the poem, Collins creates a funny, wistful elegy for atmospheres of the past, and contemplates weather as a common human bond across the ages. Contemplating what a weather history poem should include, Collins writes, “There will be a section on the frozen nights of antiquity…” I’ve been thinking about the frozen days and nights of the past, the transforming quiet and joy visited on the kids of this street and neighborhood over the years.

So after shoveling the front walk yesterday, I dug into my Alameda archive and found a picture taken a few doors south of my house in 1936, the year Portland received about 35 inches of snow. The photo has been passed down to me by the family of the little boy who grew up here in the teens and twenties. He was fledged by 1936 (family members were in the house til the late 1950s), but the photo stayed in his family because it depicted remarkable conditions.

Being obsessed with lining up past and present for clues, I prowled around this morning hunting — camera in one hand, old photo in the other — for the original photographer’s footprints, which are not entirely available today due to some landscaping changes down the block. 

The big house on the corner (white in 1936, blue today) is the Copenhagen House, built in 1912 by the family of Les Copenhagen. Today’s big beech in the sideyard is just a start of a tree in 1936. Power poles have thinned out a bit, though still an eyesore. The gable end of the house facing the camera up the block can be seen in both images. A little closer in, if you squint at the 1936 image, you can see Walter Morrison out shoveling the front walk of my house. Farther up the block and across the street, today’s yellow Dutch colonial was just a vacant lot. Other vacant lots allow a view off into the distance.

Families in 1936 probably took pictures of their unusual winter weather event, just like we have this week. Unfortunately, most of those images are lost to time. We’re lucky to have this one , 71 years old. Makes you think about the pictures you take, the pictures you save, the pictures you decide to throw. I’m always on the lookout for old pictures of Alameda…

To cap off this entry about the history of snow, thought I’d share a very interesting info-graphic from The Oregonian today that clearly indicates that our predecessors knew a lot more about snow than we do. Check it out:

From The Oregonian, Page 1, 12-23-08

From The Oregonian, Page 1, 12-23-08. Click for a larger size image.

Merry Christmas to all!

Grant Park Grocery and Market, about 1933. Photo courtesy of Jerry Hoffelner

Grant Park Grocery and Market, NE 33rd and Knott, about 1933. Photo courtesy of Jerry Hoffelner. The man in the first row, second from the right with the blue “x” penned onto his apron, is Jerry’s dad, George Hoffelner. The other men have yet to be identified. Can you help?

I’m researching a very old house near 29th and Knott. One of the many people who lived in the house over the years worked for a while at the Grant Park Grocery and Market, which we know today as the Family Medical Group office on the southwest corner of NE 33rd and Knott.

The image above, taken about 1933, shows the grocery staff decked out in their white aprons ready for action. Like many small stores, these guys often delivered the groceries direct to your door…an idea recently picked up on by some of the modern mega-grocery stores.

This image is taken on the east face of the building (facing 33rd). The original entrance for the market was not on the diagonal at the corner like it is today, though it seems there was always an entry there. My hunch is that was the entry to the pharmacy and fountain that used to be there. The grocery business was owned and operated by Ernest Bjorklund. Next time you are stopped at the light there, have a good look at this interesting building and tip your hat to Mr. Bjorklund and his squad of helpful grocery clerks.

I’m looking for any help with memories, stories, photos or information about either the Grant Park Market or the pharmacy and fountain.

Here’s a shot of that same spot today. The door appears to be an “emergency exit” today. The graceful lights are gone, as is the cool curved doorway and the sidewalk ramp leading to the door (it’s now just part of the garden bed).

Grant Park Grocery and Market building, June 2008

pair-1-then.jpg pair-1-now.jpg

The images here on the blog resulted from research I’ve done on my own house and stemmed from a front porch remodeling project we had in mind. In the 1940s, After 30 years of exposure and wear-and-tear, the family living here decided to remodel their deteriorating front porch. They removed the columns and poured a concrete deck. Then they enclosed it with casement windows and turned it into a sun porch. When we moved in in the late 1980s, it was pretty much charm free. Our detective work on the reconstruction showed the ghosts of some early columns and other features, but we had to use our imaginations to guess at what it looked like originally. That is, until old house research really paid off.



I had been looking for members of the family who lived in our house (one single family was here from 1912 until 1959, which is a good long time for one family to be in the house…we were lucky in that). I was also fortunate to find the little boy who grew up here…he was in his 90s when I found him. In addition to sharing all kinds of stories about the house and the neighborhood, he put me on to a bunch of photographs of the house from the teens and early 1920s. Jackpot! We couldn’t believe our eyes. We were generally right about the columns, but the idea of the extended porch, with its false pedastal corners, was well beyond our imaginations.



So, we sat down at the drawing board, old photos in hand, and did some scaling of the ghost porch using measurements of house parts visible then and still here today. And then we found a very talented and patient carpenter to put it all back together.

After a little landscaping and reconstruction of some long-gone sidewalks, I’m confident that the family who moved in those long years ago would clearly recognize the place today.




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