James L. Quinn 1880-1960

​​James L. Quinn, from the Oregon Journal, February 22, 1920

Building contractor James L. Quinn arrived in Portland from Glasgow, Scotland in 1905 and was naturalized as a citizen in 1912. In 1914 he went out on his own as an independent building contractor at age 34, and the first houses he built are four bungalows on East Yamhill Street between 90th and 92nd built in 1914. The following year he won the bid to build the Alameda Ridge home of gubernatorial candidate Dr. Charles Johnson Smith and Lillian Belle Smith. While working on that house, Quinn finished up his own family home at 3415 NE Broadway (still standing) and was also building a large home at NW 24th and Pettygrove.

Quinn went on to larger institutional construction projects in Portland, including Grant High School (1924) and Irvington Middle School (1932). In the late 1920s, he and his family moved to Klamath Falls, where he accomplished several large projects including the Klamath Union High School (1927-1928), the Great Northern Depot and freight sheds (1928); the Golden Rule Building (1929); and the Keno School (1930). The Quinn family maintained homes in both Klamath Falls and Portland. It’s interesting to note his evolution—in the eyes of the Klamath Falls Herald and News at least—from being a “Portland builder” when he first started on the Klamath Union High School in 1927 to being a “local builder” when he built the Sixth Street Bakery there in 1931.

Quinn retired from the construction business in 1945 and moved to the San Francisco area, where he died at age 79 on December 25, 1960. After his death, the most detailed obituary noting his passing ran was not in The Oregonian or the San Francisco Examiner, but in the Klamath Falls Herald and News, a community where he hadn’t lived for more than 15 years but where he evidently left a remembered legacy.

From the Klamath Falls Herald and News, December 27, 1960