Portland Public Schools Releases Historic Building Assessment & Marysville School Burns

As I was preparing a post about Portland Public Schools and their recent Historic Building Assessment, I found out that Marysville School at SE 77th & Raymond was on fire. According to preliminary reports, the school was badly damaged if not entirely gutted. Not exactly the way I wanted to start our new blog. A sad day indeed.

The good news is that Portland Public Schools has recently completed the survey of all of their school buildings district-wide. So if you are interested in school building in your neighborhood or anywhere else in the city for that matter, we encourage you to check out the PPS website.

It is clear from this report that a number of school buildings are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Schools that met this standard, include Winterhaven (Brooklyn), James John, Franklin High School and, much to my dismay, Marysville. A number of schools however, were seen as either  not significant enough or not retaining enough of their historic integrity for designation.

The Historic Building Assessment is useful and informative, but one thing it is lacking is consideration of what these buildings actually mean to the community. It is hard to define social and cultural connections in such a study and that wasn’t really the purpose of the project anyway. But this is why it is important to be proactive in preserving our neighborhood schools. The time to pursue preservation and ongoing use of our historic school buildings should come long before calls for demolition even begin.

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3 Comments

Filed under Historic Preservation

3 responses to “Portland Public Schools Releases Historic Building Assessment & Marysville School Burns

  1. Natalie

    It’s too early to tell, but initial reports of the school being lost may be exaggerated. It will be interesting to see how much damage was done and if any of the structure can be saved.

    Some of the most compelling posts on news websites chronicling the fire are from people all over Portland and the country who attended Marysville, lamenting the loss of their school. It was even reported that the reporting fire chief’s mother went to Marysville in 1927! As you state, for each historic building there is a strong connection not just to the architectural past, but also to the history of the community.

    Finally, and most important, thank you to all the teachers and staff at Marysville for being calm and professional and escorting all of the students safely out! We cannot preserve our history for the next generation if we do not properly protect and educate them.

  2. Tanya March

    “The Metropolitan Learning Center/ Couch Elementary School retains its integrity with moderate alterations to its plan and exterior and interior finishes. The 1914 Tudor Revival style school is recommended as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) for its association with progressive era public school construction in Portland (Criterion A).”
    I wish the pool could be fixed. :(
    I expected the MLC school to “rank” as a keeper knowing that it is in the historic district. I fear learning what schools PPS intends to scrap knowing that the school board’s idea of a sustainable school is a new structure with a costly white elephant air-conditioner on top. Thanks for the link to the survey. I have been waiting for this information.

  3. Fred Leeson

    The district in the past has not not exercised much sensitivity in remodeling its buildings. Years ago I watched the exterior of Fernwood School be seriously damaged by its transformation into a middle school. We need to be more vigilant. Ironically, the district is seeing it “done right” in the renovation of the old Kenton School into North Catholic High School.

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