The Church of Scientology recently purchased the historic Sherlock Building, located at the corner of SW 3rd and Oak. The building sold for $6.4 million and was purchased from the Seattle-based Urban Renaissance Group. This is the second historic structure acquired by the Church of Scientology in Portland. In 2008, the church purchased the Stevens Building, but the interior of the historic structure proved too difficult to work with. The church planned to build a chapel in the Stevens Building, but the interior walls could not be knocked down. The open floor plan of the Sherlock Building, however, would accommodate such a chapel. The church listed the Stevens Building for sale this year with an asking price of $4.95 million, down from its purchase cost of $5.38 million.
Construction of the Sherlock Building began in 1893 by the Northwest Loan & Trust Company for the Forbes & Breeden Co., a furniture business. When Northwest Loan & Trust Company went out of business, William Sherlock, an Irish-born Portland businessman, acquired the building and oversaw the completion of its construction.
The building was designed by F. Manson White, an English-born architect who first came to Portland in 1888 to work with the firm McCaw & Martin. By 1892 White established his own practice, which continued until his retirement in 1933. In addition to the Sherlock Building, White also designed the Imperial Hotel (1894), the Auditorium Building (1895), Seaside’s City Hall (1914) and the Flatiron Building (1917).
The Sherlock Building stands as one of Portland’s most noteworthy late 19th Century structures and one of the first Chicago-style buildings in the city. The building contains both Romanesque and Chicago School architectural elements. Over the years, tenants of the Sherlock Building have included the popular nightclub the Embassy Club, various retail and service businesses, and currently Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
The Sherlock Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. In 1980, the edifice was saved from possible demolition when the architectural firm ZGF Partnership moved its office into the building.
The Church of Scientology plans to renovate the building and undertake major seismic upgrades to the structure.
Source: Daily Journal of Commerce, “Church of Scientology buys Sherlock Building,” 8 June 2010