Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Sad Existence for an Erstwhile Greyhound Garage

Front detail on old Greyhound bus garage - 2521 SW Water Avenue. Lauren Radwanski photo.

In the shadow of the Marquam Bridge lies a little know building that was once a state of the art garage for Greyhound buses. Recently Architectural Heritage Center volunteer Lauren Radwanski, brought this building to our attention, as it appears on the verge of demolition. In fact, building owners Portland General Electric, have had the property on which the building sits, targeted for a new substation for several years. Clearly the building has seen better days, and recognizing that not everything can be saved, we thought it might be interesting to shed a little light on the history of this building before it’s gone for good.

Although to date the architect for the building has yet to be discovered, we know that the Greyhound garage opened in 1931 to much fanfare, at least within the “motor  stage” industry. That summer, there was a detailed spread in the trade publication Bus Transportation about Portland’s new $200,000 bus garage.

Excerpt from Bus Transportation magazine - July 1931.

Apparently, the garage could service 18 buses at one time and included in the nearly 58,000 square feet of space were living quarters for bus drivers – hard to image in the 21st century. The building’s roof was also cutting edge (no pun intended) for its time, described as “saw tooth”, with “light diffusing glass” to maximize natural light. Without a doubt, Greyhound invested heavily in this garage for the then-growing bus travel industry.

Photo of newly completed Portland Greyhound bus garage. From Bus Transportation magazine, July 1931.

There’s still more research to be done and hopefully in the coming weeks we’ll find out additional details about the old garage. In the meantime, if you happen to be passing underneath the Marquam Bridge, on SW Water Avenue, take a moment and try to imagine the pride that went into this now-derelict building’s construction.

Street view of Portland's old Greyhound garage. Lauren Radwanski photo.

Wheel-themed detail on facade of old Greyhound bus garage. Lauren Radwanski photo.

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Filed under Historic Preservation, Local History

Absalom Hallock and Portland’s Oldest (Known) Building – UPDATED

A.B. Hallock and Z.H. Webber ad from the very first issue of the Oregonian, December 4, 1850. Courtesy of University of Oregon Historic Oregon Newspapers program.

Tonight, the Architectural Heritage Centerwill be hosting a special event at Portland’s oldest known building – The Hallock-McMillan Building on SW Naito at Oak Street. The circa 1857 building is in the midst of renovations under the new ownership of John Russell, who also owns the adjacent historic buildings. Program attendees will get a chance to see inside the building and the neighboring Dielschneider building, as well as have the chance to take a 30 minute walking tour of the immediate area. Refreshments will be served and there are even door-prizes. You can still purchase tickets for the event at the AHC’s website or call them 503-231-7264. Tickets can also be purchased at the door (cash or check only).

So who was Absalom Hallock?

Hallock has often been touted as Portland’s first professional architect. That is to say, he called himself an architect, during a time when there were no licensing requirements for architects in Portland. He has been attributed with designing Portland’s first brick building, constructed in 1853 for Portland pioneer William S. Ladd.

A.B. Hallock ad from the Umpqua Weekly Gazette, May 12, 1855 - courtesy of University of Oregon Historic Oregon Newspaper program.

As with many of Portland’s early power brokers, Hallock was also a local politician, serving on Portland’s city council from 1857 until 1873. During this time he also acted as street commissioner, city surveyor, council president, and even volunteer firefighter. A December 4, 1900 Oregonian article, refers to Hallock as a “political boss” who “came near running the city.” After retiring in 1874, Hallock moved to the Tillamook area where he lived until his death in November 1892. He was buried at Lone Fir Cemetery.

Hallock and McMillan Building circa 1858

To date, little else has been written about Hallock’s work as an architect. He is said to have designed at least 18 early Portland brick buildings, as well as the second Washington County Courthouse, in Hillsboro (1852). Perhaps some earnest Portland historian will recognize the opportunity to further research Hallock’s career, because clearly he was a significant player in the development of early Portland.

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Filed under Events, Historic Preservation