Monthly Archives: March 2013

Future Uncertain for Now Closed University Station Post Office Building

According to the Portland Business Journal,  St.  Mary’s Academy has purchased the building that, until recently, was home to the University Station Post Office. As yet we don’t know what will become of the building that was once a showroom for the Francis Motor Co. auto dealership.


We do know, however, that the building was designed by architect Richard Sundeleaf in 1946 and constructed in 1948.  Later alterations have taken away some of the International Style flavor of the building but the distinctive exterior columns – a trademark of Sundeleaf’s industrial designs – remain intact. Perhaps St. Mary’s will consider returning the building to its former glory. Given that the building was very solidly constructed, it should be adaptable to new uses.

Francis Auto Sales at 1505 SW 6th Avenue in Portland c.1956. University of Oregon Photograph.

Francis Auto Sales at 1505 SW 6th Avenue in Portland c.1956.  University of Oregon Photograph.

To put this building in context – at the same time it was being constructed,  Pietro Belluschi’s Equitable Building, now the Commonwealth Bldg., was being built at the other end of SW 6th Avenue.  Together these two buildings marked Portland’s entry into post-war commercial architecture and the modern age of glass and aluminum building construction. New uses for aluminum became popular in post-war America as factories shifted away from military applications toward other uses in order to sustain corporate income and employment levels.

Pietro Belluschi's Equitable Building (Commonwealth Bldg.) at 421 SW 6th Avenue. University of Oregon Photo.

Pietro Belluschi’s Equitable Building (Commonwealth Bldg.) at 421 SW 6th Avenue. University of Oregon Photo.

The old Francis Auto Sales building may not be as architecturally significant as the Equitable Bldg., but nonetheless it should not be forgotten for the new age of building construction and the Golden Age of the automobile that it represents.

3 Comments

Filed under Historic Preservation, Modernism + The Recent Past

BREAKING NEWS! Portland City Council Approves Greatly Reduced Fees for Historic Design Review

In a hearing held just this morning, the Portland City Council voted to support a proposed historic design review fee of $250. The City’s Bureau of Development Services had proposed a reduction from the current $950 to $475, but instead the Council supported efforts by the Portland Coalition for Historic Resources to truly make the fees more reasonably priced.

The new fee structure applies to the BDS’ “new Type I” application for smaller and simple projects. This new fee, along with a greatly streamlined historic design review process, takes effect on May 1st, for all Portland Historic and Conservation Districts, and designated Historic Landmarks. The Bosco-Milligan Foundation/Architectural Heritage Center (authors of the Portland Preservation blog) helped form the Portland Coalition for Historic Resources and have worked for nearly a year to simplify the City’s sometimes unpredictable design review process. There will now, as of May 1st, be exemptions for ongoing maintenance and repair, shorter review times, and thanks to City Council today, a $250 flat fee for design review of basic projects. This is indeed a great achievement and makes our preservation advocacy efforts worthwhile!

Leave a comment

Filed under Historic Preservation

Changes May Be in Store at the Historic I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge, No. 17

Willamette Week recently reported, that the Portland Police Athletic Association has sold its building at SE 6th and Alder and plans are in the works for potential redevelopment. With that in mind, we thought it would be interesting to share a little of the building’s history.

The Francis J. Berndt designed I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge, No. 17 located at SE 6th and Alder. Built in 1908.

The Francis J. Berndt designed I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge, No. 17 located at SE 6th and Alder. Built in 1908.

The I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge, No. 17,  was built in 1908 and designed by little-known Portland architect Francis J. Berndt. Berndt was also the designer of the Henry building located at SW 4th and Oak downtown.  We don’t know much about Berndt, but what is most fascinating about his design for the lodge, is how it is almost identical to a building in London, England designed by  C F A Voysey and built only a few years earlier, in 1902. That building was constructed for the Sanderson Wallpaper Company and still stands today – known as Voysey House. Berndt’s Orient Lodge meanwhile, is the only known building in Portland reflecting Voysey’s unique version of an Arts & Crafts industrial building. In fact, according to sources, the wallpaper company building was Voysey’s only industrial building design.

Voysey House in London. Originally Sanderson's Wallpaper factory, the building was designed by C F A Voysey and built in 1902.

Voysey House in London. Originally Sanderson’s Wallpaper factory, the building was designed by C F A Voysey and built in 1902.

Oregonian article from December 20, 1908, announcing the first meeting to be held at the new I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge.

Oregonian article from December 20, 1908, announcing the first meeting to be held at the new I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge No. 17.

We’re still researching, but around 1962, the Portland Police Athletic Association acquired the lodge building from the Odd Fellows. Since that time they have used the upstairs as a gathering place and reportedly a members-only bar. The main floor retail space housed a long-time Portland office supply retailer until a few years ago when they retired and Citizen’s Photo moved into the space.

The I.O.O.F. Orient Lodge, No. 17, is listed as a primary contributing structure in the East Portland-Grand Avenue Historic District. Hopefully with this in mind, the new owners will pursue a renovation that celebrates this historic, architecturally significant, and one-of-a-kind, Portland building.

1 Comment

Filed under Historic Preservation, Local History