Portland Real Estate

Portland’s 1889 Glisan Building for sale

Kells Building 4One of downtown Portland’s historic buildings is going on the market. The iconic Glisan Building at 112 SW 2nd Ave. has been listed with John Kohnstamm, principal broker, SIOR, with Capacity Commercial Group of Portland.

The two-story Glisan Building offers 9,000-square-feet plus a basement. It has been seismically upgraded, has a modern elevator, and breaks up well for two tenants. The building has been lovingly and passionately restored and maintained by its current owners, the McAleese Family of Portland.

Built in 1889 and named after Dr. Rodney L. Glisan, the building features Queen Anne Italianate style architecture with a flat roofline, pedimented doors, projecting eaves, and tall, arch-headed windows. It is famous for being the last structure in Portland to use cast-iron pilasters and columns. Portland is home to the second-largest collection of cast-iron architecture in the United States, just behind New York City’s historic Soho District.
Glisan Building
Currently home to the renowned Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub, the building has been in the McAleese Family since 1990. The upstairs originally served as the offices for Dr. Glisan, while the main floor hosted a creamery. It also served as a location for Chown Electric Supply Co. in the 1960s. The building is a City of Portland Historic Landmark within the Portland Skidmore/Old Town Historic District, which was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 for its historic importance as a major 19th century West Coast port and for its collection of cast-iron commercial architecture.

Interested parties are encouraged to contact John Kohnstamm directly at or at 503-542-4355; or Nick Diamond at or at 503-222-2655.

Portland historic preservation

Beer and history for the win

857A1CE0-C2F3-4CBC-9CA0-84FD5C60FFBD.JPGThe historic I. O. O. F. Orient Lodge / P.P.A.A. building at SE 6th and Alder is now the most-excellent Loyal Legion Beer Hall. 

Originally built in 1908 it was described as a “handsome reinforced concrete building.”

From the Loyal Legion’s website:

The P.P.A.A. building was an architectural “unauthorized copy” of the Voysey building in London, England.  The building was originally commissioned by the International Organization Of Oddfellows (I.O.O.F.) and was named the Orient Lodge #17 at its completion. The Lodge was used as the I.O.O.F. meeting hall through the first half of the 1900s.  Some of the most advanced building techniques of the day were used at its construction such as a complete steel-reinforced concrete structure which was unheard of on the East side of the river at the time.

It’s a great place to grab a beer and burger and soak up some local history if you’re ever in Portland.

Rendering from 1908 (Oregonian).
Portland historic preservation

The Henry is getting an ‘Occupied Seismic Remodel’

IMG_1281The Henry, in downtown Portland, built in 1909, is having some work done on it.

The proposed design (well, now obviously approved) includes:

repairing or replacing deteriorating existing exterior building features, upgrading the building to minimum life-safety seismic requirements, reprograming the level 1 and basement use, and add approximately 1,870 square feet to the six-story mixed-use development.

And, what’s an occupied remodel? Just what it sounds like:

As part of the project, a partially occupied renovation requirement exists in the development and construction agreements. The partial occupancy requirement includes maintaining periodic occupancy of two ground floor commercial tenants through phased construction.

When it originally opened in 1909, the apartment building was described as one of “the most stately, distinctive and best arranged office buildings on the coast.”

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Oregon History Portland History

East Portland: Evolution of a small city

West’s Block building on SE Grand: Now home to AHC’s headquarters. Bult in 1883 and possibly the oldest standing building on Grand Ave.

What we think of today as Portland covers a broad swath of land on both sides of the Willamette River. In the late 19th century, that same area contained several mostly independent communities, including Albina, St. Johns, Sellwood—and East Portland, a small city on the eastern shore of the river roughly bounded by Division Street to the south, 12th Avenue to the east, and Sullivan’s Gulch to the north. While people had lived in this area for far longer than recorded history, East Portland only existed as an official city for two decades before merging with Portland and Albina in 1891.

The Architectural Heritage Center’s (AHC) current exhibit, East Portland: A Changing Landscape, a Forgotten City, explores the area and its history in imagery and displays (hint: there once was a huge body of water that sliced through SE—imagine crossing a bridge over SE Grand).

Here’s an interview I did with AHC’s Val Ballestrem on the exhibit and how SE Portland has changed since its beginnings. The exhibit runs through April 2020 —go check it out!

What was the motivation behind the exhibit?
We recognized that it was a story that has been given very little attention over the years. In the process of researching, the most recent published history of East Portland (other than photo books) I could find was written in 1930! We had already been considering an East Portland exhibit when we became aware of the After Promontory exhibit. Once we were on board with hosting After Promontory, it made sense for us to do the East Portland exhibit at the same time.

Was the eastside primarily industry mixed with housing and apartments? Did any of the people that lived east “commute” to downtown or stay eastside?
From the 1870s onward, there were always industries near to the river, but because of the landscape, much of the land west of present-day MLK Jr. Blvd. remained undeveloped until into the first two decades of the 20th century. There were some houses and hotels in that area, but most were on bits of land that stayed high and dry during Willamette River flooding. The earliest concentrations of housing in East Portland were east of MLK and north of Oak Street. Housing in that area shows up in some of the earliest photos of the area. To the south, the housing was a little more sparse, in part due to the large presence of the Hawthorne (or Asylum) Slough that cut a large swath through the area south of Stark St. as well as a sizable amount of land set aside for what was then called the Oregon Hospital for the Insane. There was also quite a bit of land at the south end of East Portland that was used as farmland.

 By the 1880s, it was clear that the east side was viewed as a residential suburb of Portland even though it was still its own city. There was a lot of flat lands as you moved farther away from the river, making home building easier. It took until 1887, however, for the first bridge to appear (Morrison St.), which immediately led to the rise of streetcar suburbs on the eastside. I’m sure there were lots of people using the various ferries that crossed the river prior to the arrival of the bridges. It should also be noted that one of the details that came out of consolidation in 1891, was that all of the bridges became free to use. East-siders had been clamoring for this – probably most of whom needed to get to work or otherwise conduct business on the west side.


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Can you talk about the pond that once existed? When was it finally filled in?
There was a spring-fed slough that cut through East Portland from about present-day Madison St. and 11th (adjacent to the asylum), north toward Belmont, and then north and east toward the river. Early maps and photos show this slough that by the end of the 1880s had been cut off from the river and was considered as a pond. The Goat Blocks development was built on some of the land where there was once a slough/pond. Also, the building that includes Next Adventure at SE Grand and Stark was built on the filled-in pond.

 Basically East Portland was bisected by this slough. There was a 15 – 20 foot ridge that ran along MLK roughly between Stark and Hawthorne, this is why much of the land west of MLK and south of Stark remained undeveloped until it was filled in. The early roads in that area were built on pilings as were many buildings.

If you’re trying to explain the boundaries of East Portland to someone today, what would that be?
The city boundaries of East Portland were roughly the river, Division St., 12th and approximately what is now Lloyd Blvd (or I-84). The Central Eastside today encompasses this entire area, but extends to Powell at the south.

 Was there a particular industry that reigned?
Food-related businesses (especially processing businesses) show up pretty early in East Portland, including canneries and meatpackers. There were grain mills on the east side from the 1850s onward. Gideon Tibbetts’ flour mill was the first, but was to the south of East Portland, near Clinton and 11th. In later years (after 1900) wholesale grocers started to become more prominent. Since lumber was necessary for growing cities, lumber mills showed up pretty early as well, but really dominated the southern end of what was East Portland into the 20th century.


How did the arrival of the railroad impact east Portland?
The simple answer is that the construction of the railroad, beginning at the end of the 1860s, led East Portlanders like James B. Stephens, to envision a city that could perhaps rival their west side neighbor. Over a couple of decades, the railroad helped transform what was initially a farming village into a small, industrial-minded city.


Adaptive Reuse Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Portland History

New Spaces, Old Places: Blake McFall Building

New Spaces, Old Places is an occasional look at adaptive reuse projects around Oregon and beyond.

Also known as the Emmett Building in Portland’s Central Eastside, the five-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by McNaughton & Raymond of Portland and built in 1915, it was added to the register in 1990.

Blake McFall Building under construction, 1915.
Under construction, 1915.

Here’s what the Oregonian had to say about it in its July 1915 issue:

The second floor, reached by a fireproof viaduct from Burnside street will contain the offices, salesmen’s quarters, rest rooms and space for sample display and the balance of the building will be given up to general paper storage.

Total cost: $90,000.

If you’ve been in Portland for any amount of time, you’ll know this building better as the Towne Storage building. Up until a few years back, it was low-rent space for local artists. In 2016, it was retrofitted to include:

seismic strengthening, window sash replacement and refurbishment, brick and stone restoration, a new enhanced exterior entry and main lobby, restoration of the iconic steel water tower, and the addition of a new 8,750 SF Penthouse set-back on the roof with two exterior landscaped decks.

Blake McFall Company Building pre retrofit
Pre-retrofit. Source.
Blake McFall Building after retrofit.
Post retrofit. The water tower was kept intact. Source.
Adaptive Reuse Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Portland History

Crowdfunding a neighborhood hang-out: Ye Olde Towne Crier

Crowdfunding for retrofitting local buildings is one intriguing idea. I like it for a couple of reasons: One, the return is making your own neighborhood better or more livable and two the return is pretty immediate. You invest in a building around the corner, you can see the work being done daily. I also like it because you don’t have to invest handfuls of cash—for a crowdfunding site like NextSeed, the minimum is $100. Throw in an adaptive reuse component and it sounds even more appealing.

Towne Crier
Rendering of the new version. Source.

This brings us to a local project in Portland (in Woodstock): the Ye Olde Towne Crier (you might know it better as Grandma’s, copious smoking, and karaoke). Here’s the scoop: Tacee Webb, who has a 19 year career in retail, real estate and retail development, is retrofitting the space and naming it (actually going back to its original name) Ye Olde Towne Crier. The goal is to retrofit it “as a multi-level ode to Portland’s past and its current residents, a place to chat and dine among one another and enjoy the city’s brightest talent.”

So, why NextSeed? According to their website, “investing isn’t just for Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Everyone can now access exclusive investment opportunities and build a financial portfolio with local businesses.” The company focuses on helping consumer-facing, brick-and-mortar businesses in the food and beverage, health and wellness, fitness, hospitality and co-working industries.

Towne Crier 1953
Towne Crier, 1953. Source. 

And, according to Webb, by using NextSeed, “the risk is being absorbed so you don’t have to lose your house. It’s a higher risk for start-ups; this lets them get investors in a less riskier way.”

The project currently has raised $13,900 by 30 investors.

Webb hopes the Towne Crier will become a community gathering and destination spot as well as a local hangout for students of the Reed College neighborhood and locals from the Creston-Kenilworth community. The attached Treasury Cafe and Lounge will provide morning-evening service. Nighttime entertainment will include live music and whisky tastings featuring local musicians and artisans. Preeminent spirits expert Stuart Ramsay will oversee curation of the bar program.

“There are so many stories and it feels like a patchwork quilt that’s perfect for a community project,” says Webb. “There are many former customers in their 60s and 70s that have some great stories and we think it will help provide a sense of a place for them.”

The new space will also be a sort of repository for lost Portland restaurant artifacts: The stained glass windows are from Embers, the vintage neon Lounge sign (and its HVAC system) comes from The Overlook, while chandeliers from Der Rheinlander will grace the ceiling.

If you’re interested in helping fund the project (or any project), NextSeed provides some pretty decent details, from key terms, location analysis, and revenue sharing summary.

If you’re interested in retrofitting an old building in your own neighborhood, NextSeed is a good start. It doesn’t actually finance real estate purchases (Webb owns the building; she purchased it in 2017) but it can help you get on the path, and you’re going to need to be nailed down with your financials and have some semblance of a business plan (this is real estate, not a widget you’re working on).

Parting advice from Webb: “Have a strong team and partners. I’m not a restaurateur but my partner is. That’s been so helpful.”