Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Oregon Real Estate Portland historic preservation Portland History Portland Real Estate

The former Bomber location in Oak Grove is for sale

 John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Source.

Actually, what’s for sale is most of the land that the former restaurant (closed during COVID in 2020) and gas station (closed years ago) and once featured the B-17 Lacey Lady, a WWII-vintage B-17G four-engine Bomber looming over the property.

If you don’t know the story, in 1947, Art Lacey purchased a B-17 bomber for $13,000 and flew it from Oklahoma to Oregon. He then disassembled it, transported it covertly, and placed it atop his 48-pump gas station in Oak Grove. Lacey also opened the Bomber Restaurant and motel. The gas station was closed in 1991.

According to Loopnet, the property is going for $6 million.


Good news for fans of the airplane, it was relocated and is being restored. Once that happens it’s not clear where it will (excuse the pun) land. Probably not at its original location. If I had any guesses, this chunk of the property will be turned into shovel-ready land.

Oregon Design and Architecture Oregon History Portland historic preservation Portland History

Modern mystery in Oak Grove

A reader shared images of a phenomenal home located off of SE Oatfield and Roethe Road in Oak Grove (near Milwaukie, Ore.)

Here’s what they said:

This is a picture taken probably in the late 40’s by our Mom of her Mothers property which was on Oatfield road near Roethe. I remember this building on the Eastern border of her property.  I don’t think it was there after the 1960s but it looks like a very modern home with a Frank Lloyd Wright style to it.  They would have had an amazing view.  Not sure who owned that horse.  The house must have been off Roethe Rd east of Oatfield.  Perhaps someday I’ll drive out there and see if I can figure out where it might have been.

Any ideas from readers out there?

Oregon History

Meet Milwaukie Manor

This doesn’t happen often enough around here: grand old home for sale, on a big lot, needs repair, someone buys it, then restores it. (You know the other side of that story. (Cough demolition cough). 

A couple of years back the Skulason House in Milwaukie, Ore., (a wonderful Dutch Colonial Revival built in 1913) went up for sale. Sitting near the Providence Milwaukie Hospital, things didn’t look good. 

When it was originally built, The Oregonian reported “Among the most attractive and pretentious homes to rise in Portland’s suburbs has just been completed in Milwaukie. The house is a striking empire style of architecture.” ⁣⁣
It cost $12,000 to build. ⁣⁣

When it went up for sale a few years back the listing had the words many preservationists fear: “opportunity to develop the land.” Enter the new owners:  the Bernards family, who had a different, better idea and a vision.

Owners of the Interior Design Firm, Studio MacLeod with close ties to MacLeod Construction, they focus on historical restorations in Portland and Milwaukie. After purchasing the home and property, the husband and wife team quickly got to work on their dream of restoring the historical home, room by room. Renaming the property to Milwaukie Manor with a top to bottom, interior and exterior complete revamp of the property, the new owners also plan on making the exterior space into an event space for weddings, music, events, and parties.

This personal restoration project will be one that they say will be room by room, top to bottom, and interior and exterior complete revamp of this unique property.

Look for updates on their Instagram page. And if you have any information on the Skulason House, post it in the comments. 

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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Portland Real Estate

On the market: Downtown Portland’s 1890s Concord Building


The Concord Building (built in the 1890s) is on the market for $7,500,000.

The property was built in 1896 and has been recently renovated including a refreshed lobby and updates to interior tenant spaces to showcase the building’s historic character. 

According to the listing:

The 27,747 square-foot historic asset ideally located at the base of the Morrison Bridge in the heart of the CBD’s Technology Triangle. With occupancy of 64.5% and a weighted average lease term of 3.9 years, the property offers a rare opportunity for new ownership to add immediate value by completing lease-up in Portland’s dynamic and competitive office market.




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Visit the listing to find out more.

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.