Portland: Historical Architecture

As a native of Portland, I have seen the city change quite a bit during my time here. Today there are more cranes than ever as the city is rapidly growing. It is almost difficult to walk the sidewalks with so much construction everywhere. Since I am a person who is fascinated with architecture, I set out to capture some older buildings. These buildings are beautiful in their own way and have a story.

Empty Streets Downtown Portland

Discovering the streets of Portland early on a Sunday morning meant I could wander around before the city awoke. It was magical! These are some of the places I went to.

First Presbyterian Church

FIrst Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church was built in 1888 after relocating 2 times. It is a beautiful old church that is well kept with a multi-level wooden interior and cherry wood floors. As with many old churches, it is worth a visit just to see the beauty of the building both inside and out. I love the detail that goes into these buildings, especially with the contrasting city skyline. It is like two different worlds have combined into one. Out of all the old churches in downtown Portland, this is definitely my favorite.

Jakes Famous Crawfish

Jakes Famous Crawfish

Jake’s Famous Crawfish is one of the oldest restaurants in Portland which was built in 1892. Some U.S. Presidents have even eaten here along with a multitude of celebrities over the years. Inside you will find pictures of many of the famous people who have visited along with some old paintings on the wall. You can get lost just in the artwork and photos in the bar, especially after a few quality drinks. The happy hour food is great too.

US Bank Buildings “Old and New”

US Bank Buildings Big Pink

United States National Bank was built in 1917 in a Roman classical style. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside you will find a 26,000 pound vault made with steel from the USS Missouri. This was one of the first US Bank locations, and behind it towering is the a much larger US Bank building. There is definitely more character in the older building than in “Big Pink“. Walking into this bank is like walking into the past. There is even a noticeable crack in the middle of the floor which is where they expanded the building in 1925.

Kennedy School


Photo by George Kelly  Creative Commons

This old school was built in 1915 and has been re-purposed as a unique hotel by the McMenamins chain. The hotel has multiple bars, restaurants, a theater, and an outdoor patio. I appreciate the fact that they use this building in this manner as it preserves the history of the place. It is interesting to learn about a historical building while drinking beer in Detention Bar. I am also fascinated by the Boiler Room Restaurant, which is filled with pipes and old radiators used as railing. It is a fun place to take guests from out of town.

8490206703_19e177db98_oPhoto by Quinn Dombrowski Creative Commons

Other McMenamins locations include old churches, historic hotels, and theaters. These have been repurposed as concert venues, movie theater pubs, restaurants, and hotels. I’ve gone to many of them and enjoyed them all.

Being a Tourist in Portland

Portland is rich in history, and even though I am a native, I have learned a lot about it recently. It is fun to be a tourist in your home town every once in a while. I look forward to seeing the historical buildings in other cities around the world.

Broadway Street Portland Oregon

What interesting architecture do you have where you live?

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3 thoughts on “Portland: Historical Architecture

    1. Thanks! If you are ever up here again, you are welcome to contact us for some local tips for food, and activities.

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