By Kathy Eaton
with photos by Judy Nelson
See our Facebook album with more of Judy Nelson’s Vernon neighborhood photos here.
Established two years after the Lewis and Clark Exposition commemorated 100 years of their exploration in the Oregon Territory, the Rose City Park neighborhood was platted in 1907. The neighborhood is bounded by Northeast 47th Avenue on the west, Northeast 65th on the east, Northeast Fremont Street on the north and I-84 on the south. When it was founded, Rose City Park neighborhood was purely residential, and developers were threatened with strict penalties for establishing shops, saloons, hotels, livery stables, factories or any businesses within its boundaries, according to Rod Paulson (Community Press).
During the past several decades, many Rose City Park neighborhood historic buildings have survived remodeling and renovation.
Rose City Park Golf Course
In 1922, A.H. Jay Gould and others formed the Rose City Golf Association when the city of Portland closed the Rose City Speedway. Gould received permission from the city park bureau to burn the tall grass on the infield and carved out a nine-hole course. Using tin cans for cups, the course opened to the public in 1923. The RCP golf course was the second municipal golf course in Portland, following East Moreland. The RCP golf course was known then as “a place where the average public golfer could experience the country club life,” said Hank Childs, general manager of RCP golf clubhouse since 1994.
In 1927, Portland architect Herbert A. Angell designed the English cottage-style clubhouse, but construction was delayed by the Depression, and supporters couldn’t raise funds needed to build it. The goal was always to be self-supporting and not tax citizens for the public course, according to Childs. The clubhouse was ultimately built in 1932 at a cost of $20,250. Bernardine Grabel, who lived in the second floor attic of the clubhouse, was the first concessionaire. During the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) allocated funds to remodel some of the first nine holes, but not the clubhouse building.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the RCP clubhouse on the National Register of Historic Places. Childs and a board of advisors are now proposing to preserve the interior of the clubhouse. Upstairs, in an area not open to the public, original fir floors and solid beamed ceilings are covered with insulation. Childs is excited about restoring a huge brick fireplace that’s boarded up and hidden from view on the main level. For more information, visit rosecitygc.com or call (503) 253-4744.
German American Society
In 2011, Wolfgang Werner, then president of the German American Society, 5626 N.E. Alameda St., was actively involved in acquiring the former Masonic Lodge building. The Society preserved the 1912 cornerstone, but faced major challenges in preserving a structure with additions built in 1933 and 1955 that had not been well cared for, according to Werner. His goal was to ensure that the renovations were compatible with the neighborhood’s architectural styles. Large windows were added to the south side annex facing Sandy Boulevard, which is today used as an event hall. With original woodwork restored, the lobby is now warm and inviting to members and guests.
Members of the Society, which was founded in 1871 as a benevolent society to assist fellow Germans, originally planned to build and operate a German hospital. Later, when plans fell through to open a German orphanage, they repurposed the building as a retirement facility, which operated for 91 years until closing in 2003. Today, five affiliate clubs, including the German Ladies Relief and the Liedertafel Harmonie Portland Choir are part of the German American Society, which Werner described as a non-profit, socially-driven German cultural club. On Saturdays, German language classes are offered in the building’s renovated second floor, now accessible by an elevator. The facility is available for rental, and weddings are popular in this venue. For more information, visit germanamerican.org or call (503) 775-1585.
Southeast Asian Vicariate
Our Lady of LaVang Church, part of the Southeast Asian Vicariate established to assist Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees, is located next door to the German American Society. Cooperating as good neighbors, the two organizations share their respective parking lots. A block west of Our Lady of LaVang church sits St. Rose of Lima Church, 2727 N.E. 54th Ave., a distinctive Spanish-style building. The Holy Child Sisters staffed the adjacent St. Rose School from 1913 to 1986 and built Holy Child Convent and Academy (a high school for girls) diagonally across the street from St. Rose Church. In 1986, a growing Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Catholic refugee population, which had conducted worship and ministry at St. Rose from 1976 until 1986, moved into the former Holy Child Academy and became a separate parish: the S.E. Asian Vicariate (Our Lady of LaVang Church). Today, the three-story former convent is used by 800 Vietnamese students who attend religious classes there on weekends.
Part of the Archdiocese of Portland since 1975, Our Lady of LaVang is the only Vietnamese Catholic church in Oregon, located at 5404 N.E. Alameda Dr. Rev. Bartholomew Pham Huu Dat has served as pastor for six years, having moved to Portland from New Orleans. Serving more than 5,000 congregants, three parochial pastors serve Vietnamese parishioners in Tigard (St. Anthony), Beaverton (Holy Trinity) and Salem (St. Joseph). Weekdays, Mass is said in a small chapel with colorful glass windows, located next to Our Lady of LaVang Church. For more information, visit gxlavangoregon.com or call (503) 249-5892.
Rose City Park United Methodist Church
In 1913, Rev. Dr. William Youngson founded the Rose City Park (RCP) United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda St. They held services in an outside tent until the building cornerstone was laid in 1925, according to Kay Pettygrove, church secretary and historian. Pettygrove is descended from Portland co-founder Francis Pettygrove and has attended the Church for fourteen years. “At one time, this was the only Protestant church east of the Willamette River,” said Pettygrove. At its height, there were 2,500 parishioners; today’s congregation numbers about 350, according to Pettygrove.
RCP United Methodist Church has one of the largest collections of Povey art glass windows in Portland. The original list included 26 windows, but it’s believed that 29 were eventually installed. During subsequent remodeling, six were removed and stored. A window depicting Moses is part of a trilogy of Biblical leaders that was removed in 1951 when the education wing was attached to the main sanctuary.
“Moses is in the church’s north tower,” said Pettygrove. “We’ve got to get him out of the wilderness,” she said. Three of the windows are in the Holman music room, but the largest Povey window is in the sanctuary. The Honor Rose Window, which Rev. Youngson dedicated to three women in his immediate family named Honor, depicts a twelve-foot figure of Christ in the top section. The bottom portion of the window shows Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy teaching in the temple.
The Povey art glass windows are painted and are not stained glass, according to Pettygrove. Povey Brothers Studio was based in Portland and active from 1888 to 1928. Their church windows were designed in classical style with images painted on glass inspired by religious works of art from the Italian Renaissance. Several of the art glass windows in RCP United Methodist Church reflect the Poveys’ signature designs using roses, lilies, grape clusters and birds. The windows vary in size and some are tucked in nooks and crannies of the sanctuary. Pettygrove’s favorite window is Sic Te Amo (thus do I love thee), a smaller window depicting an angel child with outstretched arms, located in the foyer of the main entrance to the church.
With its service-oriented mission, RCP United Methodist Church is open to everyone, according to Pettygrove. For more information, visit rcpumc.org or call (503) 281-1229.
RCP Neighborhood Association
Today, increased density resulting from redevelopment along Northeast Sandy Boulevard is a top issue facing RCP’s neighborhood association chair, Tamara DeRidder. Elected chair in June 2014, DeRidder’s lived in RCP since 1986 and is principal owner of TDR & Associates, a land-use planning, policy, and facilitation firm. When she’s not working, DeRidder paddles with the Golden Dragons, a women’s rowing team, and sings in the choir at St. Michaels and All Angel Episcopal Church.
DeRidder predicts that the development on Southeast Division and Belmont streets will soon move to Sandy Boulevard. Many long-term RCP neighborhood residents want to preserve the 45-foot height. However the city is proposing changing the current commercial zone to a mixed-use zone to achieve greater density and allow buildings to have eight stories.
DeRidder also serves on Portland Providence Medical Center’s (PPMC) campus and parking committees, representing Rose City Park Neighborhood Association’s interests relative to traffic and parking impacts. She expressed concerns about pedestrian safety on narrow sidewalks near the Northeast 60th Avenue MAX station at Halsey St., the southern boundary of RCP neighborhood.
In December, the RCPNA notified the Portland City Council of strong support to resolve issues related to demolition, major remodeling, and infill development, advising them that there’s a diversity of perspectives on how to handle these issues. Their letter is posted to the rcpna.org website. The next RCPNA general membership meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015 at the German American Society, 5626 N.E. Alameda St.
Rose City Park residents enjoy a smorgasbord of neighborhood dining choices, whether it’s German, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, or Spanish, to tempt everyone’s palate. Der Rheinlander restaurant and Gustav’s Bier Stube, 5035 N.E. Sandy Blvd., is a popular venue for authentic German food and beer. Ohana Hawaiian Cafe, 6320 N.E. Sandy Blvd., lists kahlua pig and charbroiled salmon on the menu. Pho An Sandy, 6236 N.E. Sandy Blvd., offers Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pho) that’s rated among the best bowl restaurant in town. Clyde’s Prime Rib restaurant and bar, 5474 N.E. Sandy Blvd., is an old-school steakhouse that features live jazz, blues and R&B music. Since 2009, Cabezon, 5200 N.E. Sacramento St., has featured locally sourced seafood as well as beef and pork from local farms. The name Cabezon has two meanings: it’s a Pacific coastal predatory scorpion fish, and in Spanish, the word means stubborn and bullheaded.
RCP neighborhood resident Sue MacMillan said recently, “We go there because it’s warm, inviting and the food is amazing. You’re not a stranger any more when you dine at Cabezon.”