By Kathy Eaton
with photos by Judy Nelson
See our Facebook album with more of Judy Nelson’s Montavilla and North Tabor photos here.
Originally named Mount Tabor Villa, the Montavilla neighborhood was platted in 1889 by H.C. Campbell, who represented a group of investors. Campbell also oversaw construction of the Morrison Bridge, which was completed in 1887 and sold to the city of Portland in 1895 for $150,000, according to Rod Paulson’s Portland Neighborhood Histories, Vol. 2 (Community Press). For conversational ease, settlers soon shortened the name to Montavilla. Stark Street was originally known as Base Line Road as all townships north and south were measured from it.
By 1890, Montavilla boasted three grocery stores, a couple of meat markets, a livery stable, a privately owned bank and two blacksmith shops. For more information: See montavillapdx.org/overview. Today Montavilla offers affordable housing for artists to live and work in.
Milepost 5: artists in Montavilla
In 2009, Portland Mayor Sam Adams envisioned a campus with affordable living space and working studios for local artists by re-purposing the shuttered 80-year-old Baptist Manor Nursing Home in Montavilla. Milepost 5 on Base Line Road near the intersection of Southeast 78th Ave. and Stark Street, once marked the spot that was geographically five miles from the city’s center. Honoring the past by naming the buildings and campus Milepost 5, 850 N.E. 81st Ave., the community of artists pursue their passions whether it’s theater, painting, sculpture, photography, music, writing or design.
The campus consists of two buildings:
The Studios. Includes 96 apartments, (small, dorm-like rooms with community kitchens and bathrooms). Rents range from $300 to $900 per month.
The Loft. A 54-unit condominium complex. Units are individually owned by artists who want to live and work in proximity to other artists.
James Halvorson, originally from South Dakota, is a mixed-media painter who’s lived at Milepost 5 for three years. He’s motivated and inspired by interacting with other artists creating original work. Jessica Joy, another Milepost 5 resident and theater artist, returned to Portland after living in New York City for 12 years. Four months ago, musician and oil painter Wesley Britt moved to Milepost 5 because of the low rent, allowing him to dedicate time to his artistry by doing, rather than talking about it.
Artists at Milepost 5 recently attained non-profit status. They’ve opened a cafe and manage a community events rental space in the spot that formerly housed the Post 5 Theatre. Milepost 5 has three exhibit galleries, which are curated bi-monthly and in which visiting artists are invited to feature their work as well.
Julie Thompson, a fashion and interior designer who became the community manager at Milepost 5 in August 2014, said “Milepost 5 is on the upswing and finally realizing its potential.” For more information: Visit milepost5.net.
Businesses thrive on Southeast Stark
Today Southeast Stark Street is a popular destination for residents who walk or bike to shops, restaurants and the Academy Theater.
The Bipartisan Cafe, 7901 S.E. Stark St., which opened in 2005, is a popular gathering place for coffee drinkers and pastry aficionados. Popular restaurants like Country Cat, 7937 S.E. Stark St., draw large crowds on weekends for brunch and weeknights for dinner. Open since 1999, Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant, 8005 S.E. Stark St. is one of the oldest businesses on the street and offers traditional dishes like falafel and shawarma, according to manager Pascal Attar. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the Coogan family rode their bikes from Mt. Tabor to Ya Hala for lunch, then headed to the Academy Theater, 7818 S.E. Stark St., to see the movie “Paddington” with their two children and a neighbor’s child.
La Bouffee International Gourmet, 8015 S.E. Stark St., offers a variety of local and international products. La Bouffee is a French slang term for “food,” according to manager Bader Hamieh, who’s worked there for seven years. In addition to selling olive oil in bulk from Spain, the store offers “spices and rices” from all over the world.
In 2009, Jett Wyatt purchased Personal Beast Pet Store, 8119 S.E. Stark St. “Businesses have breathed new life into the neighborhood,” said Jess Theobold, who’s worked at Personal Beast for more than three years. Jacklyn Arvin, co-owner of Maven Collective, offering vintage antiques and decor at 7819 S.E. Stark St., shops at Personal Beast for her puppy supplies. In 2010, Anna Fickle opened Branch Birdie, 8021 S.E. Stark St., featuring women’s and kids’ clothes, handcrafted jewelry and specialty gift items.
Montavilla Neighborhood Association
The Montavilla neighborhood spans Northeast and Southeast Portland, with 82nd Avenue dominating its geographic center. Although crime statistics reflected a decline in vandalism and drug-related crime, there were elevated levels of larceny and simple assaults in 2014, compared to bordering neighborhoods, according to Montavilla public safety chair, Benjamin Kerensa.
“The public still perceives 82nd Avenue as a negative place,” said Lew Scholl, Montavilla’s land use and transportation chair. In 2015, ODOT plans to invest $7 million in 82nd Avenue intersection improvements, according to Scholl.
Montavilla neighborhood association chair Fritz Hirsch is optimistic about the redevelopment of 82nd Avenue, or Avenue of the Roses: “In five to ten years, the public will be astonished at the results of redevelopment along 82nd Avenue. It’ll be more than just rows of used car lots,” said Hirsch.
Montavilla neighborhood is home to an annual jazz festival featuring originally composed music performed by local musicians. The festival is sponsored by Neil Mattson, owner of Montavilla Guitar Studio, 1178 S.E. 86th Ave. The fourth annual street fair on Southeast Stark is being planned for August 2015, and summer months will see First Friday on Southeast Stark. The weekly Montavilla Farmers Market located at Southeast Stark Street-Washington Street Alley, opens in June.
Once predominantly farmland, North Tabor was originally part of Mt. Tabor and was known as Center neighborhood.
North Tabor: Center of providence
Platted in June 1889 by a group of investors, long-time Oregonian editor Harvey Scott once described Mt. Tabor as an area having “an atmosphere of the most healing and balsamic purity.” Mt. Tabor crowns the summit of an extinct volcano, and was developed after the street car line opened in 1892.
In 1858, Archbishop Blanchet of Oregon City requested that the Sisters of Providence, founded in Quebec, build a hospital in Oregon. Fifteen years later, St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic charitable organization, offered a block of land and cash for construction of a hospital that opened in Northwest Portland in 1875. Mother Joseph led the design team and oversaw construction of the 75-bed hospital. A second St. Vincent Hospital subsequently opened downtown, and the sisters built a school of nursing. In 1941, the sisters opened a 448-bed Providence Hospital, known today as Portland Providence Medical Center, 4805 N. E. Glisan St. Two years ago, the last remaining nun moved from the medical center to Seattle; however, the hospital still provides the former convent quarters for nurses interning at Providence.
In 1945, the Sisters of Providence founded the Providence Child Center, which includes a center for medically fragile children. The Swindells resource center supports parents and caregivers of children with special needs, developmental delays or disabilities. For more information: Visit oregon.providence.org/our-services/s/swindells-resource-center/.
Portland Providence Medical Center today
Part of Providence Health & Services, Portland Providence Medical Center is a not-for-profit network of hospitals, health plans, physicians, clinics and affiliated health services, with 3,111 employees and 1,200 medical staff members. Portland Providence Medical Center is recognized for excellence in patient care and research in areas such as cancer, heart, orthopedics, women’s health and rehabilitation services.
Jean Powell Marks, Portland Providence Medical Center’s public affairs manager, highlighted recent milestones:
2008: established the Providence Cancer Center, 819 N.E. 47th Ave. Dr. Walter J. Urba spearheaded Providence’s cancer research efforts and today is internationally recognized as a leader and pioneer in immunotherapy, which is based on the premise that the body’s own immune system can fight cancer.
2013: opened a neonatal intensive clinic for its tiniest patients.
2014: established My Little Waiting Room. This free childcare service is provided by professional child caregivers on a daily basis.
2015: projected opening of a 30-unit guest housing project located at Northeast Glisan Street and 46th Avenue to be a home away from home for visiting patients and their families. Guest housing will include private rooms with common areas and kitchens. For more information: See oregon.providence.org.
Good neighbor agreement
Judy Kennedy and her husband, Jim, have lived in their North Tabor home since 1970; Judy has actively participated on Portland Providence Medical Center’s Good Neighbor Agreement committee. Comprised of two representatives each from Laurelhurst and North Tabor neighborhoods, Kennedy said Portland Providence Medical Center is responsive to neighbors’ concerns. Providence Voice, a 1974 Portland Providence Medical Center publication, showed no parking structures on campus. “The neighborhood issues were the same back then: parking and traffic,” said Kennedy. Most recently Portland Providence Medical Center sought neighborhood input on the exterior design of the guest housing project, to ensure conformance with neighborhood architectural styles. Residents appreciate Portland Providence Medical Center for implementing a telephone hot line, (503) 215-0615, for neighbors to report parking and smoking violations to Portland Providence Medical Center security.
North Tabor businesses then and now
Kennedy recently recalled when Hill’s Market occupied the building where Starbucks is located now, at 4500 N.E. Glisan St., and American Dream Pizza, 4620 N.E. Glisan St., opened in 1985, was formerly a shoe repair shop. Portland’s Police Bureau Traffic Division, Northeast 47th Avenue and East Burnside Street, replaced a former Safeway, and is located across the street from the Laurelhurst Cafe, 4611 E. Burnside St., a popular neighborhood restaurant.
In 2012, Ken “Zig” Naffziger stumbled into the North Tabor neighborhood and established Tabor Tavern, 5325 E. Burnside. “The Tabor burger and fish and chips are popular with diners, and we sell six-ounce jars of our signature bacon jam,” said Naffziger, who plans to open a second restaurant in Kenton. Opening in May, Swift and Union, 8103 N. Denver, is named in honor of the meat packing companies that founded the Kenton neighborhood in 1906.
North Tabor neighborhood association
“We may be the only neighborhood in Portland without a school, park, or community center,” said Terry Dublinski-Milton, North Tabor transportation and land use planning chair. In his opinion, the top two issues facing the neighborhood association are lack of affordable housing, and pedestrian and bike safety concerns, particularly east of Northeast 60th Avenue.
Dublinski-Milton is passionate about pursuing a park for the neighborhood. “Rosemont Bluff, a 2.11-acre natural area at Northeast Hassalo and 68th Avenue, acquired in 1995 as a protected area, will remain undeveloped,” said Dublinski-Milton. But he’s hoping a few parcels located near East Burnside and Northeast 52nd Avenue will become available for Portland Parks and Recreation to acquire and develop a park. Comments on the 2015 Comprehensive Plan from the North Tabor neighborhood association are posted to their website, northtabor.org.