By Kathy Eaton
with photos by Judy Nelson
See our Facebook album with more of Judy Nelson’s Irvington photos here.
Grant Park neighborhood was partially settled in the 1850s, by a donation land claim known as the Bowering Tract, a long and narrow strip of 160 acres from Northeast Fremont to Halsey near Northeast 33rd Avenue. According to Rod Paulson’s Portland Neighborhood Histories, Vol. 1 (Community Press), the property changed ownership among local developers Ellis Hughes, David P. Thompson and John W. Brazee who ultimately sold it in 1887 to Charles Cardinell. The same year, Fernwood was laid out into city blocks. In a plat recorded in August 1924, a subdivision of Grant Park known as Dolph Park was dedicated by Eliza Dolph, a descendent of Charles Cardinell. Dolph had inherited two large tracts in the original Fernwood section between Northeast 28th and 32nd Avenues, from Northeast Thompson to Tillamook Streets.
Grant Park is bounded on the west by Northeast 26th Avenue, on the south by Northeast Broadway to Northeast 37th Avenue, sharing a boundary with Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood. From Northeast 37th Avenue to Northeast 47th Avenue, between Northeast Tillamook and Thompson Streets, Grant Park shares a boundary with the Hollywood neighborhood. Grant Park is bounded by Knott Street on the north from Northeast 26th Avenue to Northeast 33rd Avenue, where the boundary pushes north to Wistaria Drive to Northeast 47th Avenue, its eastern boundary. Six blocks bounded by the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood on the north and Northeast Knott Street on the south is unclaimed.
Created by the Land Ordinance of 1785, the Public Land Survey System, based on a rectangular grid to describe lands, became the surveying method used in the United States to plat or divide lands for sale and settling. The Act set aside section 16 of each township for school purposes and in the western states, section 36 was subsequently added as a school section. Grant Park neighborhood hosts three schools and a city park within its boundaries. The 20-acre Grant Park, named for President Ulysses S. Grant, was acquired by the city in 1922 and Grant High School was built in 1924.
Schools anchor Grant Park
“Portland schools are anchors of the neighborhood,” said Teri Geist, principal of the Beverly Cleary School, including kindergarten through eighth grade. Grant Park is home to two Beverly Cleary campuses: Hollyrood, 3560 N.E. Hollyrood Court, for kindergarten, and Fernwood, 1915 N.E. 33rd Ave., for students in grades two, and four through eight. The third campus is located in Rose City Park, 2334 N.E. 57th Ave., for grades one and three. According to Geist, classes are split because students attending kindergarten through third grade must be located on a building’s ground floor. Today the total enrollment for all three campuses is 850; when Geist took over as principal in 2009, enrollment was 550.
Originally called Fernwood, the school was renamed Beverly Cleary School in 2006 and every year, students celebrate their namesake’s birthday. Children’s author Beverly Cleary grew up in the neighborhood attended Fernwood Grammar School and graduated from Grant High School. Henry Huggins, Cleary’s first book, was published in 1950, and 15 more books were set in the neighborhood. Portland artist Mark Brody is an artist-in-residence at Beverly Cleary School, teaching mosaic art to eighth-grade students who recently completed their fifth project for the school. His new book, Mosaic Garden Projects (Timber Press) is available locally. For more information: See markbrodyart.com.
In 2002, the Hollywood Library commissioned a map made of marble, travertine and limestone, for its entryway to honor Cleary’s contributions. Located at 4040 N.E. Tillamook St., the library provides an illustrated map titled, “Walking with Ramona,” with directions to locations in the neighborhood where Cleary lived as a child, and designates neighborhood landmarks from her books. Named a “Living Legend,” by the Library of Congress in 2000, Cleary has received more than 35 statewide awards, and at age 99, lives in California. For more information: see beverlycleary.com.
Carol Campbell taught biology at Grant High School from 1998 to 2007 and returned as their principal in 2013, after teaching at Benson High School in the interim. Campbell, who earned a doctorate in 2014, emphasizes career technical education and added classes in engineering, computer science, audio engineering, and the performing arts at Grant. Since 2012, the Hollywood Theatre has offered film-making production classes to Grant students. In fall, Grant will add a health care pathway. “Students are excited about the electives we offer,” said Campbell.
Campbell’s first challenge was to guide Grant through a modernization project as part of an eight-year building improvement bond for three Portland area high schools. From day one, Campbell has been working with Grant’s PTA, reaching out to parents and students about the remodel. Michelle Chariton was recently hired by Portland Public Schools as project director for Grant’s modernization project, and will collaborate with Campbell to meet requirements and stay within budget. Sorting out logistical issues of transporting students to Marshall High School in 2017 is a major concern for parents, as students attending Grant live in the neighborhood and Marshall is located six miles away. The newly modernized school is expected to re-open in 2019.
Although a new athletic field at Grant was dedicated in 2013, there are issues yet to be resolved about safety improvements and amenities for its 6-A athletic program, such as lighting for night football games and a fence to secure the area. “The baseball field belongs to the Portland Parks Bureau, but it’s an opportunity now to look at the whole complex while Grant is undergoing modernization,” said Campbell.
Grant Park Neighborhood Association
According to Grant Park Neighborhood Association vice presidents Ron Laster and Ken Peterson, who also serves as the land use and transportation chair, the neighborhood is stable and friendly. Residents tend to stay, often inheriting homes from their parents. Largely residential, with few businesses located within its boundaries, Grant Park has not been affected by apartment construction. Increased traffic in the neighborhood is a top issue of concern to residents, particularly along Knott Street. Peterson anticipates more traffic congestion as the Northeast Broadway corridor extends beyond Grant Park Village. GPNA has submitted comments on the transportation system plan component of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan, recommending solutions to alleviate inefficient traffic patterns and arterial congestion which cause drivers to seek alternate routes through Grant Park neighborhood.
With three schools located within Grant Park’s boundaries, problems have been more situational versus operational according to Laster. Tagging on buildings, trash and some “smash and grab” theft from vehicles have occurred in the neighborhood. Some residents have expressed concern that installation of lights and permanent bleachers at Grant’s athletic field will potentially result in more noise, crime, and exacerbate parking problems in the neighborhood. Laster, who’s lived in Grant Park since 1979, said the GPNA welcomes a formal proposal with recommendations for GHS field improvements to facilitate discussion with neighbors.
“Residents from surrounding neighborhoods visit Grant Park,” said Peterson. “With a few enhancements, the park could be more efficiently used.”
Peterson, a retired Associate Chief Judge for the California workers’ compensation system, moved to Grant Park in 2009. He’s semi-retired, active in the neighborhood association, and enjoys hearing the GHS marching band rehearsing their annual Veteran’s Day parade program on neighborhood streets.
Grant Park residents
Joan and Rick Walker have lived in Grant Park since they married in 2009. Rick, a retired property appraiser, lived directly across the street from the entrance to GHS for 30 years, and raised three sons who attended Grant. “Grant has really improved with more emphasis on academics and access to events,” said Rick.
Joan, a retired teacher from Park Rose Middle School, said there’s not the fracas and fighting today that she recalled when her three sons attended GHS. “One of the first gang shootings occurred in the GHS parking lot in the 1980s,” said Joan. As residents of Grant Park, today they’re more concerned about lack of on-street parking. They both support the need for lights and permanent bleachers at GHS to make full use of Grant’s athletic field. “Whatever the decision is regarding lights, it needs to be compatible with residential use,” said Rick.
Two blocks from the Walkers, Dr. John Worthington and his wife, Alison, live with their two children, who attend Beverly Cleary School. After graduating from the University of Portland, serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years and completing dental school at the University of Southern California, John Worthington and his family returned to Northeast Portland in 2011. He bought GrantPark resident Dr. Lawrence Gagnon’s dental practice located in Hollywood at 1904 N.E. 45th Ave.
“We enjoy living in Grant Park where we have proximity to everything,” said John, whose children participate in the Hollywood Soccer Club and practice at Grant Park. Alison is active with Beverly Cleary School’s PTA and helps out with their annual auction.
“Grant Park is a supportive community and kid-friendly neighborhood,” said Alison, whose family either walks or ride their bikes to the Hollywood Library and Hollywood Farmers Market.
Businesses old and new
In 1932, Grant Park Grocery and Market, 2647 N.E. 33rd Ave., opened for business and thrived for decades until 1985, when the building was repurposed as Family Medical Group Northeast.
The Grant Park QFC grocery store, 1835 N.E. 33rd Avenue, formerly Kienows, has been serving residents for 40 years. According to store manager Roger Dowell, neighbors value the selection in a smaller grocery store footprint, ample parking, and great customer service. On school days, GHS students swarm QFC to pick up lunch.
Other popular lunchtime destinations in Grant Park include Nicholas Restaurant, 3223 N.E. Broadway, serving Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, and Sweet Basil Thai Restaurant, 3135 N.E. Broadway, which welcomes diners to enjoy their garden patio.
Gordon’s Fireplace Shop, 3300 N.E. Broadway, is one of the oldest businesses in the neighborhood that shares a boundary with Sullivan’s Gulch. Overlook resident Sharon Sullivan has worked at Gordon’s for the past 14 years and worked there previously when it was Tarlow’s Furniture. In the 1920s, the building served as an aircraft production facility where parts were made from spruce trees. As depicted in vintage photographs, the building originally extended on the eastside where a parking lot now sits. For more information: See alamedahistory.org.
The former Albina Fuel site located between I-84 and Northeast Broadway, west of Northeast 33rd Avenue, was acquired by Capstone Partners in 2013. The property now includes Grant Park Village, 3215 N.E. Weidler. Of its 211 apartment units, about 60 percent are leased, and 100 percent of the ground-level retail spaces are leased, according to development manager Lauren Golden Jones. New Seasons Market and Mud Bay pet supply store are popular retail destinations at the development.
Although the project is sited within the boundaries of Sullivan’s Gulch, the developers branded it Grant Park Village, as the name had broader recognition and resonated with residents, according to Jones. “We added ‘village’ to signify that we’re part of the larger neighborhood and to build on the neighborhood’s history,” said Jones
To ameliorate traffic concerns and improve pedestrian safety, Capstone paid for installation of a traffic light at Northeast 32nd Avenue and Broadway. The residents of Grant Park Village enjoy many amenities, and GPV recently partnered with IOTAS, a company providing smart home technology. For more information: See grantparkvillage.com or call (503) 288-8326.