By Kathy Eaton
with photos by Jane Perkins
See our Facebook album with more of Jane Perkins’ Roseway photos here.
History of merchants
Platted around 1911, the Roseway neighborhood is bounded on the west by Northeast 62nd Avenue, on the north by Northeast Prescott Street, on the east by 82nd Avenue, and on the south by Northeast Sacramento Street. South of Northeast Fremont Street, Roseway is bounded on the west by Northeast 65th Avenue.
In 1985, George A. Denfeld published 65 Years: Lives and Legends in Upper Sandy Boulevard (57th to 82nd), documenting Roseway’s history and events from the early 1920s. In 1947, fifty-four business owners met at the Roseway Theater and formed the Upper Sandy Merchant’s Association, electing Denfeld as the first president. The business group defined its boundaries from Northeast 56th to 83rd Avenues, from Northeast Sacramento to Prescott Street. Denfeld cites 25 grocery stores within the merchant’s association, including George’s Food Market, which he opened in 1935. Denfeld didn’t begin his career in retail, however.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1917, Denfeld taught at several universities before moving to Portland in 1920. By 1925, he left academia and started working at Piggly Wiggly Market, located on Sandy Boulevard and Northeast 78th Avenue. Ten years later, Denfeld opened an independent grocery store, George’s Food Market, when Herb Fairley built an addition to his drug store located at 7206 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Within six months, Piggly Wiggly closed its doors but Denfeld remained in the grocery business for 46 years until his retirement in 1981.
Denfeld, a personal friend of Fred G. Meyer, learned Meyer was evaluating a site on Northeast Sandy Boulevard near 70th Avenue to build a new Fred Meyer shopping center. In 1948, Meyer bought property from Northeast 69th to 71st Avenues and demolished several houses. When Eugene Murray refused to sell his home on Northeast 69th Avenue, Meyer built the Rose City Shopping Centre around Murray’s house. Long-time Roseway resident Bonnie LaDoe recently recalled attending the 1949 carnival-like opening celebration and rode the iconic Ferris wheel that was set up in the parking lot. Cited as one of the largest stores with roof parking, escalator, grocery and drug sections in Portland, Rose City Fred Meyer operated for 42 years until it shuttered in 1991.
Fred Leeson, who authored the definitive biography of Fred Meyer, My-Te-Fine Merchant (Irvington Press, 2013), wrote that approximately 100 small business owners from Sandy Boulevard attended the opening ceremony of the Rose City store. “While homeowners might not want the intrusion of a big store in their neighborhoods, nearby businesses loved Fred Meyer. They fed on the traffic his one-stop shopping centers attracted,” wrote Leeson. In 1991, the Rose City Fred Meyer was leveled and a new Safeway grocery store, 6901 N.E. Sandy Blvd. was built one block west. Murray’s home was removed and relocated to North Portland according to LaDoe.
Northeast Sandy Boulevard cuts diagonally through Roseway, showcasing a handful of businesses that date back to the early 20th century. An independent grocery store built by C. W. Emmrich in 1911 is the oldest commercial building in Roseway. Today, located next door, Pizzeria Otto, 6708 N.E. Sandy, previously housed St. Germaine Cleaners.
Fairley’s Pharmacy opened in 1913 and has been locally owned and operated since. They’ve updated their soda fountain menu to include espresso drinks, in addition to traditional phosphate sodas. Former boxer Joe Pinz bought Roseway Barber Shop, 7220 N.E. Sandy Blvd. in 1956, and his son, Marty joined the family business in 1990. The Roseway Theater, 7229 N.E. Sandy Blvd., opened in 1924 and ownership changed over the decades until Greg Wood acquired it from Bob and Kathy Kane. While the theatrical pipe organ is long gone, the theater’s been substantially renovated while preserving the historical integrity.
A number of Asian markets and businesses moved into Roseway during the 1970s and 1980s, according to long-time resident Ted Carlston. The Rose City Liquor Store, 7253 N.E. Sandy Blvd., was previously an attorney’s office and originally housed a cafe, according to Bonnie LaDoe.
The Portland International District formed in 2007, replacing The Upper Sandy merchants association whose legacy continues today with an international vibe, including Mama Leo’s Restaurant, 6728 N.E. Sandy Blvd., featuring Venezuelan and Columbian cuisine and Bacchi’s Italian Deli, 6633 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Roseway merchants from the last century might be delighted to see vintage items for sale at Dr. Tongue’s I Had That Shoppe, 7129 N.E. Fremont St. and surprised to see Roseway Play Café, which recently opened at 7135-37 N.E. Fremont, serving coffee and pastry to adults while kids play in a fun environment.
Roseway residents witness history
Bonnie LaDoe grew up in Roseway and lived most of her life there before relocating to a retirement community in East Portland earlier this year. LaDoe was 10 years old when her parents moved from North Portland to Roseway in 1947. She attended Gregory Heights School and graduated from Grant High School in 1955. LaDoe began working for U.S. Bank after school during her senior year and didn’t leave until she retired in 1994.
LaDoe is an avid genealogist and has cataloged a treasure trove of historical material and photos featuring Roseway. She’s documented the histories of numerous businesses located in the Upper Sandy business district, including the first Safeway built in 1940 on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. LaDoe has the June 6, 1947 issue of a newspaper serving Roseway that was subsequently named “Upper Sandy News.” Today, 78-years-old LaDoe recalls with clarity what it was like growing up in Roseway and has conducted a few oral history interviews to document life in a neighborhood where she lived for 58 years.
Life-long Roseway resident Ted Carlston recalls when grocer George Denfeld, who lived on Northeast 72nd Avenue, closed his last store at 6127 N.E. Fremont St. “I lived my whole life in Roseway, so I take an interest here,” said Carlston. His grandmother traveled west in 1905 from the Dakotas to attend the Lewis & Clark Expo, and stayed. His grandparents lived on Northeast 76th Avenue, in the same neighborhood where Carlston was raised. “We were dirt poor,” said Carlston, whose family didn’t own a car, and ultimately paid $5,000 for their family home. Carlston still has the baby photo taken in 1954 by the Gerber baby food company who paid his mom for the photos. The first record of his family’s home was 1911, and the sidewalks are dated 1912.
Holly Hood, who grew up on Blue Lake in East County, moved to Roseway 21 years ago from the Hollywood District. While they enjoyed the amenities of Hollywood, at the time it lacked a grocery store, so she and her husband, Miles TeSelle moved to Roseway. The house they found “was painted Pepto Bismol pink on the outside,” said Hood, “but we knew it had potential and bought it.” She recently recalled visiting artist Claude Monet’s home in Giverny, France, noting a similar paint color scheme. “The previous owner must have fancied herself an Impressionist,” said Hood, smiling.
While researching the history of their house, Hood learned it was the original farmhouse on the property settled by Sumner and Eula Clark Newell in 1905. Hood and Teselle are the third owners of the home located in the Belle Crest addition of Roseway.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from Oregon State University, Hood worked veterinary care until she opened a garden retail store, Hollyhocks Garden Essentials located on Southeast Belmont Street. Nine years later, in 2014, Hood found her perfect job as retail buyer of pet supplies for the Oregon Humane Society’s Best Friends Corner, located at 1067 N.E. Columbia Blvd. Hood and her husband have raised two Doberman pinschers while living in Roseway. Hijack, their 3-year-old dog, enjoys walking the perimeter of the nearby Rose City Golf Course with his owners. Hood owned a mare growing up in East County and worked for a horse farm prior to attending college.
“It’s really cheap therapy to be around horses,” she said. Her passion for horses led her to volunteer for Sound Equine Options, a non-profit organization located in Eagle Creek, Oregon. The organization was initially founded to provide food for neglected horses, and they’ve partnered with OHS and other rescue organizations to rescue, train and re-home horses. For more information: See soundequineoptions.org.
According to Hood, Roseway is a quiet working class neighborhood. “It’s a tight-knit community with three generations of families who’ve lived and owned homes here.”
Hood was dismayed to see Rose City Nazarene Church torn down and replaced with Walgreens, 7016 N.E. Sandy Blvd. “Roseway won’t become a vibrant neighborhood unless we implement new zoning laws that provide for mixed use,” said Hood. “Walgreens is a glaring example of how a property could’ve been put to better use.”
Roseway Neighborhood Association breaking records
Erik Carr, current chair of the Roseway Neighborhood Association said Roseway had a record number of volunteers helping with the neighborhood clean-up event in June, and February’s tree planting event at the park blocks was a huge success with 50 volunteers participating. RNA provides a forum to advocate for positive changes for residents and actively supports the business community. “Roseway has an active Tree Team and partners with Portland’s Urban Forestry program to make the park blocks an amazing asset for the community,” said Carr. The RNA anticipates large crowds attending upcoming summer concerts and movies in Wellington and Glenhaven parks. For more information: Visit roseway.org.
Ted Carlston, who works at a small machine shop in Northeast Portland, has served on the board of the Roseway Neighborhood Association and is currently vice chair. He said increased traffic through Roseway represents one of the biggest changes he’s seen during the past 20 years, specifically commuters from downtown Portland who discovered Northeast Sandy Boulevard as the shortest commute distance to I-205. The major arterial, particularly at the intersection of Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Northeast Fremont Street, and Northeast 72nd Avenue, causes safety concerns for residents and the intersection creates confusion for drivers.
Note: Hollywood Star News photographer Judy Nelson is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, but plans to return in September for Out and About in Laurelhurst. Special thanks to Star photographer Jane Perkins for stepping in this month to photograph Roseway.
Correction: In June’s Out and About Column, the name of Portland artist Lee Hunt who created bronze life-size sculptures depicting three Beverly Cleary characters on the westside of Grant Park was inadvertently omitted.