By Kathy Eaton
with photos by Judy Nelson
See our Facebook album with more of Judy Nelson’s Piedmont and Arbor Lodge photos here.
The 160-acre tract of land initially granted to Henry Walsh in 1866, was subsequently acquired by Edward Quackenbush, president of The Investment Company. In 1889, Quackenbush officially platted Piedmont, promoting it as “The Emerald, Portland’s Evergreen Suburb.” Developers touted “low prices, reasonable terms, with certainty of increase in valuation, rendering Piedmont the best offering in the market today.”
Today Piedmont is bounded on the north by Northeast Columbia Boulevard, on the south by Northeast Ainsworth Boulevard, on the west by I-5, and on the east by Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
According to Roy E. Roos’ book, The History of Albina (2008), Quackenbush’s goal was to create a quiet, upper middle-class residential neighborhood. As head of Portland’s Anti-Saloon League, Quackenbush prohibited Piedmont property from use for the manufacture of wines or intoxicating liquors, according to Rod Paulson’s Portland Neighborhood Histories, Vol. 2 (Community Press). By 1909, 140 homes had been built in Piedmont without commercial and industrial encroachment. When Kaiser Shipbuilding Corporation recruited workers to the area during WWII, many of them settled in Piedmont. For a detailed history of Piedmont: Visit piedmontneighborhood.com.
A grand arts and crafts style home built in 1906 at 10 N.E. Ainsworth St., is part of Piedmont’s historic design zone. According to Roos, it may have been a spec house built by well-known Portland architect Alfred H. Faber. The home was once owned by Dr. Dora Underwood, a physician who performed abortions in her office at this residence. Today the current owners, Carolyn and Richard Brown, use the main floor of the historic house for Carolyn’s businesses.
Long-term Piedmont residents
Carolyn Brown, who grew up in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood, moved to Piedmont in 1976. After Montgomery Ward shuttered in 1982 where she’d worked as a catalog merchandiser, Brown started an independent Mary Kay beauty consultant business. “I’ve had many clients for 20-25 years, and have seen them through marriages, births and deaths,” said Brown. For more information: See marykay.com or call 1-800-marykay.
In 2005, Brown started another business, Elegance and More, selling clothing and accessories from the comfort of her home, by appointment only. For more information: Call (503) 317-1980.
Brown is passionate about helping people. For 18 years, she volunteered at Oregon State Hospital, giving facials to mental patients. She believes mental patients are often misunderstood and have a stigma associated with their illness. Since the hospital’s Portland campus closed earlier this year, Brown has recently started volunteering for the North Star Program, a non-profit organization that helps people with mental health challenges. For more information: Visit northstarclubhouse.org or call (971) 271-7273.
Brown also serves the community as a “Pink Ambassador” raising awareness about breast cancer. Last month, Brown distributed informational materials about breast cancer prevention during a “Worship in Pink” coffee hour at the church she attends, Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, 1535 N.E. 17th Ave., in Sullivan’s Gulch.
Del Ray, retired manager of a Portland data center and telecommunications business, has lived in the same house at the northern boundary of Piedmont for 54 years. “Piedmont was once a place where mostly senior retired people lived and I was the youngest resident. Now I’m a senior,” said Ray, smiling.
She enjoys access to public transportation, walking distance to a MAX and bus line, and proximity to Jantzen Beach and Delta Park. Acknowledging traffic from the Interstate Bridge and the pollution that accompanies it, she said noise generated by Portland International Raceway has subsided. “Some neighbors complain about the train noise, but I can’t sleep without hearing the train. I often pretend I’m on the train going somewhere,” said Ray.
In five decades, the biggest change she’s seen in Piedmont is development. Close by, 27 new homes have been built in the neighborhood; 13 are located one block away. The back property was once a farm with chickens, ducks and fruit trees. Developers are building more “rabbit hutches” or skinny homes, according to Ray, who believes her house, situated on a large lot, will likely be torn down to build four or five skinny homes when she sells it. She’d like to see more one-level homes to keep a senior community living in Piedmont.
On one wall of her home, Ray displays vintage family photos, including her Native American grandfather’s mother. The Gayton family is registered with the Standing Rock Tribe in North Dakota where Chief Sitting Bull was confined to a reservation in 1883 until his death in 1890. An aunt tracing her family genealogy learned from her father that Ray may be a descendant of the legendary Lakota chief.
One of Ray’s favorite businesses in Piedmont is Yesterday and Tomorrow, 7505 N. Albina Ave. Recently renamed Spirit of Art Gallery, business owners Jacq and Helen opened the gallery more than 11 years ago, inside a 1912 home. Outside there are two sculpture gardens, and inside, shoppers will find vintage and found treasures. According to Jacq, they once sold two Inca cups that dated to the 1500s. For more information: See yesterdayandtomorrow.biz or call (503) 459-3230.
Parks and recreation
In 1909, Portland acquired the site for Peninsula Park, 700 N. Rosa Parks Way, located in Piedmont. The 17-acre park is home to one of the only sunken rose gardens in Oregon. Peninsula Park Rose Garden hosted the annual rose show from 1913 until 1917 when Washington Park was selected as the site of the International Rose Test Garden. Along with a 100-year-old fountain in the center of the rose garden, the octagonal bandstand overlooking the rose garden was designated a Portland Historic Landmark in 1973. An Italian villa-style community center with two pools and two gyms, was the first built in Portland’s park system in 1913.
Farragut Park, a 14-acre park acquired in 1940, is located at the northern end of Piedmont at North Kerby Avenue and Farragut Street. Named for the Civil War hero who fought for the North, the park includes a splash pad and accessible play area.
Two parks located west of Piedmont are found within the boundaries of Arbor Lodge neighborhood. Gammans Park, named in honor of a Portland lawyer, was acquired in 1910 from his widow who donated six lots between North Buffalo Street and Burrage Avenue.
Acquired in 1940, Arbor Lodge Park, an 8-acre park located between North Bryant Street and Delaware Avenue, is adjacent to Chief Joseph Elementary School, 2409 N. Saratoga St. Within Arbor Lodge Park is Harper’s Playground, built in 2012, as the first Portland area playground with adaptive equipment designed for children of all abilities.
Arbor Lodge History
On April 15, 1889, Duff E. Sherman, a cashier for Oregon National Bank of Portland, submitted the Arbor Lodge plat, according to The History of Albina by Roy Roos. Arbor Lodge neighborhood developed as a residential subdivision around the same time as nearby Piedmont, Pennisular and Overlook neighborhoods. Most of the surrounding areas were platted around the 1890s and 1900s, according to the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Plan, published in 1993.
Arbor Lodge neighborhood is bounded on the north by Northeast Lombard, on the south by Northeast Ainsworth, by I-5 on the east and by Willamette Boulevard and North Chautauqua Avenue on the west.
Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Association land use chair, Nate Young, noted that Ladd’s Portsmouth streetcar line traveling along Northeast Lombard in the 1890s greatly benefited Arbor Lodge neighborhood, resulting in early development that was further bolstered with the Vanport meat packers and Swan Island shipyards.
According to resident Ginger Edwards, who’s lived in Arbor Lodge for 16 years, Arbor Lodge Park was used for military housing during WWII. Although the origin of the neighborhood’s name does not appear to be documented, there are references to Arbor Lodge in city documents dated 1892.
Houses in Arbor Lodge were constructed from about 1910 to 1930. However, the most western portion of the neighborhood known as the Mock’s Crest subdivision was platted after World War II. In 1993, residents pursued historic design district status for the area because of its “fine ensemble of bungalow and post-WWII housing, deep front building setbacks, and unique street lighting.” However, it didn’t qualify for historic designation then as it wasn’t yet 50 years old.
Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Association
Robert Greene, current ALNA vice chair recently said, “Arbor Lodge is a tree and garden neighborhood which is a good place to raise kids and enjoy life.”
ALNA actively supports the community with family-friendly events including an annual pot-luck barbeque, and movies-in-the-park screening. ALNA has partnered with the Kenton neighborhood association to form a single Neighborhood Emergency Team to provide emergency disaster assistance for both neighborhoods. As ALNA land use chair, Young engages Arbor Lodge residents in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. “We dearly hope to see more affordable, accessible housing and nearby jobs as North Lombard turns over in the next decade,” said Young. For more information about ALNA issues and upcoming board elections: See arborlodgeneighborhood.com.
In 2010, Nate Young and his wife Kylene purchased a 1936 Sears kit house, “because we loved what the neighborhood offered: quiet friendly streets with easy car-free access to groceries, restaurants, and more, plus transit and bike access to the rest of Portland and the rest of the world via the nearby airport.”
North Portland Neighborhood Services
Tom Griffin-Velade, director of North Portland Neighborhood Services, a coalition of 11 North Portland neighborhoods, works with both Piedmont and Arbor Lodge neighborhood associations. NPNS provides a consultant role and serves as a fiscal sponsor for projects within those communities, including administering small grant programs. ALNA is sponsoring applications for two grants in 2016: a pesticide-free park in Arbor Lodge Park and a tree planting initiative to put more trees back in Arbor Lodge. According to Griffin-Velade, two issues currently facing Piedmont are development and safety concerns stemming from a rash of shootings this summer.
Arbor Lodge business district
Commercial businesses continue to thrive along North Lombard Street and Interstate Avenue in Arbor Lodge. Anna Vaughn, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer originally from Wisconsin, bikes about three miles from her Arbor Lodge home to work at Portland Athletic Center of Excellence in the King neighborhood. Vaughn shared some of her favorite spots in Arbor Lodge where she’s lived for 18 months: King Burrito, 2924 N. Lombard, for great Mexican food that’s cheap and delivered fast and Green Zebra Grocery, 3011 N. Lombard, where she finds fresh and healthy groceries. On her way to work, Vaughn stops in for coffee at The Arbor Lodge, 1507 N. Rosa Parks Way, and on weekends, she pops into Button, a women’s and children’s consignment store located at 6517 N. Interstate Ave. to check out fashionable clothes and footwear. She frequents the off-leash area of Arbor Lodge Park with Banjo, her Australian shepherd or drops by Gammans Park, located near where she lives.