Unidentified Building, c1944 – Help Us Out!

Our last mystery to solve this year is this unidentified building from circa 1944. No location information is given so it could be anywhere in the Portland area (we think). This would appear to be new construction of a public facility; school, library, post office, etc. Any ideas?

Found: Housing Authority of Portland admin building, Columbia Villa

1944 c_building(City of Portland Archives)

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21 Responses to “Unidentified Building, c1944 – Help Us Out!”

  1. Lynette Says:

    Shiny, new building. I hope y’all know all kinds of stuff about it!

  2. Dave Smith Says:

    I wonder if it is the Columbia Villa building right at the entrance to housing project? (I lived in “the villa” during the 60′s)

  3. Todd Says:

    My guess it’s part of some war housing project for WW2. Vanport maybe?

  4. JOe Dunlap Says:

    Looks like part of Vanport to me.

  5. Michael Barber Says:

    WW2 housing in NW industrial area?

  6. Dave Smith Says:


  7. oldoregon Says:

    Looks like Dave got it!

  8. Cyrus Says:

    Dave is too fast. I recognized that building right away! It looked exactly the same even 10 years ago.

  9. NativePDX Says:

    check out


    and you can make a long url into this


  10. Ben Says:

    Funny, I recognized its location by noticing the chimneys in the background off the the left..

  11. Al Webster Says:



  12. Kathryn Schwartz Says:

    Funny to have a person in about the same location in both pictures. As long as you don’t look too close, you can pretend it’s the same guy still standing there…

  13. Dave J. Says:

    We lived in a project called Dekum courts at about 27th and Dekum sts. when I was a kid.

  14. Al Webster Says:

    Here is a site that will provide additional information



  15. Ellen Dittebrandt Says:

    Is it still the Vila. I lived there as a child also. We then moved across the cut. On N. Powers . Dose anyone know the history of that. When it was dug?

  16. Mike Says:

    The St. Johns review wrote an excellent 3 part story on the north Portlnad Cut.

  17. Mike Says:

    Link to the cut story http://www.stjohnsreview.com/sourcefiles/2010/August%2020,%202010.pdf

  18. Al Webster Says:

    By the way Dan,

    That is my Mother walking out the building to her Model A Ford on the right hand side of the picture. Looks like a man at first view but when you zoom in on the picture you will see the person has a full head of hair. Men in the 1940′s did not have that much head hair. I remember Mom going off to work in slacks and she often had the responsibility to be the “last person” out the building to lock up”.

    Al Webster


  19. sharon dunnahoo Says:

    ‘museumof the city.org’ has some interesting facts and photos on Columbia Villas, which was built by the Portland Housing Authority. The interesting fact was they were built to last only 10 years as temporary war housing, but lasted into the 1980s. That was probably why the livibililty declined as it did. When the residents were evicted to demolish the Villas, lots of their pets were left behind, sending animal lovers across the City into rescue mode. I am one of the owners of a fat rescued Villa cat to this day.

  20. Brian Says:

    Actually, from Google Earth you can see the development, including the building in the photo, lasted until at least August of 2003. By July 2004 the entire development was completely demolished.

  21. Ellen Dittebrandt Says:

    Thank you Mike that was nice of you.

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