Aero Club, 1981

The first of these side-by-side buildings was the old Knights of Columbus building, build circa 1920. The other, less architecturally inspiring, building adjoined it on the west side. The two formed the Aero Club and they stood at SW Park and Taylor until 1998 when they were demolished and replaced with the Paramount Hotel.

(City of Portland Archives)

(City of Portland Archives)

56 thoughts on “Aero Club, 1981

  1. In 1982, I worked for a sheet metal shop, where the owner had years of sign experience. we were asked to present a proposal to create a metal sculpture for the front of the building that would fill the large space shown above (at the 2nd floor). Somewhere I still have the sketches we used in our presentation.

  2. My father worked for the Aero Club in the 60’s, from breakfast, lunch & dinner, and usually don’t come home until after the last guests departed. When they have special events, like birthdays, holidays, my father would stay up late to help serve. He was their #1 bus-boy. He’d walk home 10 blocks to our apartment on 624 SW Mill Street (now a 4 story high parking structure for PSU), carrying a bag of coins from his tips, wrapped in cloth napkin. They have big bands playing, ballroom dancing, think of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s era. That’s what Aero Club has to offer! During their events, he would bring home lots of prizes leftover from their decorations. Once used, they throw them away and start with new ones. My dad recycled them, just enough for his daughters! It was almost a pleasure waiting up for him, even during school nights.
    Here’s one part I’ll never forget. . . . . when my father’s co-workers heard that his family from the Philippines are moving to Portland for good, they gave him a shower. That first night we got home from the airport, he showed us his closet right outside our apartment door, (hallway) pulled a string to turn on the light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and there a closet-full of stash! But he told us to be very quiet, there are people who are sleeping down the hall, but in the morning we could all move them out of there and open them up. OMG! I’ve never seen so much STUFF, enough kitchen, bathroom, and family stuff for four. Many of those are still being used or hidden today.

    My husband’s grandfather, was a KOIN-radio DJ known as Johnnie Walker, used to attend business party functions there, in the 30’s & 40’s.

  3. I have a couple of large plaster arches and pillars that I have been told were cut out of the Aero Club before the demolition. Does anyone have any interior photos of the club? ……..hopefully showing where these were?

  4. I grew up learning to swim at the Aero Club in the 1950s. The swim coach was Ty Steinbeck. One of the girls went on to the U.S. Olympic team. There was a “secret” passage up to the fourth floor past the bars and – I think – handball courts(?). We would sneak up there to see what the grown-ups were doing.

  5. My parents were members of the Aero Club through most of the 1970s. They met a number of folks there with whom they stayed friends the rest of their lives. I spent hours and hours there. I swam thousands of laps and got my junior lifeguard certification in that basement pool. On the fourth (top) floor I played some raquetball on the singular court and shot a million buckets in the gym, with its short court and wood backboards. From that fourth floor, too, I dumped countless little Dixie Cups of cold water down on hapless pedestrians walking innocently down Park Street. You could kind of run amok there because their wasn’t anything going on on the second and third floors on weekday afternoons, and there were lots of hidden places, including the aforementioned “secret passage” (just a narrow stairwell running up the back that employees had to use to stay out of sight of the members), and because I spent most of my time there after school when there weren’t a lot of members around. The members that were there were likely in the basement swimming, working out on the “state of the art” Universal Gym, or taking a steam.

    My first job was at the Aero Club. A man named Leroy worked as the mens locker room attendant from forever. I filled in for Leroy for two weeks in the summer of 1976 while he took a vacation. I’m sure Leroy did more, but all I had to do was keep the dry sauna room, steam room, and shower area picked up, and make sure there were lots of clean towels everywhere — oh, and make sure the sauna was stocked with newspapers and magazines, especially porn magazines like “Juggs”, “Stag”,”High Society”, and “Cheri”. Leroy seemed to me to be making pretty good money from the tips he’d get for shining members shoes. In those days men were obsessed with keeping a shine on their loafers and their leather dress shoes, and Leroy shined shoes constantly, as did I during those two weeks. Leroy was a master of the art. I was tolerated by the unreasonably kind gentlemen and they tipped me generously. They must have felt obligated to keep up their routine and probably thought I could do no permanent damage before the Master returned. I continued to work the locker room job on Saturdays for some time.

    Everybody loved the manager of the club during the latter seventies; a young guy named Bruce Logan, who had started as the club’s “athletic director”. I believe the sentiment was that he made great strides in improving the club, which had seen a decline before he came. I remember when Bruce left it was a real loss for everyone. That may have been the beginning of the end for the Aero Club. I’ll take it that the club was formed as a social-athletic club for pilots and those in the aviation business, but by the seventies the membership was opened up to anyone who could pay the dues. (Probably there were some other restrictions that weren’t written into the bylaws — I never saw a black member, for instance.}

    My parents primarily used the club socially. They went to “parties” there every weekend. They drank and danced to a live “combo” (as Mom used to called bands) in the big ballroom that was on the second floor, I think. I don’t remember what was on the third floor. Maybe there was a dining room on the second floor and the ballroom was on the third. I wasn’t interested in any of that stuff the adults were doing, and they didn’t seem interested in having me around during their soirées, so I’m fuzzy on floors two and three.

    My mom took golf lessons with some of the other ladies (from Bruce, I’m pretty sure) and she discovered she loved to play. My Dad got back into the game and their Aero club friends evolved into golfing buddies. My folks eventually gave up their Aero Club membership and joined Columbia Edgewater Country Club, where they remained very active until they moved to Kansas City in 1983.

    I grew up in the West Hills, which had a fair amount of economic diversity back then. My parents could never have afforded the Multnomah Club, but a lot of my friends’ parents were members there. The Aero Club was a very small operation compared to the MAC. I used to always tell people the Aero Club was like a poor man’s Multnomah Club. I stand by that description generally still.

    I remember fondly the fantastic cheeseburgers they served me (free when I worked, sometimes even when I wasn’t working!) in the lounge on the first floor off the main lobby. Uniquely tasty!

  6. I swam for the Vancouver Elks in the 1950’s — the Aero Club was one of the three top Portland swim clubs — along with the Multnomah Athletic Club and the Columbia Athletic Club — and produced great swimmers. One I remember competing against often (and beating only rarely) was Bill Slawson.

  7. Francis and Harry Gardner of “Lake” Oswego were members of the Aero Club for many years back in the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s. They had two daughters that swam for the club back in the 50’s, Judith Ann and Pamela Gardener. I just got done cleaning out an old box of trophies, medals, awards and ribbons that my wife won there in the 50’s. These were mementos her father had kept over the years and now that they are both gone I am passing them on to our sons. Ty Steinbeck was also my wife Judy’s coach. I would imagine that Judy Kaminsky and Judi Gardner swam together at some time, or at least knew of one another.

  8. Allen – I worked at the Aero Club in the late ’70’s until the early ”80’s when it closed I have “boxes” of old photo stored I will be more than happy to scan and share with you when I find them. I know of the :”pillars and arches” you mentioned They were most likely from the window openings on the second floor dinning room which was part of the original Knights of Columbus building. I was fortunate enough back then to have access to many photo and remodel archives. I saw pictures of that same room in the ’30s and ’40s when the covered those windows with a false wall and back lighting from floor to ceiling. Very stylish back then I suppose……

    It is nice to hear you have interest in the old Aero Club, and it’s history. One of the most depressing days of my life was when I attended the auction at the Areo Club to sell off it’s furnishings and fixtures. It was much like having a used care salesman standing a a podium in my mother’s dining room selling her keepsakes and personal belongings to strangers that had NO personal attachment or appreciation for any item what so ever.
    This auction company actually had the audacity to bring items in from other estates or properties that had NOTHING to do with the Aero Club or it’s history. Many long time members were there as well. I can assure you the auctioneer and his associates were put in their places and set back a few notches on several occasions that afternoon!

    The membership and employees of the Areo Club were a loyal bunch of people. I still keep in contact with many of them to this day. When I have more time, I look forward to commenting and responding to the other posts on this site regarding the Aero Club.

  9. Hi Flory, My name is Mark. I’m trying to track down more information on Eddie. Please give me a call @ 323/270-4199. I can explain my interest if we can speak. Anytime is fine. Thanks!!

  10. I have heard of him mentioned about Eddie & the head waitress. but my father’s dead, I no nothing more. Sorry!

  11. Thanks for your response!! If you can ever remember your father mentioning his last name please let me know. Mark

  12. I have two Aero Club menus and would love to pass them on to someone who wants them. Any takers?

  13. My memories of the Aero Club center on the swimming pool, where I practiced techniques taught by Ty Steinbock. That is the same pool where I hit the wall head-on and chipped my front tooth.

  14. Hi Jay – I’m sorry, but don’t have the menus anymore. I should have returned to this site to post that.

  15. My husband Steve Heathman remembers swimming there in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. He and his relay team of Lindsay Fulton, Kim Kelly, Joe Tennant, held the state record for the medley relay for a single day. The record was broken later that night by the Multnomah Club team.

  16. I remember going there as a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and a guest of a member in 1967. Great memories.

  17. 1967 was around the time the club remodeled the third floor ballroom, and much of the main bar and grill on the main level. It must have have been an impressive place to see back then. I worked at the Aero Club in the early ’80’s. Still enjoy hearing about it’s better days. What a wonderful club it was.

  18. I worked at the Aero Club in 77-78 in the locker room on Saturday’s when my friend who usually had the shift could not. His father Don Shattuck was a member. Picking up towels, shinning shoes and having the run of the place was pretty cool for a young kid. We explored every part of that building and had a cheeseburger for lunch. I remember the masseuse Claude always wearing all white.

  19. Tye Steinbach recruited me from the Neighborhood House around 1964 when I was about 11. Swam for Tye for another four years. The small, close-knit team fell apart after Tye moved us out to the Olympic Athletic Club, a brand new facility with an Olympic-sized pool. Any kid whose family could afford membership and could swim a lap or two could be on the team. Too many kids to coach.

  20. In the early 70’s when I was 16 I worked for a janitorial company called the Busy Boom who was contracted to clean the building nightly. It was an amazing place… the basement had a nice pool and locker rooms… the 1st floor had reception and business offices with a bar in the back two banquet rooms and a place to just lounge. The 2nd floor was the main dinning room with the kitchen. The 3rd floor had the main ball room with 3 giant glass chandeliers… I temember taking them appart piece by piece and washing the glass in the 3rd floor bar dishwasher. The 4th floor was a basketball and racquetball court. I wish they had not taken it down…

  21. I took swimming lessons there from Ty Steinbeck back in 1965. He was awesome and changed my life. He didn’t just teach me to swim better or even to give me new skills; Ty taught me to never give up, to push intil you win and do it again and again. He taught me what it meant to be a threat to my competitor, to be a winner. Thanks Ty.
    Jeff Hayes

  22. I played the piano in the piano bar in 1970 but my father Jack was the main pianist. I just played a couple of nights a week. I doubt anyone remembers me. He was very good.

  23. Was the Aero Club,ever called the “Cabot Club”? Might have been back in the early 20th century. Thanks for any help.

  24. My grandmother was a chef at the Aero club for many years. I spent a lot of time in that kitchen and learned to swim there as well. Great memories.

  25. My uncle Glen Anderson recently contacted me to help him find some pictures of a celebration of the Kitty Hawk Anniversary held at the Aero Club in 1953? He remembers 4 honored guests including retired 4 star generals and a Major Doolittle. I hope someone out there has some pics or can tell me where to look!

  26. My maternal Grandfather, E.E. Kovtynovich, was in charge of maintenance at the Aero Club when I was growing up in the 50-60’s. Any photos or information would be welcomed! He lived to be 103, a Ukrainian immigrant, and raised a fine family.

  27. My grandmother was a hatcheck girl in the 60’s. Does anyone have any pictures? She was one of 3 Asian women. Her name was Alice Sue and she worked there with Leah and Lillian.

  28. Despite the tiny pool, 18 2/3 yards if I’m not mistaken, the Aero Club turned out top swimmers. Tye Steinbach was part of the reason for success but they had other excellent coaches as well. Don Schollander started at the Aero Club but soon moved to MAC, which had a better swim program. There were a number of swimmers who started at the Aero Club and went on to hold world records or swim in the Olympics.

  29. No wonder I haven’t come across the Aero Club building. (I’ve lived away from Ptld for a long time before returning.) Another sad example of demolishing historical Portland. My Dad belonged, although he was neither aeronautically-employed or well to do. I learned to swim at their pool.

  30. Our entire NE Portland Neighborhood, 10 – 12 kids took swimming lessons at the Aero club from “Mr Horn”. Graduation was jumping off the diving board & swimming to the side. We were tiny kids & that was scary then. We all passed. Will never forget… That was the day that water became my friend. Fond memories.

  31. My brothers Lindsay and Steve and I swam for the Aero Club in the 1962 thru 67 era of Coach Steinbach. Steve and I swam the relays with Rich Dodge and Brad Pickens and later with Tyes son. We won the NW Jr Olympics at both relay events and set many records for our age group around the Northwest. Swam thousand of laps at practice in the 25 yard pool. We loved to eat in the restaurant with my parents….tuna sandwiches and cola with a cherry! I still have my Aero Club Swim Team warmup jacket with the Jr Olympic Winners patches and I have pics of Brad, Rich, Steve and I proudly wearing our warmups with the patches. Scott.

  32. Scott: My father was one of the busboys during after 1963. He always wore a white shirt, tie & a suit, with a smile on his face, working 3 shifts.

  33. Wow! Well, I was never at the Aero Club, but I need to submit this comment to thank and honor Ty Steinbeck for having saved me from drowning when I was about 10 years old (1961). It was in McMinnville, OR, where I grew up. He was on lifeguard duty one pool-crowded Saturday afternoon in the summer. My mom sent me to get my older sister so we could go home. I decided to go across the pool rather than around it to fetch her. It was splashy and packed with other kids. I guess my foot slipped and I remember seeing beautiful, luminous, aqua bubbles all around my face. The next thing I knew, I was sputtering and coughing by the side of the pool, with no idea what had happened. My sister saw the whole thing — she had wanted to save me, but Ty flew into the pool and in a flash I was out of there! She was THRILLED, because he was her swim coach and she adored him. Mom, who was completely unaware of any of this, came walking from the other side of the pool where my sister and I were sitting pool’s edge while I recovered (Ty had disappeared from sight). I remember her saying, “Girls! What are you doing sitting there? It’s time to go!” She was horrified when my sister explained it to her, of course. The worst thing is, for some very strange reason, I never got to see him after that to thank him for literally having saved my life! Maybe he moved up to Portland and the Aero Club the next day, for all I know.

    I was just relating this old story to a friend and decided to Google Ty to see if I could find anything on him. I am so grateful that this Vintage Portland site appeared so that, all these long years later, I could put out a heartfelt Thank You to Ty Steinbeck for saving my life! At least the love and positive energy gets out there to folks who remember him and know what a lovely man he was. Thank you!

  34. Lucy – I was fortunate to find an original photo of of Tye Steinbech with his daughter circa 1963 on Ebay a few months ago. Back side of the photo is hand written:
    “Tye Steinbech & Daughter., Times – Park Board Greenlake Swim.” Also attached is a glued piece of paper stamped July 27, 1963. TYE SEINBACH, COACH, REJOICED WITH HIS DAUGHTER. (Nancy won three firsts for the Portland’s Aero Club.)

    It’s yours’ if you want it. I worked for for the Aero Club in it’s latter years in a service capacity for a short 4 year period of time. Long enough to hear stories and gain a appreciation for what the club once was. Tye Steinbech remained a legend, even in 1979.

    I purchased this photo along with allot of other Aero Club memorabilia for my collection at the same time. Best it go to you.

  35. Hello, Terry ~

    How nice of you to think in my direction about the photo of Tye Steinbach. Sweet to be in a circle with this, and I appreciate your offer of passing the photo along to me. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not a photo keeper at all! The photo would be lost on me — I would not know what to do with it. I’m not a keeper of any sort of memorabilia — all that’s important to me is in my heart and in my head. I’m sorry to throw a bucket of cold water on your lovely offer to give me the photo; you’re a gracious soul! All the best to you ~

    On Sat, Nov 16, 2019 at 7:36 PM Vintage Portland wrote:

    > terry pence commented: “Lucy – I was fortunate to find an original photo > of of Tye Steinbech with his daughter circa 1963 on Ebay a few months ago. > Back side of the photo is hand written: “Tye Steinbech & Daughter., Times – > Park Board Greenlake Swim.” Also attached is a ” >

  36. I used to be a member and play basketball there in the late 70’s, they had old cast iron radiators along the sides of the courts. Was pretty dangerous in retrospect, I crashed into one once and was lucky to avoid serious injury. It was always a low key, friendly place.

  37. I swam for Ty at Aero club from 63-67 . He worked us hard and Made us winners. We had a power house senior men’s group. Greg and Trevor Charlton, Phi and Ray Burke, John Van Wyk, John Birch, Jim Cain, Bob Mills, Steve Warner, and others. We trained at Jantzen beach pool in summers. I still have a first place trophy for 100 meter breastroke summer of ‘66. The women’s team was fantastic also. Great memories from that short (54’) hot pool and ancient dressing rooms.

  38. Just today I bought some small dessert plates that were from a large set of China from the aero club. I found them in a vintage shop in Astoria and there are many more if anyone is interested, they are at Astoria Vintage Hardware.

  39. I worked at the Aero Club from the late 70’s till the early 80’s. It was a really interesting place to work considering I was recruited out of my college food service program by Bruce Logan to work with Elinore Reinmiller(forgive my spelling of her name). She and I fought like cats and dogs for the first year lol. Then one day we exploded at each other over how to cook a sandwich. Once we worked stuff out we became good friends

  40. A whole neighborhood NE Portland kids took swimming lessons @ the Aero club in the mid ‘50’s to early ‘60’s from Mr. Horn.

    He was a great teacher, we had a great time & all learned to swim confidently. Good memories of that big pool & the challenges we overcame there.

    Bill Kincaid

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