United Sheet Metal Works – Mystery Location

This lovely little 1878 cast-iron-fronted building was photographed in 1967 when it graced a Portland street. Its name and precise location are both unrecorded but a couple of subtle clues allow you to zero in on a location. Did you reach the same conclusion as I did? As always, happy hunting!

(University of Oregon Libraries)

11 thoughts on “United Sheet Metal Works – Mystery Location

  1. This one makes me sadder than most- a well maintained building that looks to have made it almost to the era of when we should have known better. Interesting how the upper floor windows have been reduced in size, withen their cast-iron framing.

    My guess would be on Front, between Main and Salmon. Sheet metal was just the sort of business that had settled in the area- I believe the Feicheimer & White building once held a sheet metal business as well. The odd numbered address would put it on the west side of the street, the only side with buildings after 1940. The 1878 date places it five years after the great fire, which destroyed everything in that area, having started nearby. Possibly a coincidence or possibly a clue is the name of the business: United Sheet Metal- it was the United Railway that once ran down Front after the turn of the century.

    If I am correct, a google maps street view of 1031 SW Naito Parkway shows the soul-sucking mediocrity that replaced that block of buildings.

  2. I think Dan makes a good argument, but my guess is that United Sheet Metal was on 1st Ave. between Main & Salmon, rather than on Front.

    The picture shows two cars pointed in the same direction — since the street numbers are odd and therefore on the west side of the street, the cars are pointing south.

    I wasn’t around in 1967, and I don’t know when the one-way system was put into place in downtown Portland, but nowadays, cars pointing south indicates either Front or 1st Ave., since 2nd Ave. is one way pointing north, and the west side of 3rd Ave. in the 1000 block is a park.

    The Sanborn map for 1950 (you can look at these online via the library’s website, if you have a library card: http://www.multcolib.org/ref/a2z.html#S) shows a building one lot north of Main on 1st Ave. with the addresses 1031-1035, labeled “TIN SHOP.” The building on the corner, just south of 1031-1035, is labeled “REST” (restaurant), which fits, since the photograph shows the right side of a sign that appears to read “LUNCH Coca-Cola.”

    The Sanborn map for the relevant block on Front Ave. (now SW Naito Pkwy.) is all stores, and it doesn’t have the right street numbers.

  3. I’m guessing on 1st ave between Salmon and Main. You can clearly see the address is 1031. Also – you can see the ‘rnal’ from the Oregon Journal building in a reflection in the window. That was housed in the Portland Market building on Yamhill street and the waterfront.

  4. oh shoot- the sanborn maps of east portland in the 1880s show different street names back then.

    E Washington was Present-day Lincoln, just w of Ladds Addition

    and i’m also reasoning that address i found is for “silverton United Sheet Metal Works”

    so i take it all back


  5. My initial conclusion was the one Dan Haneckow reached; Front between Salmon and Main. The reflection of the Oregon Journal building on the east side of Front bolstered that conclusion, but I was troubled by the reflection of another building in front of the Journal. Emily-Jane’s research of the Sanborn map I believe is terrific and accounts for a building between our building and the Oregon Journal. I’m going with her that this was 1031-1035 SW 1st Avenue.

  6. According to “The Grand Era of Cast-Iron Architecture in Portland” by William Hawkins III this is the 1878 Heuschuch & Schmidt Building. To the right is the 1879? Harris Building

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