Forestry Building, 1905

The immense Forestry Building is shown in 1905 during the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, for which it was built. This view is likely due west; stand at the driveway to Old Forestry Commons on NW Upshur Street to be in roughly the same spot today.

A2004-002.2 Forestry Building during the Lewis and Clark Exposition 1905(City of Portland Archives)

22 thoughts on “Forestry Building, 1905

  1. I lived near by on Upshur when it burned down. It was very scary and a real loss to Portland.

  2. I saw this once,when i was 6 yrs old,it was like being in a cathedral.
    sadly,portland never seemed to fund maintenace very well,or it might have sprinklers to protect it from fire.imagine the tourist draw it would be today……

  3. The ” Log Cabin ” was always a highlight of PPS 4th Grade field trips ( via PTC streetcars yet !!! on ” Student Tickets “). Later worked at Monkey Wards and often sate brown bagger inside while re-examining exhibits for a 100th time ( estimated !!!). Actually had a ” Press Pass ” which got a way right up to the fire line until the huge log pillars began to collapse & the roof caved in with a big roar and burst of flames upwards . A very, very spectacular scene and event but a real loss to all Portlanders.

  4. I, too, was one of the lucky ones that had a chance to see this fantastic structure way back when. I think it was almost mandatory when we were kids! I like the earlier description…a cathedral! One just kept looking up.

    My dad worked for Reynolds Metals out in Troutdale at the time and saw the smoke as he was driving home. We lived in the West Hills, the Capitol Hill/Burlingame part of town and I can remember seeing the smoke from that area as well.

    True, such a loss, but one thing for sure…I never played with matches as a kid! No one was ever gonna blame me for something like that!

  5. Are there any buildings left standing from the Lewis and Clark Expo? Seems to me I read at some point this was one.

    I too got to go through the building on a school field trip, and am so glad I had the opportunity, although I was pretty little to really appreciate it that much. I do remember the day it burned – a very hot and dry day. I lived on the west side of Rocky Butte and could see the huge tower of smoke from the west side of town. Very, very sad.

  6. I got to visit it once, and I remember standing on the porch at my Great grandmothers house watching the fire trucks heading to to the fire the day it burned down, it was very sad, she lived between 22nd and 23rd and Thurman, I was 6 years old, I loved that neighborhood remember going to Monkey Wards with my mother and grandmother and getting pop corn and shoe string licorice , then we would go across the street to Rodgers verity store then we would ether walk down to Safeway and get things for lunch or go and get take out at the China Clipper, and take it to my great grandmothers house.

  7. The city government up until the 70″s ran under 2 mandates: keep taxes as low as possible and fill your pockets as much as possible. One of reasons why there was no sprinkler system. I went and saw it on my grade school field trip and was in awe of the place. The description of cathedral fits perfectly. Ironically, a week or two before it burned i had wanted my mother to take there after we went to Monkey Wards but she said no. Her words haunt me to this day “It will always be there, we can go some other time”.

  8. The interior evoked nothing so much as the experience of standing inside a lowland old growth forest for me. The people of Cologne were able to restore their Cathedral and the people of Monte Casino their monastery, They were made of stone and mortar. It will take a thousand years just to regrow the lesser trees to provide the smaller logs used in this structure. Probably a moral here but I’ll leave it to others. I’m just glad to have been around to have seen all of the above.

  9. Wish I had lived here before it burned. The Forestry Building they have now isn’t worth the admission. I’d rather go to the Pittock Mansion…which sadly, could use some major fix-ups also.
    When we moved here 22 yrs ago there were 2 amazing merry go rounds. One was at the Zoo area by the old locomotive and the other was at Burger King on Barbur. Those are both gone now. Anyone know where these vintage merry go rounds went or where they came from?

  10. Christopher Tyle– A far as i know, the only remaining building from the L&C Expo is the National Cash Register Company Building, located at the entrance to the Exposition. It has endured many, many years to have now become the McMenamins St. Johns pub! Some history of the building in the PDF link below:

    Click to access history.StJohns12.pdf

  11. I have to agree with Rod’s premise. When I see pictures of this building I can only think of what a waist of trees. If you want to stand inside a forest then stand inside a forest. Even a not so old growth forest.
    There are a few other buildings that were built around the time of the expo that were outside the boundary that are still around NW portland. Check out this area

  12. I totally agree with comments about the cathedral which the building was and that a field trip there when in PPS was an event not forgotten even at a young age.

    When the fire occurred I remember being on the bluff across the river in the Overlook district and realizing that a part of Portland was disappearing. Unforgettable.

    As for the buildings from the L&C Expo…the story is told in my family that great-granparents who were German immigrants purchased the Chinese Exhibition, disassembled same, put on a barge and took up Columbia River to Carson, Washington (had to go through Cascade Locks…literally) and from the lumber built their home which at one time was also a bakery. My mother and two uncles were born and raised there and it stayed in the family until grandfather’s passing in 1962.

    The home, though remodeled, still stands.

  13. Christopher Tyle,

    In addition to the St. Johns McMenamin’s, there are other bits that survived for a time.

    The Fairmont Hotel still exists as the Fairmont Apartments. It was just outside the entrance to the fairgrounds and was a moderately priced option. Nancy’s link shows some street views around the apartments.

    The center section of the American Inn also still exists. It was for those fairgoers that could afford quite a bit more and was in the fairgrounds proper (I believe). The center section was removed and relocated after the fair. Today it is just down the street from Good Sam’s on (I think) Marshall.

    The Massachusetts Building was also dismantled and moved to the Mt. Tabor area were it became the Josselyn residence, then an asylum before it was demolished.

    There are also two exhibition buildings that were rumored to have been moved to North Portland and repurposed as private homes. I believe one of these is somewhere in the Overlook neighborhood.

  14. Jim– You are a valuable asset to this site. Have you considered doing guided tours of some of the most interesting historical areas of portland? I would certainly attend and even pay to listen to you. I had always wondered about those Fairmount Apartments. Thanks.

    Ron– I have family that goes way back in the Carson / Stevenson area as well. Is that house in the downtown area? very interesting.

  15. Now, now, now…while I can understand the comments regarding “what a waste of trees”, you gotta remember that people didn’t think like that way back then, so it’s a little unfair, at least to me, to judge them according to the way we think today.

    Here’s an interesting thought tho…if this building hadn’t burned down and we still had the opportunity of seeing it, would we be so critical today? After all, if it was still standing, it would be over 100 years old and you also have to remember that it was built for an event, an exhibition, a state centennial, something that would represent the Pacific Northwest and Oregon and it was the perfect thing to use…at least in 1905…so I guess that’s why I never really spent a lot of time worrying about whether it was or wasn’t a waste…I just considered what it was for and when it was built and left it at that.

  16. Jim K,

    I agree with you completely. Particularly considering the fact that the Forestry Building wasn’t just a promotional exhibit for the lumber industry, but also an educational tool that contained exhibits on the flora and fauna of PNW old growth forests.


    Aw shucks. Thanks. T’ain’t nuthin’, but in addition to cash, I accept Visa, Mastercard or Amex. 🙂

  17. There is no doubt in my mind that it would be a candidate for designation as a world heritage site. And yet for the want of a few dollars in fire protection we are left to mourn. We are, I fear, doomed to lose a lot more. Just look around.

  18. When I was a kid we lived on 24th and Johnson, and we would often go to the “big log cabin”. I remember that the huge logs had been soaked in oil or creosote, probably to keep them from rotting, and were almost black. Most of the time, I would be the only one inside the building, other than the somewhat elderly gentleman that was in charge.
    My grandmother, whose family had been in the lumber business, told me that all of the logging crews in the Northwest had a competition to find the biggest logs for the building.
    The “Lincoln House” from the fair, from the State of Illinois, is now next to the Kamm House. The same guy owned both houses, back in the 60’s.
    I was at a garage sale in Oysterville this last weekend, and bought a 10 yard roll of ribbon, which was originally sold at the fair.

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