NE Union & Knott, 1929

At first glance you’d think these two imposing homes on NE Union Avenue at Knott Street are long gone. Surprisingly, they both still stand today, as does the third home in the background. It appears both have had the elevated ground excavated and the basements removed so the first floors sit at street level today.

A2009-009.1053 NE Union & Knott 1929(City of Portland Archives)

13 thoughts on “NE Union & Knott, 1929

  1. Dear Vintage PDX:

    First, thank you for all the images of early Portland. As an native of Portland, now exiled for some 40 plus years, I look forward to your posts. As to the picture on NE Union and Knott, wouldn’t it seem more likely that the ground was filled in around the basements in a later road project as opposed to having the basements removed (and the houses presumably lowered?)

  2. Great photo… I actually have paintings from the early 1900’s of the couple who owned the house on the corner. They were Mr. and Mrs. Ole Andrias Jensen. His name and home address, 562 Union Ave North, are written in pencil on the back of his painting. I am not sure if the picture of her is his first or second wife.

    He was born in 1858 in Norway and immigrated to the United States in 1883. Ole married his first wife Christine H. Christensen on December 23, 1903. They had a bitter divorce that was granted on October 22, 1909. Ole is listed at the Union Ave address, employed as a ship’s carpenter, from 1904 until his death on August 28, 1915, leaving his widowed second wife Otilie Kirstina Jensen. She was listed as Matilda in the 1915 directory and is last listed at this address in 1917 under the name Othilie K Jensen. He is buried at Lonefir Cemetery. Ole did have a son with his second wife who was born on February 27, 1912 although he is not mentioned in his obituary. I could not find any more information on his son or wives.

  3. I think these first two buildings were actually lowered for the commercial spaces below. If you look at today’s street view, the steps for the third to the street are still existing. So I would assume that building has not changed.

    Now, look at the elevation of the second building from the corner. The second floor in the old picture is at the top of the columns of the third buildings porch at roughly the same elevation.

    In the current day street view, the second floor is roughly at the bottom the third buildings porch.

  4. I think Timah is right looking at the third building. It’s roughly 4-5′ above the sidewalk. I appears that these buildings were lowered that amount.
    Often these street were filled to increase right of way, or the buildings frontages clipped back as on Burnside. The only thing is lowering these must have been incredibly expensive as opposed to new construction, even in those days. Maybe Dr. Muck wanted a lowered view from the third floor!

  5. Unfortunately the Oregon Dental Board only lists active licensees (other than those with board actions against them) so no info on Dr. Muck there. Google search finds a Dr. George Muck, Dental Director of Regence BCBS of Oregon, in 2008 but he’s not currently licensed. Son or grandson would be my guess.

  6. The dentist in question was Dr. Earl C. Muck (1903-1990). He practiced at three different Union Ave. locations (incl. one shown here) within a short distance of each other for 54 years, retiring in 1979. He was an amateur geologist, member of the Portland Symphonic Choir, and record-setting blood donor from WWII onward. Charming profile of him in The Oregonian, 10 July 1979, p 42.

  7. wow!! I eat breakfast there quite a lot! this is so cool! This is why I look forward to looking at this site every day and seeing the cool stuff that tells the story of this town I love. Thank you!

  8. Either the street right of way on MLK as well as on Knott has been widened, or the houses have not only been lowered, but moved out toward the street. In the early picture, there is 5-6 feet between the back of the sidewalk and the face of the houses on M.L.King Blvd. In today’s street view, those house faces are right at the back of the walk (and presumably the right of way edge). It’s possible there was a widening of King Blvd. presaged by the appearance of the Number Man. Doesn’t seem that they’d widen Knott though. Maybe just near the corner. I do think the houses were lowered, though, as I don’t think the ground was raised that much on ML King Blvd.

  9. Looks like the whole lower floors were extensively reconstructed (and joined!). Must have been quite a project.

  10. Doug, you’re right. Union Avenue was widened the year after the Number Man photos were taken on the street. You can see it in a lot of photos posted here, and if you take a walk on MLK now you can see the evidence – building facades cut off and then re-attached, with presumably some feet cut off the buildings; also, residential homes with tiny front yards. One apartment building was lifted up and moved back….

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