Stephens School, 1929

A number man standing outside of Stephens School, located at 1920 SE 7th Avenue, March 26, 1929. The school has also been referred to as the Stephens Vocational Academy.


Stephens School on 1920 SE 7th Avenue, March 26, 1929: A2009-009.330

Stephens School on 1920 SE 7th Avenue, March 26, 1929: A2009-009.330


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15 thoughts on “Stephens School, 1929

  1. What a large wooden building…. and a widow’s walk on the roof? I think of wood school buildings as rural small schools. Of course wood was more available in Portland’s early days and a there were lumber mills along the Willamette.

  2. We forget that there was a time when that part of town had far more residences. By the time of this photo they were already being torn down and replaced by warehouses and other industrial type uses. PGE has a giant substations on the grounds where the school once stood.

  3. Janet, there were many buildings back then that LOOKED like
    stone, but were actually wood! As you said, wood was available and cheap; if you wanted a grand looking structure but didn’t want to pay for stone, you used a bit of trompe l’oiel:

    Not a stitch of stone above the foundation in that one!

  4. This building is an example of an issue that I wrestle with often in the architectural profession. While its a complete shame that it was torn down to the status that we see today, restoration is a difficult and complex task. As spoken earlier, these were made of combustible materials (not stone) and many succumbed to fires. They were used heavily in their time, falling to intermittent maintenance, were built with asbestos materials and painted with lead based paints. They usually didn’t have fire extinguishing systems, had difficult ingress and egress, and were not ADA compliant for the physically challenged and wheelchair accesses. All things that are mandatory in a restoration projects undertaken today (hats off to the McMenamins for taking up the challenge ). It breaks my heart to see these gone, but all of these factors weigh in the decision processes today.

    And now back to regular programming….

  5. @Mike G: You are correct, but I now live in the SF area and frequently take walks in SF just to see this old architecture that was fortunately not torn down. I wish Portland had kept more of their old buildings. Still a beautiful city, but would be even more so with places such as this old school.

  6. It is unfortunate that the school district did not apply the Stephens moniker to a new school elsewhere. Stephens was an important early Portland pioneer and should be remembered. When rail yards and warehouses displaced the working class neighborhood that is the Pearl today, the school district closed Atkinson School near Powell’s and Gerding Theater at the Armory around 1940, and applied the Atkinson name to a new school in Southeast Portland.

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