17 thoughts on “SW 2nd Avenue, 1956

  1. It looks like this was either the Northeast corner or the Southeast corner. If it was the NE, then this was the Davenport Block and the tall building at the end of the block is still extant.

  2. gilbert bros, 814 – 26 sw 2nd. that might make the tall building in background the one on corner of yamhill and 2nd with 1890 on it?
    if so, these buildings are gone, replaced by a 2-story arcade-lookin’ thing.

  3. It would be interesting to see the. Building before it was “modernised” all the original detail has been lost with new exterior rendering.

  4. i wonder if the demolition of the building to the left had anything to do with the fire. richard, you’re good at finding reams of data about our subjects 🙂

  5. This arson fire caused $375,000 in damage during the evening of May 30th. The fire investigation was further complicated by several burglaries and a discovery a body on the second floor of the Gilbert Bros. building. In October, 1956 the quarter block was scheduled to be razed for a parking lot.

  6. The building at the end of the block is known today as the Thomas Mann building.

    Joan, you’re correct. The space occupied by the Davenport/Gilbert Bros. building would go on to become part of the Yamhill Marketplace.

  7. The fire started at 9:50 PM, 30 May 1956, in the basement elevator shaft of the building next door to General Paint Corp. (Gilbert Brothers Plumbing and Supply). The fire dept. said the fire smoldered for several hours before mushrooming into a 3-alarm blaze with a fire column that could be seen all over the city. The PFD assessed damages at $440K and claimed the fire would not have spread from the basement if the building owners had complied with ordinances (in effect since 1954) requiring installation of sprinkler systems in all basements in the downtown area. The PFD later asserted that the fire was somehow caused by a break-in and robbery because they found an old fire-door wide open that led to the building next door (the one being demolished) and the contents of a safe were missing. The fire marshall did not know precisely how the fire started, but he noted that “winos” were living in the adjacent building undergoing demolition, implying that they may have touched off the blaze inadvertently while on the prowl through Gilbert’s basement. Another identified man died in the fire after being trapped in the upper level of General Paint, which Gilbert used as a storage area. (Source: the usual press archive.)

  8. They must of sold billions of those hats that most of the men wore in those days. My grandfather wore his into the 70’s if I recall correctly. Thanks Richard for the info. You saved me a lot of work. LOL.

  9. Alternative explanation. The fire started in the cash flow, spread to the mortgage and smoldered in the insurance policy maybe.
    Stuff happens.

  10. The time of the fire leads me to wonder if there is a Portland Confidential-like connection. Homeless people are always a good cover for property damage.
    Thanks all for your research.

  11. Look up both AG Gilbert and Leslie Gilbert who were Gilbert Bros
    There is a story there of blackmail etc

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