The Forestry Building, 1956

The Forestry Building, November 30, 1956. Known as the “world’s largest log cabin,” the Forestry Building was constructed as part of Portland’s Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition of 1905.

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2001-030.2739

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2001-030.2739

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

23 thoughts on “The Forestry Building, 1956

  1. As I’m fairly new to Portland, I didn’t realize why this post gives no address for the building — but have since looked it up and determined it was destroyed by fire in 1964. Too bad!

  2. About as close as I could get the street view today as there’s an apartment building on the corner this photo was taken (NW 28th and NW Upshur). The short retaining wall and stairs are all that remain from the photo.

  3. Comparing Brian R’s photo, it appears the 2nd and 3rd floor balcony railings were gone by 1956. Looking at the somewhat sagging 3rd floor balcony from the 1956 photo I guess you can see why access to those was closed off. Does anyone old enough to remember the building know if it had been maintained very well or was it generally falling into disrepair by the end?

  4. When I was a little girl the size of the building frightened me. It seemed that it might be occupied by giants.

  5. I was living at 29th and Upshur when the building burned. There were also tall fir trees that contributed to an incredible fire. I took my love birds and ran up to the Thurman bridge and watched it burn down.

  6. I can remember when it burned down. We were living in Irvington but could see the smoke from our house. Unfortunately I never got the chance to visit it before the fire. Sad loss.

  7. You can see the still-existing and very distinctive Montgomery Wards Buikding in the background of the 1956 photo.

  8. Never having seen this magnificent building other than in pictures, I always had difficulty looking at pictures of it and getting myself oriented on its layout. This helps a lot, thanks. As does this map:

  9. The linked articles answers questions about the balconies and the state of disrepair:

    “In the 1940s, there was talk of actually demolishing the building, which by then had turned into a safety hazard; the balconies had been built with whole logs, which had warped, making them dangerous, and the whole building was like a banquet hall for wood-destroying organisms like bark beetles and termites.

    Finally, in the 1950s, the Chamber of Commerce took up a collection to restore the place. “

  10. I worked at Montgomery Wards in 1960 and remember visiting that building. All I can remember is that old musty smell it had.

  11. This, the Omsi, Oregon city falls/paper mill, the zoo were required field trip fodder for Portland school kids back in the day. That and planting fir trees in the old Tillamook burn area.

  12. You can see its poor condition in this photo, Had it not burned, I would be a huge re-hab job at this ’50s timeframe.

    Were it intended to survive long term,
    The logs would have been bark peeled during construction.

  13. I’ve always thought it a shame that they built boring apartments on the site; should have been replaced by something spectacular, or at least something kind of interesting.

  14. Yeah…I think that “field trip” was mandatory for every kid in the Portland area! I was lucky enough to have been able to visit the building many times as a kid. Because of its size, it made one feel so tiny! It truly was a magnificent structure!

    And then, on the evening of August 17, 1964…it was a Monday…I could see the smoke from our front yard! (We lived in the Burlingame/Capitol Hill area.)

    The analysis at the time was that the cause was due to some vintage wiring…flames were ten stories high and illuminated the evening sky for miles…the windows on the South side of the Montgomery Ward Department Store were popping out and shattering…broken glass was everywhere!

    All of it went up in flames in the biggest and most spectacular single-building structure fire in Portland history…what a loss…what a great loss.

  15. I grew up in Vancouver and school field trips here and the old zoo occurred quite often. I was so sad when it burned down. We often shopped at the “Monkey” Wards store across the street on Vaughn–worked there late 60’s to early 70’s.

  16. Did you also go on a field trip to Nabisco in North Portland? I remember it because we all got a package of cookies when we left.

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