49 thoughts on “Help Us Out!

  1. Doesn’t seem too likely but I guess this could have been very early downtown say 1878. Fences like that were common in that time downtown

  2. decided we got off easy on the last one, eh?
    not even a denomination – any church architecture experts out there? there’s a steep slope to the right background, and the street to the left has a mild incline. north portland, along the river?
    might be a bad area of town – there’s a window broken!

  3. No pavement and hitching posts. Would appear to be early Portland I don’t think we could have had too many post offices. I think we need to start with the early maps and go from there.
    I agree with Mike, that it seems to look like the old downtown area.

  4. “Opposite the Post Office” refers to the location of the Partridge studio, not the image shown. You’ll find it on other Partridge prints. William and Edward Partridge worked as photographers in Oregon from about 1884 through 1887, so that helps date the photo.

  5. broken window is at the top of the gothic double-hungs (the pointy ones), fourth from left.

    it does have a hitching rail, but a primitive one. i am not thinking downtown, unless civil war-era.

  6. i blew up the photo real big, and i am no longer sure that is a slope behind the house in the right background; it looks more like treetops, as there is some light coming through. so there went our only keystone!

    there is no ‘partridge’ studio in the 1896 directory – there is a nathan partridge at “b, 934 e taylor.”

  7. The hills look pretty close. Cross referencing 1885 churches, I see we had one at 6th and Carruthers, which is not an implausible match. Anyone want to Sanborn it?

  8. John, thanks for that date contribution – a great piece of context and (as so often happens) it is a bit later than I might have guessed for the image. Separating the date of what is depicted from the date the photo was taken can be a challenge, especially with interiors. Certainly the date of the church and – the rectory next door I assume – seem very early, like 1870s at a minimum, if not 1860s even. However, it does look a lot like the 1898 John Day church.

    Robert, I love the idea of cross-referencing to churches in a directory of the 1880s – seems like the way to go. Can’t be that many options. Maybe the steeple is visible in one of the early birds eye views or photos.

    I especially like all the streetscape details such as the hitching rail, the steps to the unpaved street, the boardwalks, the stone foundation, the picket fence and the lantern on the post – a different era for sure. Does the negative number at lower left help at all? Is there an inventory of Partridge negatives out there, or an 801 or 803?

  9. Glover’s 1879 bird’s eye would seem to be the perfect candidate for a smoking gun, but I see nothing:

    There is only one church positioned in a way that is even close, in East Portland at 11th and maybe I or J Street, but it doesn’t have a house next to it. So if that map is comprehensive, it is either out of the view (though this view includes about everything) or not in Portland or built after 1879. The photo could be fairly recently after building, but the house in particular seems older than 1880s in style. I’m always thinking things are older than they are though…

    I don’t see anything in Davidson’s 1883 panorama. I don’t have a hi-res of the 1890 Holliday’s Addition bird’s eye (which does show the church at 11th and J and also a candidate at 7th and G Street – does anyone have a hi-res of this map?). There is a remote possibility on the Wood 1890 of the Plymouth Cong. Church at at N. 14th and E Street.

    Any other panorama or bird’s eye options?

  10. I don’t know of any list of Partridge negatives by number. Reviewing my own collection, I see that almost all of the image numbers have four digits. The only three digit number is 958, on a photo of a train stuck in a record snowstorm in the Gorge in December of 1884. Assuming the numbers are sequential, that would date the church photo to earlier in 1884.

  11. Great photo. The first place that came to mind for me was the Sellwood area. This is very flat. Could be early downtown Portland, but not sure where I’d place it. Maybe the Macadam/Corbett area by John’s Landing. There are still a few old churches down there. I believe the residence and church are connected. Might be the home of the pastor, minister etc.

  12. On the Glover’s 1879 bird’s eye there appears to be church at east 7th and Washington? On 1884 Sanborn (vol 2, sheet 7b) there’s something labeled “Zion Church” at east 6th and V street. I’m kind of new at this (so feel free to set me straight), but I think that makes its old address 1804 SE 6th?

  13. Beth, the church at 7th and Washington is about the right size, but it sits on the wrong corner of its block. At least, I assume the photo shows the church on a corner – there appears to be a small board walk going alongside and we see what looks like the gable of a house facing perpendicular behind it. This could be a misinterpretation of the photo though.

    The Zion Church in the 1889 Sanborn is a very good shot at it – this is in the correct position on its block and has a house next door in about the same relative place. However, it shows stairs straight out of the front rather than on either side and what appear to be hips on the roof, and the house next door is one story rather than two, so I think it is close but no cigar… ;-(

  14. Sheet 13a in 1889 also rules out St. Francis Church at Eleventh & J, which has some very similar characteristics but again a different entry steps configuration and no steps off the back rear side. I don’t think the house next door is quite in the right position either. It comes very close though, including a gable roof visible behind the church.

    This is very close to what we are looking for I think….

  15. don’t rule out this NOT being a corner lot – the plank sidewalk continues out of frame to the left; i doubt a street would have an obstacle to wagon traffic like that. the house to left rear DOES imply a corner (assuming the gable ends are streetside), but if we take the lot to left of church to be a vacant one, that roof could be a wing to a main house. that gable would then face parallel to street.

  16. i’m sure it is an artifact – but playing with color sliders, what look like numbers appear above the rectory door! possibly 3, 5 and ???
    likely leaves and shadow. that would be too easy.
    and the ghost of a house to the right of the rectory looks like it has unique features that would identify it: tower? very broad front gable? we need the bladerunner program!
    “computer: left 27… go down … enhance!”

  17. The post card states it is “across from the post office.” How many post offices were there in Portland back @ the turn of the century? It could be in one of the townships (Linnton, Sellwood, Albina, St. Johns, etc.) that later became a part of Portland?

  18. wl is certainly correct that this is not a corner lot. In addition to the discrepancies noted, the street level in the entire photo is two steps below the board walk.

  19. Hmm.. I think it may be a corner lot. Here’s a similar image (of the first Methodist Church in Oregon, in Oregon City) taken a few years later. It was definitely on a corner. Note that both images show a single plank going up the side street, and both show the boardwalk continuing across the side road. I believe this was common practice, at least in Oregon City. Also, in both the main street is somewhat lower.

  20. What we see. A dual entry church favored in some traditions for seperate men and women’s entry. Early Quaker and Presbyterian come to mind. Neo-Gothic style in Oregon dates it 1850-1890. Siding pattern looks like 105 Dropside, favored 1880-1900. Crenulated chimneys are curious. Almost reads like the buildings are from the east coast. Reads like early 1880’s.

  21. Personally, I was wondering if this was the Oaks Pioneer Church at its original home in Milwaukie, prior to being barged to Sellwood Park.

    While the Oaks Pioneer Church only has three sets of gothic windows per side instead of the four seen in today’s VP image, the above link makes mention of the fact that it had been remodeled several times.

  22. I immediately thought of the Oaks Pioneer (St. Johns Episcopal) Church too, but even the oldest photos I have seen do not quite match. Although, the church in question is most likely of the same era.

  23. oooh – good eye! looks like there is an ‘R’ as well, but adding resolution on my end didn’t improve much. bo, if the physical picture is yours, can you re-scan it at some ridiculous ppi?

  24. On the subject of divided entrances, the interior itself could not have easily been divided with that Gothic window centered on the vestibule, unless it were a screen inside of some kind. Seems pretty small for a divided entrance on the interior unless the vestibule is open and the entrance rule applies only to the doors… I don’t know about such things.

    One oddity I notice is that the church does not appear to have either built-in gutters or downspouts.

    Another interesting detail is how they matched the height of the handrail at the top by the doors to the height at the landing below it, which is a step lower – making the handrail height at the top by the doors architecturally consistent but very low indeed. One can imagine congregants streaming out after service and someone taking a spill over the trip-height “handrail” there.

    The fact that the great picket fence is built on top of a stone base is also a bit unusual, perhaps. And the open steeple and that flat porch roof on the house next door… Makes you wonder if the builders had been in rainy Oregon for very long. 😉

  25. This is very, very similar to the original St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church established by the Volga Germans in 1904.


    Of course, there are major differences and St. Paul’s post-dates this image, but I wonder if this church could have been an earlier (possibly Anabaptist – maybe that’s what the sign says) church established by Volga immigrants.

  26. lots of new englanders didn’t (don’t!) put on gutters. portland was founded by them, remember!

    the fact that the sign is on the ground is odd; i suppose the building could be new, and it hasn’t been put up yet. so why not wait to take the photo until sign was up? could it be an old pioneer church that is on the way out due to neighborhood progress, and the photo is for posterity? it has a broken window, after all…. but the paint and other aspects look well-cared for, so it doesn’t seem abandoned or disused.

    this one is hard because we lack the one thing we usually have: a geographic reference! IF those are hills behind the (hard-to-see) roofline at extreme right background, that gives some boundaries. if they are just tall trees, not so much. if that’s a street corner, that’s a help. but what if it isn’t?

    the shadows are faint – best is from the eave return – but they appear to come from our 1:00 position. seeming lack of tree leaves indicates winter or fall, so i am guessing this church faces south or possibly west. if there is a hill to the right, that eliminates large swaths of town. could this be from another town? oregon city, or the dalles? oregon city would actually fit the bill if those are cliffs to the right….

  27. Why doesn’t the sign become clearly readable when it is blown up, like images do in the movies or CSI?

  28. I have been out of commission for a few days and glad to see we haven’t given up. I know I haven’t. OHS has a historic church register with photos. I might try to get down there and have a look. Did we give up on Sanborne? Also, the trees are very young. This church is in its infancy. I maintain it’s in Portland, SE/Sellwood or SW/ Corbett areas. Not NW. Slabtown was primarily Irish, Croatian and Italian Catholics and they had St Frances’ church. To me this is not a Catholic Church. Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran maybe. I say we try to narrow down the size of Portland in 1884-1887, look for cultural demographics and go from there.

  29. I have been stuck on this one all week. I can’t let it go! BUT I think I have found it!

    I was looking at the Portland Then and Now site and saw this 1880 photo:

    Which was labeled by the site as SW 4th and Alder. I noticed that the fence is pretty much the same as our church photo. So I looked at the 1889 Sanborn map for the area around that intersection.

    First Congressional Church at the corner of SW Washington and Third has the double entrance side staircases! It’s in Sanborn 1889, vol 1, sheet 15a.

    AND it’s three blocks from the Post Office that has a photo studio across the street from it, according to the same Sanborn sheet.

  30. Beth: I was excited when I saw your post, but I don’t think it’s the right church. Several details on the Sanborn map don’t match up: the bell tower sits completely outside the envelope of the building, the two staircases are curved, the roof is hipped, and the front porch on the house next door is the wrong size and location. But it’s certainly as close as we’ve gotten so far!

  31. I have another candidate for this, but I’m not entirely sure of it. It’s possible that this was the Hall Street Methodist Episcopal Church on the southeast corner of SW 6th and Hall, just south of the Harrison school.

    I first spotted it in the 1885 Portland Heights aerial posted today:

    Here’s a close-up (I hope I get these image links to work right!). The ME church is the white steeple on the left:

    The 1879 Glover birds-eye shows a very similar looking building on that corner, but without the steeple:

    The 1889 Sanborn map is a pretty good match, although the house next door looks closer to the street in the mystery photo.

    By 1901, there was a synagogue on that corner, with a slightly different footprint. It’s hard to tell if it’s a new building, or a remodel.

    The same corner shows up in a 1938 aerial.There’s still a synagogue there, but it’s clearly much larger than our mystery church. The 1950 Sanborn confirms that there was a bigger building on that corner.

    So, I don’t know. It looks like there was a church on that corner in the early 1880s that’s roughly the right size and shape, and the house next door is a pretty reasonable match, too. The lighting in the photo is consistent with a southeast corner. It’s hard to say for sure, but you could even argue that the tree line in the background is Marquam Hill.

    By 1901, the church had been either altered or rebuilt, and by 1938 it was a different building entirely.

    Can anybody find a definitive picture of the Hall Street M.E. Church, or of the (possibly remodeled) synagogue?

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