The Homestead School, 1896

The Homestead School class photo; the school was located at N Williams Avenue and NE Mason Street, circa 1896.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2004-002.6811.

City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2004-002.6811.


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

21 thoughts on “The Homestead School, 1896

  1. Wow. Is there any way to find out who was in the Class of 1886 and trace what happened to them as adults.
    Not only would this be interesting, it might make the nexus of a great TV series.
    Either a “Portlandia Before It Got Weird” or even better “How Portlandia Got Weird.”

  2. Looks like the girl in the striped dress in the first row was being treated for lice. Is that a knit cap she’s holding? Or maybe it’s a spray of wisteria like a few of the others are wearing.

  3. @Allen,

    I may be reading too much into it, but it appears the headmistress is making goo-goo eyes at the headmaster.

    If the 1896 date is correct, this photo was taken just five years after the annexation of Albina into the greater Portland metro area.

  4. My grandma (Mildred Porth) and her family moved to Albina/Portland in the 1890s, from Sleepy Eye,Minnesota. They lived on the corner of Rodney and Monroe. Not sure what grade school they attended. I’d be interested to know if anyone else had relatives living in that area at that time.

  5. I looks to me that at least 30% of this group is looking multiple directions and two boys are hiding behind the headmaster. Those were the days when school started with the drummer boy creating the cadence as the students filed into the school.

  6. The only identifiable person in this photo is the Albina Homestead School principal: the bearded young man on the far right (the alleged object of the young teacher’s gaze) is Samuel Usmar Downs (1856-1936). I compared the Archives photo here with his passport application photo from 1917 ( and an Oregonian photo from 1931 (8 Feb 1931, p 16). Downs was principal of this Albina Homestead school in 1895 (City Directory), and he went on to serve as principal at several other Portland schools, mainly on the east side up to the 1930s. He retired as long-time principal of Eliot School in 1931. Accordingly, I think the date of the Archives photo as ca. 1896 is probably right. If so, at the time the photo was taken, Downs was married with children. The Homestead School was merged with other schools in the Albina area as the population exploded in the early 1900s. The Homestead school building itself may have been moved to another Albina lot in the 1890s, and in 1898 it was renamed Highland School.

    Interesting trivia from the Oregonian feature article cited above: Downs, while living with his family in Springfield, Illinois in the late 1850s was for a brief time a childhood playmate of Abe and Mary Lincoln’s son, Tad Lincoln. He shared some amusing reminiscences about this in the Oregonian article.

  7. Wonderful sleuthing, Richard!

    Everyone — Re: the teacher’s gaze — Would she perhaps be looking over at the boys whispering behind the principal? Perhaps a look of disapproval because they are not paying attention to the photographer?

  8. People are thinking “how is that a sexist comment”.. “Damn everything has to be political correct nowadays”. That’s it I’m voting for Trump. Well not me. You know i called my best friend in high school a” Kraut” once because of his German heritage and he shoved me into a door in anger. I’m just saying….

  9. LOL Just venting. Good thing I don’t take myself too seriously. But I shouldn’t vent on here so I apologize.

  10. Good work, Richard C. I believe King School was called Highland School before its name was changed. If so, these scholars would be among King School’s earliest alumni.

  11. Becky…I show a Mildred Porth marrying a Mr. George Corneil of Ashland in 1920. Looks like a brother (William) lived at 1414 n. Morse.

  12. I have enjoyed this site for years because of the historical value of the photos and the sometimes humorous conjectures; but I think that it is a better forum when we leave out the silly comments. I hope the Administrator will keep this forum as an historical web site that would further our appreciation of what has come before us.

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