St. Helen’s Hall, circa 1892

St. Helen’s Hall, circa 1892. According to the 1892 Polk Directory, St. Helen’s hall was located on St. Clair Avenue, between Park Place and Main Street.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2004-002.2540.


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

24 thoughts on “St. Helen’s Hall, circa 1892

  1. From Wikipedia:
    Established in 1869 by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Wistar Morris, Bishop of Oregon, OES is “the oldest Episcopal school west of the Rocky Mountains.” Known as St. Helen’s Hall at the time of its founding, it was originally a boarding and day school for girls.

  2. St. Helens Hall was located on the full block site of what is today the Vista Avenue Apartments – a high rise on SW Vista Avenue between SW Park Place and SW Main Street – in Kings Hill – a National Historic District. The street location at the time was Ford Street and Park Avenue.

  3. It is today Vista St. Clair Apartments; Not Vista Avenue Apts. My bad. The East side entrance was on SW St. Clair. The west side was Ford Street, now Vista Avenue.

    Bob Clay – Sent from my iPhone


  4. Directly across the street on the corner of Vista and Park Place was my grandfather’s house. I have some great photos but don’t know when it was built or when it was demolished in I think the 1930’s. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  5. I was born in 1941 and I remember as a child seeing where St. Helen’s Hall once stood with a rock wall on the perimeter along Vista Ave. There was a lot with a similar stone wall on the corner of Vista and Park where my grandfather’s house once was. I just connected with information on the “Forbes House”. My grandfather’s father was Graham Glass and I have letters from my grandfather to his father dated circa 1907 to 1911 when he was back east at school. I still don’t know when the house was demolished. During the depression? I have the dining room set out of that house.

  6. I had a neighborhood friend who attended St. Helens Hall in the mid 1940s although I never saw the building. Was it a different bldg than this one?

  7. I attended St Helens Hall from 63-66 and the building was what is photographed but located on SW 15th Street. I can’t remember the cross street at the moment but it would be somewhere around 6th Ave and I405 now. It was demolished to make way for the freeway. I transitioned from the old to the new on SW Nicol Rd. I loved the Old Hall building and it’s ambiance.

  8. Ken H.

    I don’t know for sure, but the distinctive windows wrapped by chimneys on the left wing is similar to the Richard B. Knapp house. The University of Oregon digital collection attributes the Knapp house to architects Warren Heywood Williams and William F. McCaw.

    Based on later work by each architect, I would suggest that McCaw is the more likely architect for this building.

  9. Julee,

    I believe you are thinking of the building that was formerly known as Portland Academy. The Sisters moved into that building (on 13th and Hall) after a fire destroyed all but one wing of the building pictured above.

    See Paul’s link above.

    Here is a photo of the 13th and Hall building:

  10. My mother considered enrolling me in the pre-school or kindergarten at St. Helens Hall in about 1947, when they were still at 13th and Hall. We visited the school one day and saw the students taking a nap (was this after lunch?). In the end, she decided in favor of a different school.

  11. My mistake. The modern high rise is the Vista St. Clair; not Vista Ave. Apartments.
    Bounded by SW Park Place, Main Street, Vista Ave. and St. Clair. It is currently under going major seismic reinforcement.

    The historic photo entrance would be on St. Clair.

    Re: the neighboring demolished historic house referred to above, other sources are the Oregon Historical Society house files, the City of Portland Archives @ PSU Urban Center and the Architectural Heritage Center. I have seen photos of this remarkable house. It is mentioned on the Kings Hill Historic Tour which I have led.
    A tour of Kings Hill is upcoming in May. Check the AHC website for dates, times and registration.

  12. Rodney street in the n.e. neighborhood was named after the three Rodney sisters who accompanied the bishop to Portland. Opened in 1869.

  13. Thank you for information. I have a photo of the Glasses outside their house. I just don’t have the year. Do you know anyone who does research for people at a reasonable rate? I live in Salem and don’t get to Portland very often. Thanks again.

  14. My great grandmother’s older sister, Frances Ann “Fannie” Burkhart, b.6 Aug 1856, graduated from high school in Albany, Oregon in 1874. She began attending St. Helen’s Hall on 30 Oct 1876 and kept a diary in a ledger she was supposed to use to keep track of expenses. The train ride was 2 hours from Albany to Portland and she attended until Sept 1878 when her health, which had begun to fail her, became so fragile she had to stop her schooling. She died from TB (which was infecting one in seven Americans in the 19th Century) on 28 July 1879 in Albany, Oregon at home and is buried at Riverside Cemetery, Albany, Linn Co., Oregon in space 24n. I have her diary, photos and 2 colored postcards of St. Helens Hall which later became part of Oregon Episcopal School. I wrote a small book regarding Fannie’s life, transcribing her diary and showing all of her photos and the two postcards.

  15. Jim, thank you for the correction. I am familiar with the scene of the photo you posted. It became the back of the Upper School when I the property was enclosed to form an expanded Lower School, Chapel, gym and playground. The other side of that building became the official entrance and looked very similar to what was off of Vista.

  16. To Irene Longaker. I remember the house and it was still standing in the early 60s as I recall. An estate representative named Nancy Draper was able to salvage parts of it before it was torn down. The empty lot sat vacant for a couple more years before the current eyesore was built on it.

  17. Thank you for your reply. My grandfather’s house on the NW corner of Vista and Park Ave was gone in the 1940’s when I was a young child living on Green St. I was born in 1941 and was maybe 6 or 7 and there was a stone wall around the property and some old remaining rose bushes. I would love to know more about when this property was demolished. I have letters to that address in the 1920’s and maybe early 1930’s. How can I send you a photo of the house that is different from the rest of the published photos. It is very interesting.

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