17 thoughts on “SW Alder Street, 1923

  1. What’s the history of the Ungar building? Was the facade really plastered over to create the front we see on the CVS, or was the building rebuilt?

  2. What a beautiful building! It exudes class. I am wondering if the Ungar building is related in any way to Nicolas Ungar who had a fur business in Portland. One of the leasing agents, E.B. MacNaughton, of Strong and MacNaughton was a very influential figure in early 20th century Portland.

  3. I wondered where all the people were, and then realized that is it a long exposure. The only people you see are the ones who weren’t moving.

  4. The Ungar Bldg. opened for business in Oct. 1923 on the site of the demolished Marquam Theater (opened in 1890). The owner was Nicholas Ungar. The architects were Houghtaling and Dugan who were copying shopping arcade-type buildings in the East — street-level retail such as the Colonist Restaurant shown here and a series of individually leased specialty and higher-end shops on the second level with large plate-glass display windows.

    A public scandal dogged the opening of this emporium. As the VP pic shows, the building’s exterior was highly decorated with terra cotta frieze work. The original facade, however, featured five nude or semi-nude figures copied from classical works. Crowds of Portlanders flocked to view the artwork and blocked street traffic, but a public morals outcry ensued. Papers such as the Oregonian helped to hype the frenzy, and the city council tut tutted and looked to law books to find a legal pretext for ordering their removal. Anyway, by early November 1923 Mr. Ungar relented and ordered the figures removed and replaced by the cherubs and such we see in this photo. Before the figures were taken down, Ungar sort of trolled the public outrage: he had a tarp draped over them to hide them from public view: the cloth bore the heraldic motto (in original old French…”Honi soit etc.”) “Evil unto him who thinks evil of it.” More liberal-minded Oregonians remembered the incident for some years as an illustration of Portland’s alleged provincialism in that era.

  5. I suspect the building was so ornate because it may have started out its life as the Marquam Grand Opera House.

    There is a photo showing the David Campbell funeral procession going along Alder that might confirm this, but I can’t find it.

  6. Addendum: Never mind. Richard C. debunked my speculation while I was trying to locate the photo.

    Thanks Richard. Have an upvote.

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  8. According to the City records, the current building on-site was built in 1924 indicating that the Ungar Building still stands, albeit in drastically altered form.

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