In Search of Portland is a continuing journey through the city we love: a celebration of old and new landmarks, and the dreamers who populate them. Each episode is devoted to one special building or place—a sacred ground of sorts—with a focus on its past, present and future.
The Elk Statue
For 120 years it stood downtown between two park blocks. In 1991 it made a cameo in one of the most acclaimed films by Portland's favorite-son movie director, Gus Van Sant. In 2020, it was removed from its base and stored in a warehouse. Though it's just a tiny little statue on a traffic median, the "Elk" statue may be the city's most beloved public artwork. And whenever it returns, this circa-1900 statue by the internationally renowned sculptor Roland Hinton Perry, a French-trained classicist called upon to evoke Native American symbolism, shows us a way to move beyond the divisive hero-worship of human statuary.
This long-deserted flour mill complex along the Willamette River was once Portland's biggest economic engine, producing enough wheat to make Oregon one of America's biggest producers. For the past 20 years, it has stood empty, even as the Pearl District exploded around it. Can it be preserved, should it be torn down for affordable housing, or could Centennial Mills continue as an industrial ruin and park? This episode features interviews with historian Chet Orloff, who worked at the mills as a young man, and Prosper Portland development director Lisa Abuaf, who is leading the city's effort to transform Centennial Mills equitably.
Ladd Carriage House
Situated prominently on Broadway, the Ladd Carriage House is an anachronism standing next to two glass towers: a 19th century outbuilding that was once part of founding father William Ladd's mansion. Today home to the Raven & Rose restaurant, the Carriage House was nearly demolished just over a decade ago by the church that owned it — until a grassroots effort found a better way. In this episode, we talk with Friends of Ladd Carriage House founder and architect Paul Falsetto about the building's unique charms, and with interior designer Tracy Simpson about building perhaps the city's coziest dining spot, with hopes for its swift post-pandemic return.
Over the past 125 years the city block at 10th Avenue and Alder Street has symbolized a changing city. Modest yet handsome early 20th century commercial and theater buildings gave way to midcentury parking lots. Then the block became an epicenter of Portland's street-food renaissance. Soon it will be one of Portland's tallest towers. In this episode, we talk with Food Carts Portland writer Brett Burmeister about the rise and fall of the 10th & Alder food cart pod, and Architectural Heritage Center historian Val Ballestrem about the block's 19th century beginnings.
One of the most recognizable buildings on Portland's skyline, the KOIN Center helped revitalize downtown in the 1980s, but only after its South Auditorium District wiped out a neighborhood. In the basement is the TV station the building's name, where for decades some of the city's most venerable newscasters have sat at the anchor desk. And long before the KOIN Center, Oregon's greatest women's suffrage leader, Abigail Scott Duniway, lived in a house here just over a century ago. Our first interview features Jan Willemse of architecture firm ZGF, who discusses the KOIN Center's architectural beginnings. In second interview, longtime KOIN anchor Jeff Gianola reflects on his career. And in a special third interview, historian Jennifer Chambers discusses Abigail Scott Duniway's continuing legacy.
Whitney and Gray Building
This four-story brick former hotel building in downtown Portland's West End dates to 1910, but the restaurant on its ground floor, Jake's Famous Crawfish, goes all the way back to 1892. Its fresh-caught seafood as well as its wood-and-polished-brass environs have attracted not just a who's who of locals but movie stars like Humphrey Bogart and his Portland-raised wife of the 1930s and '40s, actress Mayo Methot. In our first interview, film historian Laura Wagner discusses the rocky Methot-Bogart marriage and its Portland ties. The second interview features Jake's general manager Brian McConnell as well as Missy Maki, who oversees sales for the restaurant’s parent company, McCormick & Schmick’s restaurants, as we discuss this landmark eatery's present and future.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Deeply appreciate the insight into our beloved Rose City Architecture and history. A must listen for anyone who loves how history and architecture are connected.
This is what the Portland architecture community needed!
Mm hmm mm hmm
Great podcast. I could do with a little less “mm hmm mm hmm” -ing, though.