Washington High School (Portland, Oregon)

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Washington High School
Former Washington HS (Portland, Oregon) in 2013 - entablature showing school name.jpg
Front of the former school building in 2013
Washington High School is located in Portland, Oregon
Washington High School
Washington High School
531 SE 14th Avenue,
Portland, Oregon 97214

United States
Coordinates 45°31′08″N 122°39′07″W / 45.518972°N 122.652°W / 45.518972; -122.652Coordinates: 45°31′08″N 122°39′07″W / 45.518972°N 122.652°W / 45.518972; -122.652
Type Public
Opened 1906
Status School closed;
1924 building still standing
Closed 1981
School district Portland Public Schools
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1,557 (1922);[1] 1,826 (1924);[2] 1,500 (1969);[3] 883 (1981)[4]
Color(s) maroon and gold
Mascot George Washington
Nickname Colonials

Washington High School was a high school in Portland, Oregon, United States, from 1906 to 1981. It was part of the Portland school district. After fire destroyed the original building, a new building was completed in 1924. The 1924 building was vacant for many years. In October 2013, plans to renovate the building for commercial use were advancing, with a mix of retail and office use planned.[5] New Seasons Market will relocate its offices to the building in 2015.[6] The former auditorium was repurposed as a music venue called Revolution Hall, which opened in February 2015.[7][8]

School history[edit]

The first Washington High School was originally named East Side High School. It opened in September 1906, with classes temporarily held in an elementary school while its permanent building was being constructed[9] and moved into its permanent building in February 1907,[10] located at SE 14th and Stark. The East Side High School was renamed Washington in 1909.[11] The original building was destroyed by fire on October 25, 1922.[12][13] A replacement was constructed on the same site, made of reinforced concrete with a brick surface.[1] Designed by the Portland architectural firm of Houghtaling & Dougan, the new building also featured terra cotta trim.[14] It opened for students on September 2, 1924.[2]

Due to the baby boom and passing of a $25 million building levy by the school district in 1947, a new gymnasium was slated to be built.[12]

In fall 1978, Washington High School merged with Monroe High School and became Washington/Monroe High School. Monroe H.S. was an all-girls vocational sister school to Benson Polytechnic High School. It was established in 1917 at Southwest 14th and Morrison and was named Girls Polytechnic High School until fall 1967, when it was renamed James Monroe High School.[15] Monroe High School had only 470 students in fall 1977, the smallest enrollment of any public high school in Portland.[15] Washington's enrollment had declined sharply in the 1970s, from 1,504 in the 1968–69 school year to 773 in the 1977–78 school year,[3] leading to the decision to merge the two schools, on the Washington H.S. campus.

Central portion of building's front (west side) in 2015, after renovation

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Portland Public Schools (PPS) was faced with declining enrollment overall, as well, and targeted Cleveland High School (originally Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce) for closure. The Cleveland High School property was divided into two parcels: The site of the school building and the site of the athletic field, originally the site of the Clinton Kelly mansion. Clinton Kelly, an early Portland settler and minister, specified that the property was to be used solely for a public school. If the property was used for any other purpose, or put up for sale, the property would revert to the Kelly estate, and to the living heirs of Clinton Kelly.[citation needed] PPS ultimately decided to close Washington H.S. ("Washington/Monroe" by then), and keep Cleveland H.S. open.

Washington/Monroe High School closed in May 1981.[16] Enrollment at the end was 883 students.[4]

Post-school use[edit]

After its 1981 closure as a school, the building was used for school district administrative purposes until around 2003. It remained vacant since then, although it was prepared to house Hurricane Katrina evacuees in fall 2005.

In the 2002–2003 school year, Portland Public Schools identified a number of properties that it considered "surplus" based on the recommendation of Innovation Partnerships and the Real Estate Investment Trust.[17]

In 2005, the City of Portland purchased 5.4 acres (22,000 m2) of the school property for $4.5 million.[18] That parcel included the gym, a three-story addition, a one-story outbuilding and the track and field. At that time, the city was intending to use the land for a community center and athletic fields when funding became available.[18] The remaining 2.6 acres (11,000 m2) comprises two parcels in the northeast and southeast corners of the site, one largely vacant, and the other housing the multi-story brick high school building.[19] Beam Development was planning on developing the space into condos and commercial buildings.[18]

Seen from the northeast, at 14th & Stark, with small corner marquee for Revolution Hall, the new music venue

In 2009, Portland Parks & Recreation received funds as a result of the support of Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon H. Smith. This money was received as a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development grant for $665,000. In April 2009, an advisory committee was appointed by Portland Commissioner Nick Fish to develop the scope and program for the facility.

The Washington High School site was used September 3 to October 23, 2009, by the Time-Based Art Festival. Dubbed "The Works", the site displayed many of the visual arts pieces.[20] Though it was opened and cleaned out, in part, due to the TBA Festival, in 2009 the site was still slated to be turned into a community center. Preservation talks about the planned center were still under way.[21]

Concurrently, PPS commissioned an update of an appraisal on the building, which was due to be finished in January 2010. The district also plans to issue a “request for information” to see if any other developers are interested in buying the long-vacant high school. Doug Capps, a PPS facilities manager, told an advisory committee on December 1, 2009, that an offer on the building could be submitted to the school board as soon as March or April 2010.[21]

In 2011, the site hosted the City Repair Project's Earth Day event, Earth Day Incorporated.[22] In April 2011, local volunteers began the process of creating the Buckman Historic District which, if approved, would have included Washington High School.[23] However, the proposal to create such a district was dropped in 2013 after failing to attract sufficient support from property owners in the affected area.[24]

In October 2013, plans for a private firm to acquire the building and begin renovation were advancing. The developer is anticipating orienting the ground floor for retail use and the upper floors as office space.[5] In September 2014, New Seasons Market signed a lease to move its headquarters to the building, occupying over a third of the office space;[6] the move is scheduled for March 2015.[25]


Washington High School was reopened in early 2015. Classrooms were converted into office space and the auditorium was converted into a music venue called Revolution Hall (run and operated by Mississippi Studios). New Seasons Market leased the top two floors of the building, while creative agencies like STRUCK, Copius, and Murmur Creative leased offices on the first two floors.


Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "New Schools Finished" (August 24, 1924). The Sunday Oregonian, p. 11
  2. ^ a b "High School Too Small; New Washington Building Already Has Student Surplus" (September 17, 1924). The Morning Oregonian, p. 8.
  3. ^ a b Collins, Huntly (October 9, 1977). "Reorganization of schools may spell end of Monroe". The Sunday Oregonian. p. B6. 
  4. ^ a b Durbin, Kathy (May 16, 1981). "Mood at school quiet, somber". The Oregonian. p. A12. 
  5. ^ a b Binder, Melissa (October 17, 2013). "Washington High School redevelopment excites neighbors, shouldn't affect dog park". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Njus, Elliot (September 29, 2014). "New Seasons offices will anchor Washington High School redevelopment". The Oregonian. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  7. ^ DeNies, Ramona (November 13, 2014). "New Music Venue to Open at Washington High School: Revolution Hall". Portland Monthly. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Greewald, David (February 12, 2015). "Revolution Hall Opens Tonight with First Concert". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Vacation is Over: City Schools Will Open Today With Big Attendance". The Morning Oregonian. September 17, 1906. p. 7. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  10. ^ "New High School Opens". The Morning Oregonian. February 11, 1907. p. 8. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Change in Names of High Schools; West Side is Lincoln, East Side is Washington and Albina to Be Jefferson". The Morning Oregonian. February 9, 1909. p. 10. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Polich, Edward L. (1950). A history of Portland's secondary school system with emphasis on the superintendents and the curriculum (Thesis/dissertation). University of Portland. pp. 66,97,160. OCLC 232551057. 
  13. ^ "School Blaze Is Laid To Fire Bug" (October 26, 1922). The Morning Oregonian, p. 1.
  14. ^ "School Plans Are Ready; Washington Designs To Be Taken Up Wednesday" (April 22, 1923). The Sunday Oregonian, p. 15.
  15. ^ a b Collins, Huntly (October 9, 1977). "School's identity feared threatened". The Sunday Oregonian. p. B6. 
  16. ^ Melton, Kimberly (February 18, 2010). "School closures involve more than enrollment". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  17. ^ http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=49531
  18. ^ a b c Leeson, Fred (February 21, 2008). "Neighborhood News Updates". The Oregonian. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ http://www.pica.org/festival_detail_new.aspx?eventid=506
  21. ^ a b http://portlandpreservation.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/update-on-washington-high-school-proposed-community-center/
  22. ^ Earth Day Incorporated: We Need You! April 23, 2011 10 am – 7PM | Washington High School (SE 12th & Stark) Field
  23. ^ Buxton, Matt (April 22, 2011). "Buckman volunteers work to make turn-of-the-century neighborhood a historic district". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  24. ^ Beaven, Steve (May 22, 2013). "Buckman Historic District proposal gets a thumbs-down from the state". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  25. ^ Njus, Elliot (January 29, 2015). "Washington High School overhaul unveiled as new office tenants move in". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 31, 2015. 
  26. ^ Mapes, Jeff (July 20, 2014). "Republican Vic Atiyeh, who guided Oregon through economic upheaval, dies at 91". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  27. ^ Lillie, Mitch (January 9, 2013). "The Portland Beard". Willamette Week. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Duin, Steve (April 24, 2008). "Once upon a time at WaHi". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 24, 2010. 
  29. ^ Oliver, Gordon (May 9, 1996). "Bill Naito, 1925–1996: Portland loses a civic treasure". The Oregonian, p. A14.
  30. ^ Nobel Prize.org Linus Pauling Biography

External links[edit]