Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pihl Transfer Co.

Prael, Hegele Building, 1906 (Maddox Building)

This sign along the top of the Prael, Hegele Building has had at least two versions over the years. Originally it said "Drayage - Oregon Transfer Co. - Storage" and I believe more recently, "Pihl Transfer Co." occupied the place. Remnants steadfastly remain for those who know where to look. On NW 13th between Hoyt and Irving, it's not one of those obvious signs so so walk over to NW 14th and Hoyt and take a look back.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The Crane Building, 1909

The Crane Building is presently undergoing redevelopment including a penthouse addition to the roof, but fortunately the developers are leaving the old "Crane" sign as it is. You have to back off several blocks to see this one; I took this photo from the corner of NW 14th and Lovejoy (look south).


Monday, September 24, 2007

The Modern Confectionery Co., Part 2

Modern Confectionery Building, 1907

This is the north side of the Modern Confectionery Building. It's a wonder that the building survived because of its ragged condition; note the large crack above the upper-left window. But brick and mortar survived as well as its signs. The fire escape was removed and replaced with nice wrought iron balconies, and a red patina was applied to the bricks. The ads are actually more readable now than they were in 1996, a pleasant turn of events.

Below is the west-facing side. Very legible, very nice!

Friday, September 21, 2007


Oregon Transfer Company Building, 1910 1911

I love this sign; huge, bold, colorful. Not as old as many signs in the district, it's a real eye-catcher nonetheless. It's on the west-facing wall of the Chown Pella Lofts at NW 13th and Glisan.

Also compare the more recent pictures with a quick glimpse of the sign captured in Gus Van Sant's 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. The sign itself has been cut off at top and left, and the white "Chown Showcase" area in the upper right has been replaced with just the word "Chown" and no background color.

1989 - Drugstore Cowboy:
(image: Avenue Pictures)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

West Bearing & Parts

The West Bearing & Parts sign, although admittedly not nearly as old as many in the area, is weathering fairly well. West Bearing has been in business since 1921 but if I had to date this sign I'd put it at the 1940s or 1950s. But while the sign is still in pretty decent shape, I fear for its future because I suspect the building itself will not last much longer. So my advice is go down to NW12th and Flanders and see it while you can.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Morse Drayage & Warehouse Co.

"Morse Drayage & Warehouse Co.," "Paper Mills," Fine Wines." This building has seen a lot of businesses come and go over the years. The vertical extension in the northeast corner is a false front and I believe was meant solely as an advertising location; the 1998 photo faintly shows what was probably "FINE WINE" in big block letters. Those letters are gone now.

View this from the NW 14th and Marshall.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blitz-Weinhard Co.

For over 100 years the Blitz-Weinhard brewery building has been a landmark on the corner of NW 12th and W. Burnside. While it brewed its last batch of beer in 1999, the building remains a cornerstone of the Pearl District redevelopment. The beautiful red brick lost its painted "Blitz-Weinhard Co." sign years ago, but its ghost still remains on the north (Burnside) face.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Chown Pella

Oregon Transfer Company Building, 1910 1911

One of the first warehouse-to-loft conversions in the Pearl District was the old Chown Pella warehouse on NW 13th between Flanders and Glisan. At the time, most buildings in the area were low one- to four-stories in height and this east-facing wall was visible for quite a distance. Conversion to lofts cut windows in the wall but the signs were just barely touched. Slightly more faded now, the signs and water tower are still a treat to see. Get this view from NW Flanders between 11th and 12th.

Before its incarnation as the Chown warehouse, this was home to Oregon Transfer Co. Warehouse No. 1 was the north building, Warehouse No. 2 was the south building. If you look at the red/orange band of paint under the top of the east face of the south building in just the right light, you can still barely make out "Oregon Transfer Co."


Here's the northeast wall in 2007. Obviously some damage to the signs but still very visually appealing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Go Faster

Buddha Building, 1900

I'll bet this was a beauty in its time. It's very hard to make anything out now but it looks like there was a colorful scene with some marble columns and shimmering water. The only letters still readable are "Go Faster" which I'm guessing was a tire ad. Since Babylonian or Greek temple themes generally are not used to sell tires, I'm assuming this space advertised several items over the years.

The circles on the right side could be tires, they could be bottle caps - virtually impossible to tell any more. Stand on the corner of NW 10th and Flanders and view this on the north face of the extremely cool Buddha Building. If you can make out what it once advertised, please let me know.

The one-story building in the foreground of the 1996 photo no longer exists. Two of the Lovejoy Columns are on display in that space.

6/17/08 Update: I happened to catch this on a day when the lighting was just right and was able to make out the top circle on the right: "Signal Gasoline." When looking at the 1996 photo, the bottom circle was more visible; deterioration over the years has made that bottom circle even more faded than the top one now.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Thomsen's Candies

The biggest change in the Thomsen's "Quality First" Candies sign over the past decade has been the growth of the buildings looming over it. I believe that Thomsen's Candies were made by Pacific Coast Biscuit Company; it shares the north-facing wall with the Snow Flake Sodas sign. View this from the corner of NW 12th and Everett.


Friday, September 7, 2007

EOFF Electric Company

It's really hard to miss the EOFF Electric Company sign from the corner of NW 11th and Hoyt. It was one of the first buildings in the Pearl District to undergo renovation and the windows were cut into the sign even before my first photo in 1996, near the beginning of the area's renaissance. Although fading a bit, and surrounding construction notwithstanding, it's still an eye-catcher.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Certain-Teed Products

This sign is a many-layered canvas. Certain-Teed Products Corporation probably had the first sign up and it streched across the entire width of that wall. It's still very readable. Less so is the section nearest the street. The Cronin Co., an early Portland saddle and harness company, occupied the building at one time and advertised in that space. An ad for Hood Tires was there at one time also. Taggers defaced a small portion of the lower right corner of that sign (slightly visible in the 2007 photo) but it's been pretty well cleaned up.

Finally, there was an automotive equipment company sign back on the far end of the wall (more tires!).

The Dehen Factory Outlet now occupies that building at NW 10th and Flanders. The US Bank, six or seven blocks away, used to be visible but the Elizabeth Lofts building now looms overhead from across the street.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Drayage - Storage

Prael, Hegele Building, 1906 (Maddox Building)

Not much call for Drayage services anymore; you're not likely to find that listed in the yellow pages. That service is gone and this sign is not far behind. Located at NW 13th and Hoyt, it shows significant deterioration, especially the "Drayage" side. Look quickly, it will only be there for a couple more decades. Sorry for the crappy 1996 photo.

10/9/07 Update - Re: Drayage services - my brother tells me otherwise and he's right; they do still exist and you can find them in the yellow pages.

Also, I've seen a 1921 photo of this building. In the arch above the door, it said, "Oregon Transfer Co. Warehouse No. 3"


Monday, September 3, 2007

Drugstore Cowboy - Special Feature

Gus Van Sant filmed the opening sequence to his 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy in the old industrial northwest section of Portland. To say the area has changed since then is an understatement. The area between NW Broadway and 12th north of Lovejoy Ave. was all railroad tracks. Some tracks between NW 8th and 12th continued down to Hoyt and spurs on 11th and 12th went all the way to Burnside to service the Blitz Weinhard brewery. Now known as the Pearl District, the area is packed with high-rise condos and toney shops catering not to the grimy train man, but the upper income set. Van Sant's film captured a bit of old Portland (and old Portland signs) that, for good or bad, no longer exists.

The opening shot shows Bob Hughes (actor Matt Dillon) under the Lovejoy Ave. ramp at about 12th street. Looking south, the white building in the upper right now is home to the Cultured Pearl at 12th and Hoyt. The building behind and to the left of it, with the slanted roof, is the Pacific Coast Biscuit Co. building and the red smudge on its face is the Snow Flake Sodas sign. Stand on the corner of Lovejoy and 12th today and look south. You're now standing in the center of a maze of high density condos and shops with a very limited view indeed.

In this scene, Kelly Lynch's character Dianne stands directly under the Lovejoy ramp next to one of the Lovejoy Columns (you're looking west). The building behind her with the red stripe (now painted all gray) still stands on the corner of Lovejoy and 12th.

The same column, again looking west but to the north of Lovejoy. That building, at 13th street, was demolished in May 2007 to make way for a Safeway and residential/retail complex.

Try this now and you're likely to be run down by traffic or the streetcar on Lovejoy.

I recently posted photos of the Oregon Transfer Co. sign at NW 13th and Flanders. Heather Graham (the lovely and doomed Nadine) frolicked in front of that sign in this scene. Heather fans: stand in her place and take a self portait.

Same sign, James LeGros (Rick) and Heather Graham.

(Images: Avenue Pictures)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Oregon Transfer Co.

Oregon Transfer Company Building, 1910 1911

Just to the left of the Warehouse No. 2 sign is this fine example. Again, bold, colorful and right at street level for easy viewing. See it on the corner of NW 13th and Flanders.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Warehouse No. 2

Oregon Transfer Company Building, 1910 1911

I love this one; simple, bold, colorful, well-preserved. This had obviously been repainted in the years before my 1996 photo because most south-facing signs don't stay this fresh. It deteriorated some in the following decade but is well worth the walk past the Chown Pella lofts building on NW Flanders between 12th and 13th to see this street-level sign.