United States Customhouse (Portland, Oregon)

Last updated
U.S. Customhouse
Portland Historic Landmark [1]
U.S. Custom House, Portland, OR Jun 03.jpg
U.S. Custom House, June 2003
Downtown Portland.png
Red pog.svg
USA Oregon location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location220 NW 8th Ave., Portland, Oregon
Coordinates 45°31′30″N122°40′37″W / 45.52500°N 122.67694°W / 45.52500; -122.67694 Coordinates: 45°31′30″N122°40′37″W / 45.52500°N 122.67694°W / 45.52500; -122.67694
Arealess than one acre
Built1898–1901
Architect Edgar M. Lazarus
Architectural style Italian Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference No. 74001714 [2]
Added to NRHPMay 2, 1974

The U.S. Customhouse is a historic custom house in Portland in Multnomah County, Oregon. It was constructed to house offices of the United States Customs Service. It was built in 1898–1901 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is currently used as the Portland, Oregon location for WeWork, a coworking space provider.

Contents

The building was used for filming as the exterior of the Portland Police station in the NBC series Grimm.

Building history

Fueled by Portland's economic development during the late 19th century, the U.S. Custom House was constructed to accommodate the city's burgeoning prosperity and status. In 1875, the U.S. Customs Service first established a presence in Portland, moving into the newly constructed U.S. Post Office, Courthouse, and Custom House building (now known as the Pioneer Courthouse). As the city outgrew the space, a new Federal building was planned to house the Customs Service and additional courtrooms. In 1898, construction began on the present U.S. Custom House, reaching completion in 1901. [1]

The building was designed in the office of James Knox Taylor, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury Department, and constructed under the supervision of architect Edgar M. Lazarus. Lazarus is known for his designs for the Vista House at Crown Point and the Agricultural Palace for the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition (no longer extant). Together, Taylor and Lazarus brought the new Custom House to fruition in a style inspired by the English Renaissance architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, with similarities to the mannered style that characterized London architect James Gibbs's public architecture. [1]

In 1938, the east and west wings gained fourth floors to accommodate additional office space. In 1968, when the U.S. Customs Service moved into the Old Post Office Building at 511 NW Broadway, the North Pacific Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers occupied the building, until they moved to a new location in December 2004. The building's scale and distinguished design aesthetically enhances its neighborhood and serves as an anchor on the margin of the North Park Blocks, a row of seven blocks originally intended as open space in the late 19th century. In 1970, upon the recommendation of the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission, the City Council designated the U.S. Custom House as a Historic Landmark. In 1973, the U.S. Custom House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. [2] [1]

Current Use

After the US Custom was vacated in 2004 the Custom House was considered for an International School though ultimately this was determined not to be feasible and the Property was put up for auction. After an extended process the Property was purchased at auction by Eastern Real Estate LLC in March 2012 with a bid of $4.74 million, [3] with the sale finalized in October 2012. [4] In April 2015, WeWork announced plans to expand to Portland, leasing the Custom House for use as shared office space. [5] In conjunction with WeWork's leasing the entire Custom House building the Property was renovated in phases and WeWork opened for business in 2017. The property was intricately restored under the dedicated guidance of local architect, Dick Kirschbaum, of GBD Architects. Eastern Real Estate sold the Property in Q4 2017 to a new owner. WeWork left the Customs House location in 2021, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the massive protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, and the situation regarding homeless people in downtown Portland. [6]

Architecture

Custom House building, June 2008 US Custom House - Portland Oregon.jpg
Custom House building, June 2008

Portland's U.S. Custom House is a large edifice, encompassing a full block bounded by NW Broadway, Everett and Davis Streets, and Eighth Avenue, near the downtown. The four-story building is symmetrical, H-shaped in plan, featuring pavilions extending to the north and south from the central mass. An elegant one-story granite loggia of five tall, arched openings with rusticated walls and a scrolled parapet encloses the entry courtyard and opens onto Eighth Avenue and the North Park Blocks beyond. [1]

The U.S. Custom House is an exemplary display of the Italian Renaissance Revival style of architecture, exhibiting Baroque and Mannerist features. The building's first-story walls are brick masonry sheathed in light-gray granite, with rusticated joints and quoins at the corners, and are pierced by window and door openings headed with articulated semicircular arches. A continuous granite stringcourse carved with Vitruvian scrolls and a balustrade above divide the first and second floors. The upper stories are composed of Roman brick with terra-cotta detailing and crowned with a dentil cornice molding supported by scrolled consoles. The flanking pavilions are capped with slate-covered pyramidal roofs, prominently featuring two ornamental vent stacks clad in terra cotta atop a rusticated stone base. [1]

A distinctive feature that evokes the interpretative style of the mid-16th-century Italian Mannerist architecture is the ornamentation of the fenestration. This is most prominent with the second- and third-story windows’ display of the "Gibbs surround," which is characterized by keystones and spaced blocks surrounding large windows. Here, this motif is composed of terra-cotta displaying bead and reel decoration, elaborately carved quoins, keystones, and Doric order moldings. Framing the second- and third-story bays of the north and south pavilions are two-story engaged Corinthian columns, supporting a continuous architrave, which is capped with a dentiled cornice and a parapet of alternating brick panels and open balusters. [1]

Italian Renaissance Revival finishes and details are reflected on the interior spaces of the Custom House. Arched doorways, marble-clad piers, and beams with classical plaster moldings define the three bays of the first-floor entry vestibule, extending into the first- floor lobby where they are articulated with groined vaults and paneled arch soffits. Marble wainscoting continues around the room and extends to the spring line. Each story's lobby is similarly treated, but using ascending classical orders – Doric on the first floor, Ionic order on the second, and Corinthian order on the third. [1]

A grand cast-iron stairway extends from the center of the first floor to the fourth floor, featuring marble treads, double balusters with spiral and acanthus ornamentation, paneled stringers and soffits, and a molded oak handrail. Originally, windows at the landings opened into a light court, which was covered with solid panels in 1949, leaving the oak framing and trim intact. The existing vestibule and main stair lobbies are well-preserved spaces which remain as the most detailed and significant areas in the building. [1]

Typically, the office spaces include plaster finishes with oak baseboards, chair rails, and picture moldings. Although initial plans in 1897 called for two-story courtrooms in the large spaces at each end of the central wing at the third floor, these were omitted from the design after construction began in 1900. While the courtroom spaces were simplified, their large, central skylights in the paneled ceilings above were retained. The interiors were rehabilitated in 1977, removing obtrusive firewalls that had been installed in the stairwells. In 1992, GSA undertook an extensive exterior preservation project to clean, repair, and restore the historic building to its original condition. [1]

Significant events

Building facts

Related Research Articles

United States Customhouse and Post Office (St. Louis, Missouri) United States historic place

The U.S. Custom House and Post Office is a court house at 815 Olive Street in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

United States Customhouse (San Francisco) United States historic place

The U.S. Customhouse is a historic custom house located in San Francisco, California. It was built to house offices of the United States Customs Service.

United States Customhouse (Denver) United States historic place

The Federal Building and United States Custom House, Denver, Colorado is a historic courthouse and federal office building located at Denver, Colorado. It is a courthouse for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

Gene Snyder United States Courthouse United States historic place

The Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse and Custom House, also known as United States Post Office, Court House and Custom House, is a historic courthouse, custom house, and post office located at Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. It is the courthouse for the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the "United States Post Office, Court House and Custom House" name.

United States Custom House (New Orleans) United States historic place

The U.S. Custom House, also known as the Old Post Office and Custom House, is a historic government building at 423 Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was designated a National Historic Landmark, receiving this designation in 1974 and noted for its Egyptian Revival columns. Construction on the building, designed to house multiple federal offices and store goods, began in 1848 and didn't finish until 1881 due to redesigns and the American Civil War. The U.S. Customs offices have been located there since the late 19th century.

United States Custom House (Portland, Maine) United States historic place

The United States Custom House is a historic custom house at 312 Fore Street in downtown Portland, Maine. It was built from 1867–1872 to house offices of the United States Customs Service, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

United States Custom House (Baltimore) United States historic place

U.S. Custom House is a historic custom house building located at Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It is a granite, steel frame structure measuring 252 feet, 8 inches by 139 feet 6 inches. It is an exceptionally distinguished example of Beaux Arts architecture and was built from 1903 through late 1907 from plans by Hornblower and Marshall, a Washington, D.C. firm. The ceiling of the Call Room, located in the pavilion, was painted by Francis Davis Millet (1846–1912). It served as Baltimore's Custom House until 1953. Since that time various Federal agencies have occupied the building.

United States Customhouse (New Bedford, Massachusetts) United States historic place

The United States Customhouse is a historic and active custom house at 2nd and William Streets in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Architect Robert Mills designed the custom house in 1834 in a Greek Revival style. It has been used by the U.S. Customs Service ever since, and today serves as a port of entry.

Federal Building (Port Huron, Michigan) United States historic place

The Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Port Huron, Michigan is a historic courthouse and federal office building located at Port Huron in St. Clair County, Michigan. It is a courthouse of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building, United States Courthouse and Custom House

The Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building, United States Courthouse and Custom House in Duluth, Minnesota is a courthouse of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Completed in 1930, it is part of the Duluth Civic Center Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. In 2007 the United States Congress passed an act to rename the building for former Circuit Court judge Gerald Heaney. It was enacted into law that same year.

Mike Mansfield Federal Building and United States Courthouse United States historic place

The Mike Mansfield Federal Building and United States Courthouse is a courthouse of the United States District Court for the District of Montana, located in Butte, Montana. Completed in 1904, the building was expanded from 1932 to 1933.

Federal Office Building (Seattle) United States historic place

The Federal Office Building, Seattle, Washington is a historic federal office building located at Seattle in King County, Washington.

Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse United States historic place

The Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse, also known as the U.S. Post Office and Customhouse, is a historic custom house, post office and courthouse located in Richmond, Virginia. Originally constructed in 1858, it was for decades a courthouse for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. A new federal district courthouse opened in 2008, but the Powell Courthouse still houses the Fourth Circuit. The United States Congress renamed the building for Supreme Court justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., in 1993. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as U.S. Post Office and Customhouse.

James M. Ashley and Thomas W.L. Ashley United States Courthouse United States historic place

The James M. Ashley and Thomas W.L. Ashley United States Courthouse, formerly the United States Courthouse, Toledo, Ohio, is a courthouse of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio built in Toledo, Ohio, in 1932. It is named for two former Congressmen, Republican James M. Ashley, and his great grandson, Democrat Thomas W. L. Ashley.

William O. Douglas Federal Building United States historic place

The William O. Douglas Federal Building is a historic post office, courthouse, and federal office building located at Yakima in Yakima County, Washington. It is a courthouse for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Renamed in 1978, it was previously known as U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, and is listed under that name in the National Register of Historic Places.

United States Customhouse (Houston) Historic building in Houston, Texas, U.S.

The United States Customhouse is a historic custom house located at Houston in Harris County, Texas.

Owen B. Pickett United States Custom House United States historic place

The Owen B. Pickett U.S. Custom House is a historic custom house building located at Norfolk, Virginia

Federal Building (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) United States historic place

The U.S. Courthouse & Federal Office Building, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a post office, Federal office, and courthouse building located at Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. It is a courthouse for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Richard Sheppard Arnold United States Post Office and Courthouse United States historic place

The Richard Sheppard Arnold United States Post Office and Courthouse is a courthouse of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock, Arkansas. Completed in 1932, in 2003 it was renamed for Court of Appeals judge Richard S. Arnold. It is located at 500 West Capitol Avenue. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 as Little Rock U.S. Post Office and Courthouse.

United States Customs House (Fajardo, Puerto Rico) Historic place in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

The U.S. Customs House,, located at Calle Union, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, was constructed in 1930. The poured-concrete building is significant architecturally and historically for the role it played in the first, transitional phase of the American customs service in Puerto Rico, from 1898 through 1931. This period is bracketed on one end by the cession, on December 10, 1898, of the island of Puerto Rico to the United States by Spain as a condition of the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish–American War, and on the other by the completion in 1931 of the major building and rehabilitation program undertaken by the U.S. Customs Service following World War I.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "GSA - Find a Building". U.S. Custom House, Portland, OR : Building Overview. U.S. General Services Administration. August 24, 2009.
  2. 1 2 "National Register Information System  U.S. Customhouse (#74001714)". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. November 2, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  3. Culverwell, Wendy (March 14, 2012). "U.S. Custom House buyer steps forward". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  4. Culverwell, Wendy (October 3, 2012). "U.S. Custom House sale closes". Portland Business Journal by Wendy Culverwel. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
  5. Njus, Elliot (April 10, 2015). "Shared office provider WeWork will expand to Portland, take over vacant U.S. Custom House". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  6. https://www.oregonlive.com/business/2021/02/wework-may-close-us-custom-house-co-working-space-latest-blow-to-portlands-core.html
  7. "220 NW 8th Ave Portland, OR". CrediFi. Retrieved 2016-07-11.

Attribution