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Bart King


Katherin Kirkpatrick

Thank you for a thoughtful piece. Sadly, claims of "cleanup" notwithstanding, this building is simply in the way of the PDC's vision of developing the polluted harbor as a brownfield. In the words of Earl Blumenauer, Portland rate payers have already "spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and we haven't even started cleaning yet." More likely, with landmarks out of the way, the city will give (has given?) a large chunk of that money in the form of PDC grants to Schnitzer or Zeidell or any number of its other development interests to speculate on residential properties which they will build on a capped-but-still-dirty site. Then the few dollars of public money left will go to an "educational program" advising nearby residents not to eat the fish, or go outside, or touch anything.

I wish I were joking.

Allan Classen

NW Natural gives substantial amounts to charities without considering it an unfair burden on ratepayers. Saving the Gasco "ruins" as a landmark and record of past practices in the energy industry relates more directly to their mission than giving to the arts, I would think.

Brian Libby

Since writing this post, I've spoken with Scott Ray Becker, head of the Save the Portland GasCo Building group. He told me that the land underneath the building is not contaminated, and that keeping the building does not conflict with the company's mandated cleanup of the riverside there. He said that NW Natural also has no plans to build another building on that site. They just feared an earthquake bringing the building down onto another more recent building they constructed there. Becker told me that NW Natural is going to spend $2 million on deconstruction, but they wouldn't give the same amount towards what they said was necessary to seismically protect it. And of course seismically protecting the building would have been a silly endeavor anyway. If what Becker is saying is true, this is all the more reason it should have just been left as a ruin, and it actually would have saved NW Natural to do so.


What? The company is not going to spend 2 million to demolish it. In addition the OPUC would have to agree to charge ratepayers the two million to save it. They would not have approved that. Stockholders of the company would not have approved of spending the funds to save it either.

Sheilaelaine Smith

I don't know if this is possible but I've always envisioned a train going from Seaside to downtown Portland with stops in St Helens, Scappoose, etc and this building a train station with connecting buses into St Johns. Commuters going to work each morning could use this train, families on vacation to the coast (short term parking) and just those wanting a day adventure. That's my dream for this beautiful building.


Donations to art organizations and charitable organizations come from NNG stockholders and are not charged to rate payers

Jeff Joslin

I'm a preservationist. I've got the bills and scars to show for it. And I've appreciated and fantasized about this building for the last 25 years like so many others.

But in 25 years it's sat fallow. In the 15 years I oversaw some of PDXs preservation programs, I'd receive a call of concern or inquiry every few years, but little more. Some of those years were back in the day when protective designations could be applied without owner consent. While that prospective direction was suggested, none bit.

The fact is, the site's been neglected for decades. It's an irreversible amount of deterioration for such a structure.

I consider this more of a blameless inevitability than an act of cultural callousness. The recent efforts to shine a light on the site did so effectively, and forced the appropriate amount of attention to determine - in this iconic case - there truly was no viable path to maintain it as sculpture and vestige.

To the extent we can anthropomorphize this relic, I think it's a fitting analogy that friends and family have gathered around in appropriate appreciation in these - it's final days. It's qualities have been well documented as a result, and this chapter will live on as a significant contribution to it's story, and a meaningful and fitting epitaph.

Good work, all. My genuine condolences, farewell sightly friend, and thanks to the building and its progenitors who provided such lyrical visual fodder over these decades.

Rich Collins

Why can't NW Natural Gas in a newsletter and emails, outright ask their customers, if they'll support a slight per customer increase for a year or two, to clean it up? Just ask us. It might be approved, then they'd just charge us to save it.

Jeff Belluschi

Jeff, right on! I just came back from 2.5 weeks in Catalunya. Roman walls are present everywhere from Costa Brava southward and are cherished remains going back a thousand years.Even Barcelona reclaimed the bullfighting arena and made it into an awesome shopping center with rooftop restaurants.

I will miss that building.

Sad to lose what little history we have in our young state.

Rich Collins

I wrote NW Natural this suggestion:

Saving the Gasco building is a simple matter, just send out a newsletter to all your customers with a monthly increase amount totaling all the costs involved and Just Ask Us. If its a small amount over 2-5 years why not allow the community to vote on it?
I'll let you know if I hear back Brian.

Brett Laurila

Could NW Natural take a lesson from PGE?

Granted the GasCo building is in far worse shape than the old PGE Hawthorn building which was utilized by PGE until its sale. ( PGE staff recognized that a developer might be interested in the building once its cleanup was complete) PGE put out a request for proposals for a few selected developers and the site/building was sold, adapted and is now a wonderful creative office space in inner SE.

It seems that with the growth in popularity of Linton and other NW industrial riverfront neighborhoods, that NW Natural could turn this into a similar RFP, if the site is truly "clean". This would cost them very little - time mainly - and could possibly buy the building time and NWN some needed goodwill.

Unfortunately, I feel Mr. Joslin is correct. We should say goodbye, greave for its loss, and impart its varied and expressive images to memory.

Brian Libby

What still irks me the most is that I haven't heard a good reason for NW Natural to tear the building down. The land underneath the building is not contaminated, they have no plans for another structure on that land, and the $2 million they're seeking for seismic upgrades is unnecessary for a structure that people simply want to leave as a ruin. If NWN is so concerned about seismic issues, they might turn their attention to the many oil takes sitting on land that will liquefy in a big quake.

David Schmidt

I've always liked the design character of this building, with all the little details.

It is a good example of 1900 vintage 3D printing. It is made like a lot of concrete elevators by moving a mold upwards as they poured layers of concrete mix. It is fairly amazing that they molded in all those details.

Jeff Joslin

Re the other Jeff (Jeff B's) reference to other ruins: unfortunately, even this seemingly stout relic was not designed and built with the level of quality and permanence of those ruins across the planet that we fetishize. I've worked on the restoration of turn-of-the-19th/20th century steel and steel-reinforced buildings where all the structure metal had turned to dust (in one case, I could push my finger through what had been in 1896 a one-inch thick web of a steel been as a result of ongoing water penetration). These buildings were just not built in a way that could sit and survive once left to their own - and nature's - devices.

While I'm not aware of any detailed structural assessment here, intuitively I'm pretty certain the decades of neglect and resultant degradation would have been irreparable regardless of seismic/reinforcement efforts.

Joseph Gallivan

Why not scan it and make 3D models as doll houses, executive mementoes, key rings etc?

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