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Those pictures of the Lewis & Clark Exposition always make me sad. Those and the pictures of all the old cast iron buildings that were torn down.


Totally...the cast iron loss is so depressing...the old photos of the district make it look like a beautiful european city...so sad...the exposition losses are sad, but somewhat understandable...most of those structures were build to be temporary...it's sadly typical that they are torn down afterward. i believe the only surviving building from an expo i've seen (other than the St. John's McMenamins) is the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It is interesting to think how it would look to have some of them still around in pdx today...they were quite beautiful. granted, if they had been around in the dark ages (60's and 70's) they would have been torn down for parking lots and freeway on-ramps.


There are--or were--a couple of notable exposition buildings in San Francisco, as well: the Palace of Fine Arts, which now houses the Exploratorium, was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, and in Golden Gate Park both the original building housing the de Young Museum (replaced in 2005 by the new Herzog & deMeuron-designed building) and a portion of the Academy of Sciences building were built for an 1894 exposition.

It's amazing that those buildings have managed to last as long as they have.


Right...forgot about those...I believe they're still there...I've never actually been to SF to see them :-)

Sue Staehli

Thanks, Brian. Very well written piece about the dad I knew and loved.

Jim Heuer

A very nice and richly deserved tribute to one of Portland's stalwarts in the Historic Preservation Movement. We met Al when he was a member of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation and we were going through the rather daunting process of nominating our home for the National Register of Historic Places.

Al performed the on-site review and led a lot of the discussion during the hearing on the nomination. There were a number of nominations reviewed that day, and Al showed his determination that they should be prepared to a high standard of scholarship and clearly demonstrate the value of the buildings to our regional history. He sent some of the applicants that day back to re-work their nominations -- and we were greatly relieved when he voted for ours to be approved with only minor changes.

Everyone in the Preservation community mourns his passing.

On the previous comments regarding the buildings at the Lewis and Clark Expo of 1905, you're right that most were intended to be temporary. The one glorious, and now much lamented, example that was intended to be permanent was the Forestry Building -- a fantasy of custom cut, giant Douglas Fir logs with their bark left on, designed by A. E. Doyle (of Riverdale School fame). Alas, Portland didn't realize what a treasure it was, the City Council refused to vote money for a sprinkler system, and in 1964 it burned to the ground in a fire of suspicious origins.

Paul Falsetto

Thank you, Brian, for sharing such a nice tribute to Al Staehl. It was my pleasure to have known Al for a dozen years serving as members of the AIA Historic Resources Committee, in which he was a very active participant. Al really was the first of his kind – an architect that had a learned specialty in preserving historic structures. His architecture training allowed him to understand all the usual requirements for buildings, and his training in Italy gave him insight into specific preservation techniques. All this combined with a very bright mind and a detail-oriented nature to produce what many of us consider to be the prototype within the profession – Al Staehl.
His wry wit and unassuming nature belied his standing in the field and his quality and quantity of work. A few years back I was working on Old College Hall at Pacific University, preparing it to move to a new location on the campus. I found out that Al wrote an early preservation plan for the building, and asked if he would share any insight on it. He graciously welcomed me into his house and down in the basement, where boxes upon boxes of his project archives were stored. His report on Old College Hall was top notch, and Al showed me a few others of his impressive projects. I am happy to say that his archive of professional work is now at the University of Oregon, were it will inform numerous future rehabilitations and provide a masterful standard for all of us to strive towards.
Al will definitely be missed, but his contributions to our region and profession will live on.

Mike Francis

What I remember best about Al was the time he gave a slide show at a Historic Preservation League of Oregon board meeting. It consisted of pictures he'd taken inside the original kitchen of a Ladd's Addition home he'd been invited to see.

To the average person, it might have looked like a cramped, charmless, outdated utilitarian space, but to Al, it was testimony to the way Portlanders used to live, with every square inch designed precisely for the purpose it served. He had a marvelous eye and a gift for sharing his appreciation, and Portland is a better place for it.

Amanda Cornwall

Many, many respectful thanks from a grand-niece.

Judy Gerrard

I remember Al from my days on the Board at HPLO. He was constant in his leadership, forever giving of his knowledge, and purposeful in his passion about the heritage of our built environment. I just found some videotape footage from the 1980s - a series of Rehab Oregon Right workshops. I saw Al in the crowd asking questions to encourage everyone's learning. The tapes are headed to the UO Historic Preservation Program. I was looking on the internet to make sure I spelled Al's name correctly, and was saddened to find this news of his passing.

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