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Ann Williams Thomas

The name of the architect is actually Benjamin Wistar Morris.

Bradley Maule

Ann, you are of course correct. All my notes say Morris, but somehow I mistyped Harris and copied it a couple times. Thanks for that - it's been fixed.


Great post - looking forward to more profiles.

Jim Heuer

A fine post... For those who wonder how this early skyscraper has managed to survive in our downtown and not be replaced by something bigger, the answer is that this is one of the largest of Portland's historic buildings subject to a Preservation Easement. A Preservation Easement is a State of Oregon recognized legal status that prevents the building from being demolished or its historic elements altered -- forever. It is voluntarily placed on a property by its owners who, in doing so, give up any rights to replace or redevelop it in perpetuity.

The Historic Preservation League of Oregon is the official administrator of the program and has the job of monitoring buildings covered by the program and, if necessary, bringing legal action against owners who violate the terms of the Easement.

It may be an apocryphal story, but I have heard that about 10 years ago the then-owner of the Wells Fargo Building offered the HPLO $1 million in cash if they would agree to terminate the Preservation Easement so as to replace it with a larger structure. At the time the HPLO could certainly have used the money, but their Board of Directors, rightly in my opinion, refused, and the Wells Fargo Building still proudly stands as our 104-year old first true skyscraper -- and will do so for many years into the future.

Chris Shaffer

Where is it? Why not provide addresses with these stories?

Bradley Maule

Chris, that's a good idea. I'll do that for the rest of the series. The Wells Fargo Building is at SW 6th & Oak, or 309 SW 6th Ave.

Jim, thanks for the commentary - it's certainly one with a happy ending. Or rather, a happy non-ending.

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