AKA: Olds and King Company, Department Store, Portland, OR

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - department stores

Designers: Belluschi, Pietro, FAIA, Architect (firm); Doyle and Patterson, Architects (firm); Pietro Belluschi (architect); Albert Ernest Doyle (architect); William B. Patterson (engineer)

Dates: constructed 1909-1910

5 stories

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Portland, OR

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In 1925, the B.F. Schlesinger Company of Oakland, CA, (renamed "Western Department Stores, Incorporated" in 1941) purchased the Olds, Wortman and King Company Department Store. Western shortened the name of the Portland Store back to "Olds and King" in 1944. In 1960, Western renamed all of its stores "Rhodes Department Stores," after its Tacoma,WA-based Rhodes Brothers Department Store subsidiary. Rhodes/Western was itself bought out in 1969 by the AMFAC Merchandising Corporation of Hawaii, which continued to operate it under the Rhodes name. With sales lagging, AMFAC finally closed this giant Portland space on 02/02/1974. Local investors, the Naito Brothers, purchased the block after its closure and remodeled it into a large mall, filled with small, separate stores and eating places. They renamed it the "Galleria."

The Olds, King and Wortman Department Store was the first in Portland to occupy a full city block. City blocks in Portland, however, were 260 by 260 feet, smaller than city blocks in Seattle or most other large American cities. The leading Portland architectural firm of the day, Doyle and Patterson, designed a large, hollow-centered box, its exterior sheathed in white terra cotta. Entry could be gained from all sides. The central 53 x 33-foot atrium with its glazed skylight admitted light into the inner reaches of the building, supplementing the new electric lights; atria were commonly found in the immense new department stores of the early 20th century; aside from transmitting natural light, these large central spaces also became spectacles unto themselves, attractive places to sit and people watch. The atrium became an added dimension of shopping. The building had many features considered modern in 1910: wide use of telephones, banks of elevators (in this case, two groups of six), various novel uses of electric lights, and a varied array of specialized rooms designed to make the store a full-day destination. Women could drop their children off in the store's nursery in the morning, shop in the morning, have lunch in the tea room, and attend an afternoon social event on the roof garden.

The store underwent a remodeling in 1926 that swapped out the existing hardwood floor for a more grand marble one. Another sweeping remodeling program, supervised by the firm of Pietro Belluschi (1899-1994), occurred between 1946-1951. This effort modernized interior surfaces, added escalators to supplement new elevators, and covered the atrium.

National Register of Historic Places (February 20, 1991): 91000057 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 17175