Parting Shots: Minor White’s Images of Portland, 1938-1942
June 21, 10:00 am - June 24, 5:00 pm
Parting Shots: Minor White’s Images of Portland, 1938-1942
March 3 – December 23, 2017
Architectural Heritage Center
701 SE Grand Ave., Portland, OR 97214
The Architectural Heritage Center/Bosco-Milligan Foundation is presenting an original exhibition of 35 photographs of historic Portland buildings taken by renowned photographer Minor White. With digital images provided by the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society, White’s eloquent photographs of Portland’s most significant 19th-century architecture, much of which was lost to demolition in the 20th century, are presented for the first time in conjunction with architectural artifacts rescued from those buildings. The artifacts, some of which were captured in vivid detail in White’s images, are drawn from the Architectural Heritage Center/Bosco-Milligan Foundation’s permanent collection of over 20,000 architectural elements, one of the largest such collections in the western U.S.
Minor White (1908 – 1976) was one of the most important American photographers of the 20th century. His professional career as a photographer began in Portland with the images he took of the city’s buildings, street scenes, and private residences while working for the Works Progress Administration from 1938 to 1940 and for the Portland Art Museum in 1942. At this time downtown commercial buildings near the waterfront were being targeted for demolition as were many of the city’s most opulent 19th-century mansions. Many of the buildings appearing in White’s work were demolished within a few years of being photographed, although in some instances White vividly captured demolitions in progress.
In this unprecedented exhibit at the Architectural Heritage Center, White’s seminal images are presented alongside rare physical remnants from these now lost buildings that were featured in the photographer’s work. On display are artifacts made of cast iron, galvanized sheet iron, terra cotta, and fine woods that demonstrate the quality of craftsmanship and materials used in Portland buildings in the late 19th century and which exist as the only surviving relics of these structures. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a full-scale reconstruction of an exquisite wood paneled wall and fireplace surround with Circassian walnut inlay from the opulent Knapp House, recorded to be the most expensive house in the city when it was built in northwest Portland in 1884. The exhibit also includes a massive, ten-foot-wide doorway pediment from the lavish Italianate Jacobs-Dolph House, built in 1881 and demolished just days after White photographed it in 1942. Among the other architectural artifacts on view is a larger-than-life, hand-carved cedar sculpture of a human head from the commercial Ladd Block, erected in downtown Portland in 1881 and demolished in 1965, as well as ornamental terra cotta rescued from the famed Congress Hotel (demolished 1978), a premier example of the use of the material.
“We are excited to put into conversation White’s powerful photographs and the Architectural Heritage Center’s unique architectural artifacts,” stated Executive Director Stephanie Whitlock. “They are critical visual records from this pivotal period in Portland’s architectural and urban history and they prompt us to think about the important role that both individuals and museums play in documenting, preserving, and interpreting the past.”
Support for Parting Shots comes from The Kinsman Foundation, ESCO Foundation, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, Pacific Power Foundation, the Van Evera and Janet M. Bailey Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, and Harris S. Matarazzo, Attorney at Law.
Based in Portland, Oregon and founded in 1987, the mission of the non-profit Bosco-Milligan Foundation is to inspire people to conserve the art, craft, and context of historic buildings and places to promote the city’s cultural heritage as a vital element of livable, sustainable communities. The Foundation, one of Oregon’s most active and influential historic preservation organizations, serves as a catalyst for preservation efforts through public programs, exhibitions, and advocacy at the local, state, and national levels.
The Bosco-Milligan Foundation’s permanent, nationally-significant collection of historic architectural elements was begun by organization founders Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan. Many were rescued from demolished structures between the 1960s and 1980s, while others were donated to the Bosco-Milligan Foundation in recent years for education and public display. Today the collection consists of over 20,000 architectural artifacts and is one of the largest architectural artifacts collections in the western U.S.
The Architectural Heritage Center
Owned and operated by the Bosco-Milligan Foundation, the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC) is a resource center for historic preservation located in the rehabilitated 1883 West Block’s Building in Portland’s East Portland/Grand Avenue Historic District. AHC programs explore diverse topics in architecture history and preservation, and include rotating gallery exhibitions, talks, panel discussions, and workshops, among other events. The AHC also runs a full program of docent-led architecture and history walking tours throughout downtown and many Portland neighborhoods.
AHC Gallery Hours and Visitor Information
The AHC is open to the public Wednesday–Saturday, 10am–5pm. Admission is free for AHC members and $5 for the general public. The AHC is accessible.
Group tours available upon request.
Cover image: Minor White, “Lorenzo Apartments, SW 11th and Salmon, Portland, Oregon,” 1940 (Oregon Historical Society Research Library, bb015339.)