Ghost Signs – Jefferson West Apartments (Cordova Hotel)

The businesses in this building at SW 11th and Jefferson began to dwindle and vanish right around the time I moved to Portland. The cheap apartments above the storefronts emptied out as well, being replaced by units in the Jeffrey a few blocks away.

Formerly home to the divey River City Saloon, a salon, a mail center, and a copy shop, one of the corner storefronts also served as an art and civic space called Field Work during the years between the closing of the businesses and the end of the story for the building.

I noticed a big bite had been taken out of the corner of the block in late August, exposing the interiors of some of the old apartments.

The rest has been coming down throughout September. Eventually the lot will be cleared and a new 15-story student housing development will be erected. Unfortunately, it follows the trend in private student housing of being heinously overpriced at a thousand a month for a shared room, and three hundred more if you’d like a private studio.

Whether or not the new development will be particularly useful to anyone other than transfer students with wealthy parents, it’s good to see the block redeveloped. If nothing else the luxury accommodations should soak up the moneyed kids and leave more of the older and/or PSU owned cheaper housing stock available for others; and the new construction will revitalize several block faces that have been empty and moribund for the better part of a decade.

The demolition exposed a painted sign on one of the formerly hidden walls of one of the original buildings in the conglomorate. Presumably this advertised the Cordova Hotel that was a historical occupant of the site. Besides the hotel, the building also played past host to Reed’s classrooms, several music venues, and a porno theater.


Another of the dingy landmarks I’ve been passing by since I moved here came down in the past few weeks.

I was walking by 218 SW Jefferson and noticed I could see light inside and the rafters were exposed.

Circling the block told the rest of the story.

Over a century old, it was at one point used by the Pendleton Woolen Mills company. The company still has a sizeable presence in Oregon with administrative and woolen mill facilities in the state, and even a bit of manufacturing capability.

It’s of simple design, but I always thought it had a minimalistic appeal. I’m certain it was seismically unsafe though, which is proving to be the kiss of death for many of Portland’s more humble historic properties.

Meanwhile across the river, the burned out hulk of the Taylor Electric Company building at 240 SE Clay seems to be getting a new lease on life. From the look of the renders of the project at least part of the original structure will be retained as a barrier around the parking lot for the new complex and possibly as part of the structure for the new building on the site. Seems to be a popular option for making use of some of the old bones of industrial buildings around the city.