WHEN BUILDINGS SPEAK: STORIES TOLD BY OREGON'S HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE,
Interpreted and Illustrated by Alice Cotton, ( Portland, Oregon; Artemis Publishing,
2001), Paper, 9XI2, 70 pp., Index, $20. Available at local bookstores.
The buildings in this attractive volume do "speak" to us of their history. The twenty included each are presented with a nice artistic sketch of the architecture and a brief historical piece on the building. Of the twenty, all in western Oregon, fourteen are residences, many still serving that purpose; the other six are the Old Scotch Church north of Hillsboro, Union Station in Portland, The Journal Building (or Jackson Tower in downtown Portland), the Hollywood Theatre on northeast Sandy Boulevard, The Kennedy School in northeast Portland and the Tillamook Bay Coast Guard Station in Garibaldi. The unifying feature in this group is that they are all listed as National Register properties, and also each has a unique story behind it.
The author chose this group of buildings and sketched each with a great deal of emotion; the architectural qualities of each touched her sense of architectural beauty. In the process of finding each building and going to that site to sketch, she made acquaintance with a number of the present owners. Between what she learned from them and the library reference materials she sought out, she gained a good bit of insight into the history of each building.
For each building she names the architectural style, the name or names of the architect(s) or architectural firm, the date and the original purpose of the building. A number of the sites are connected with very well known and influential figures in the annals of Oregon history, and she weaves that story into the history of the building.
As I read and perused I noted that the final building, the Pipes English cottage on St. Helen's Court lacked a city-directional in its address, so I searched it out using my Thomas Portland Guide. Found it in South West, and I set out to locate that address. When I got there I found it within a block (over a pedestrian bridge across a ravine west of Ainsworth School where I had spent a number of happy years in that school library). Although in all the years I had been there I had never ventured that far west.
Of all the buildings included in this volume, I discovered that over the years I had had the pleasure of visiting or touring many. Though small a book it is, the architect author has nicely added a short appendix explaining and discussing some simple principles of architectural which relate to buildings in the book. A glossary of architectural terms which helps the reader appreciate the text are also included. Lovely reading for any western Oregonian, and or for any searcher who appreciates the beauty of buildings about us! (EAW)