Portland, OR—The South Park Blocks (SPB), an 8.76-acre, city-owned park in downtown Portland, Multnomah County, is among Oregon’s latest entries in the National Register of Historic Places. Oregon’s State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) recommended the nomination at their November 2021 meeting. The National Park Service accepted this nomination in March 2022.
SPB, officially addressed as 1003 SW Park Avenue, encompasses twelve blocks and serves as the anchor of downtown’s cultural and educational districts. The park illustrates the pedestrian mall concept which became a popular urban redevelopment scheme in the United States starting in the 1950s and through the 1970s. The park mall concept is reflected in SPB’s linear north-south contiguous greenspace nestled within urban buildings, cultural venues, apartments, Portland State University (PSU) campus buildings, and historic churches.
The boundaries of the SPB were selected because they represent the boundaries of the park within its period of significance (1852-1973) and includes all of the contributing resources that relate to that period. Originally conceived by Daniel H. Lownsdale, the park area has been consistently defined since its original platting in 1852 with few changes to the park’s historic boundaries. In the 1870’s, the city established the park’s formal landscape design under the guidance of Portland horticulturist Louis G. Pfunder.
The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. More information about the National Register and recent Oregon listings are online at www.oregonheritage.org
(listed under “Designate”).
Properties listed in the National Register are:
• Recognized as significant to the nation, state, or community;
• Considered in the planning of federal or federally-assisted projects;
• Eligible for federal and state tax benefits;
• Qualify for historic preservation grants when funds are available;
• Eligible for leniency in meeting certain building code requirements;
• Subject to local laws pertaining to the conservation and protection of historic resources.
National Register listing does not place any restrictions on a property at the state or federal level, unless property owners choose to participate in tax benefit or grant programs.
Jason Allen, Preservation Programs Bureau Chief