Welcome to “Montavilla Memories”, your site for exploring and sharing memories and information about people, places, and events in Montavilla’s past.

I’ll be contributing regular columns to Village Portland based on my research, but you are invited to share your stories about the Montavilla neighborhood of yore. If you have old photos and documents (like old newspaper articles or mementos) that would be great, too. It’s all part of building a bigger picture of where we live.

And that, I believe, helps us develop a sense of place, a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. It connects us to a common past that helped shape what Montavilla is today. We have tangible evidence of this all around us. Just look at the old commercial buildings on Stark Street, some of which go back to the early 20th Century. Or look at the houses in our neighborhoods which span the years from the late 1800s to the present.

Who were those people who worked and lived in those buildings? What was life like in the streetcar days? Who lived here before that and what did they do? How did Montavillans respond to crisis like depressions and wars? What did people do for fun? What did they really care about? These and other questions are ones we’ll explore together through “Montavilla Memories.”

I love digging through old newspapers, scrutinizing old photographs, and talking to neighbors who’ve lived here for many years. I’m relatively new to local history research, but I’ve spent most of my life in other historical pursuits— researching and writing about the work and lives of artists, teaching and lecturing on art histories at San Jose State University and other universities. In recent years, I’ve focused on family history and this interest in my Portland ancestors led me to researching history of the place where I live.

Please join me in this pursuit as a reader or as a contributor. You can send your ideas, memories, photos, scans of memorabilia or questions to me at:

Montavilla Memories:

A Montavilla Landmark: the German Baptist Retirement Home

Sidewalks of Montavilla

Buffalo Bill of Montavilla

How did Montavilla get its name?

Of Horse Rings and Horses, Part 2

From Ukraine to Montavilla: one man’s story

Of horse rings and horses, Part 1

The return of the Spanish Flu”

Historic newspapers new year’s greetings were a sign of their times

The Montavilla Hotel

Where IS Montavilla?

Montavilla hot

Montavilla movie theaters, part three: The Academy Theater

Montavilla movie theaters, part two: The Granada

Flames gut 90-year old Montavilla ice factory building

Montavilla movie theaters, part one: a postscript

Some musings on the York sculpture in Mt. Tabor Park

Montavilla movie theaters, Part one: The Silent Film Era

A holiday trip through time… from one of Montavilla’s historic newspapers

Just who was Micco T. Harjo?

Micco T. Harjo and Oregon’s first equal access bill

Shiloh Baptist, Montavilla’s first Black church

The bicycle craze comes to Montavilla

From Liberty Gardens to Victory Gardens

Montavilla and the Flu Pandemic of 1918 – 1919 

An interview with Patricia Sanders, Montavilla historical writer, on how to research your own ideas

An airship landing port in Montavilla? True or False?

How Montavilla went “dry”, or a tale of two saloons

The perfect storm of 1916

The Montavilla sewer kerfuffle

Halloween in old Montavilla

Montavilla School, Part II: The Progressive Era

What Are Those Old Buildings?

Montavilla School, Part I: The not-so-gay ‘90s

Montavilla gets a playground

Berry-picking time

An Old-Fashioned— and Safe— Montavilla Fourth of July

The Montavilla Post Office: 1891-1966

We want Bull Run water! 

Montavilla’s history beneath our feet

How Montavilla got its own fire station

The Montavilla streetcar line

When Montavilla had its own library

Montavilla Rambles:

Montavilla Ramble #1: along the northwest margin