Building Oregon

James John School (Portland, Oregon)

James John School (Portland, Oregon)
LC Subject
Architecture, American Architecture--United States
James John Elementary School (Portland, Oregon) Richard Williams School (Portland, Oregon) Williams School (Portland, Oregon)
Jones, George H. Jackson, George
Creator Display
George Howell Jones (architect, 1887-1950) George Jackson (builder/contractor)
This image is included in Building Oregon: Architecture of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, a digital collection which provides documentation about the architectural heritage of the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon Historic Site Form. Prepared by Iris Eschen.
University of Oregon Libraries
Style Period
Work Type
architecture (object genre) built works views (visual works) exterior views public schools (buildings) rooms (interior spaces) architectural drawings (visual works) plans (orthographic projections) floor-plan drawings
Portland >> Clackamas County >> Oregon >> West >> United States Multnomah County >> Oregon >> West >> United States Oregon >> West >> United States United States
Street Address
7439 North Charleston Avenue
View Date
Educational Use Permitted
Brick; Cast stone
Building Oregon
Primary Set
Building Oregon
University of Oregon
PPS Historic Building Assessment 2009
Oregon Historic Site Form James John School 7439 Charleston Ave Portland, Multnomah County block nbr: lot nbr: tax lot nbr: township: range: section: 1/ 4: LOCATION AND PROPERTY NAME elig. evaluation: eligible/ contributing primary orig use: School secondary orig use: primary style: Classical Revival: other secondary style: primary siding: Standard Brick secondary siding: Cast Stone plan type: School ( General) Portland historic name: James John School primary constr date: 1929 secondary date: height (# stories): 2 total # ineligible resources: 2 ( optional-- use for major addns) current/ other names: James John Elementary School, Richard Williams School ( c.) ( c.) orig use comments: prim style comments: sec style comments: location descr: assoc addresses: vcnty address: ( remote sites) siding comments: PROPERTY CHARACTERISTICS farmstead/ cluster name: zip: total # eligible resources: 1 apprx. addrs resource type: Building NR status: RLS survey date: 8/ 4/ 2009 external site #: 166 ( ID# used in city/ agency database) survey project name or other grouping name comments/ notes: HRI Rank III. ILS survey date: 8/ 4/ 2009 Gen File date: SHPO INFO FOR THIS PROPERTY NR date listed: GROUPINGS / ASSOCIATIONS Optional Information 7439 N Charleston Ave Multnomah County ( former addresses, intersections, etc.) architect: Jones, George H. builder: George Jackson NR date listed: ( indiv listed only; see Grouping for hist dist) 106 Project( s) PPS Historic Building Assessment 2009 Survey & Inventory Project East ( front) elevation Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 1 of 4 Oregon Historic Site Form James John School 7439 Charleston Ave Portland, Multnomah County ARCHITECTURAL / PROPERTY DESCRIPTION ( Include expanded description of the building/ property, setting, significant landscape features, outbuildings, and alterations) HISTORY ( Chronological, descriptive history of the property from its construction through at least the historic period [ preferably to the present]) Description Summary James John School is a two story reinforced concrete building with brick veneer. The campus consists of a U- shaped building ( 166A), a portable ( 166B), and a play shed ( 166C). Constructed in 1929, the school exhibits extensive use of cast- stone ornamentation to express its Classical Revival style. The school features a central projecting bay and bay windows. Symmetrically arranged aluminum windows provide the fenestration. The middle bay of the front façade projects slightly from the rest of the building. The bay is trimmed with a dentil cornice, cast- stone quoins, and a decorative panel bearing the school’s name. The main portals, located at the sides of the bay, are accented with Tuscan columns and a portico topped by an entablature. These classical elements, in addition to the building’s symmetrical plan and fenestration, serve to reinforce the ideals of order, balance, and formality. Architectural Description James John School is located in the St. Johns neighborhood of North Portland at 7439 N. Charleston. The neighborhood consists of a mixture of single family residences, multi- story apartments, and commercial buildings built primarily between 1920 and 1950 ( Sanborn Maps 1924- 1928; Sanborn Map updated to 1950). The James John Elementary School campus occupies three city blocks and the vacated Kellogg Street/ John Street right- of- way; the school is located on the northeast end of the campus and play areas and open space are on the south and west ends of the campus. A 1944 portable building ( 166B) and 1978 play shed ( 166C) are located to the west of the primary building. The two- story Classical Revival building is constructed of reinforced concrete. The red brick cladding is laid in a running bond pattern. The building features a series of flat roofs with a stone coping along the parapet. The brick walls are interrupted by a series of horizontal elements that include cast- stone cornices and aluminum windows. The building rests on a poured concrete foundation. The most important expression of the building’s Classical Revival style lies on the east ( front) elevation of the building. To emphasize the importance of the primary ( east) elevation, a central bay projects slightly from the face of the building and features a cast- stone dentiled cornice, decorative panel bearing the school’s name, and quoins. Three arched windows with stone surrounds are located in the center of the bay. The main portals are located along the end of the front elevation and feature Tuscan columns and porticos topped by entablatures. The cornice of the entablature features dentils. Above the entablatures are balustrades. The recessed portals are marked by a fanlight. The 1929 James John School is similar in plan to the U- shaped schools that were constructed during this period. The base of the U is oriented on a north- axis along N. Charleston Avenue. Like other PPS schools, the building features a central projecting bay and a gymnasium located off the rear of the central wing and between the wings that form the U. Within the interior of the central projecting bay is the school auditorium. In addition, two short corridors extend off the north and south wings to rear classrooms and the cafeteria. Rectangular classrooms and administrative offices comprise the other spaces located along the U- shaped corridor. Other character defining features include decorative brickwork along both ends of the primary ( east) elevation. In addition, the north ( side) elevation and west ( rear) elevation feature bay windows. The principal entrances, which are located along the ( east) elevation, open into stairwells that are illuminated by windows that cap the entry doors. The corridors, classrooms, and staircases retain their original wood trim and molding. Entry hallways feature their original wooden bulletin boards that bear the initials of the school. Ceilings throughout the building have been reconstructed with acoustic panels and suspended tubular lighting fixtures. Wood doors with center or rectangular light provide access to the classrooms. Flooring consists of concrete, linoleum tiles, and carpet. The building is heated by boilers located in the basement. Classrooms and other spaces are heated through console systems located beneath windows and along corridors. The classrooms feature a rectangular plan with a recessed area for closet and cupboard space. Some of the classrooms retain their original build- ins. The James John campus also includes one portable building and a play shed located to the west of the primary building. The 1944 portable ( 166B) is rectangular in shape with a central corridor on the interior. Exterior features include T- 1- 11 sliding and fixed awning windows. The 1978 play shed ( 166C) is rectangular in shape and features wooden posts, a truss system, and a built- up roof. Alterations/ Integrity James John School has undergone minor alterations since its construction. In 1956 the original play room was adapted into the cafeteria. To provide for this new use a kitchen and staff lunch room were constructed along the rear ( west) elevation of the building. In addition, doorways were added to the side elevations of the new cafeteria. In 1987, the original home economics room and the manual training room were adapted into a library. During these remodels many of the original finishes and features were removed. Other alterations include the replacement of ceiling tiles, lighting fixtures, original flooring and some of the classroom built- ins ( James John Facility Plan, James John Facility Profile). Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 2 of 4 Oregon Historic Site Form James John School 7439 Charleston Ave Portland, Multnomah County RESEARCH INFORMATION Title Records Sanborn Maps Obituaries City Directories Census Records Biographical Sources Newspapers Building Permits Property Tax Records SHPO Files State Archives State Library Local Histories Interviews Historic Photographs ( Check all of the basic sources consulted and cite specific important sources) Statement of Significance Constructed in 1929, James John School was part of the last wave of an extensive building program begun by Portland Public Schools in the early 1900s. Gradually influenced by John Dewey’s Progressive Education Movement, the program responded to changing city demographics and ideas concerning school safety, sanitation, and child centered instructional methods beginning in the first decade of the 1900s ( Rippa, 1997: passim; Cremin 1961: 135- 153; Cubberley 1915: 283- 290). By 1905, it became increasingly clear that dramatic increases in school- age children outstripped the district’s existing classroom capacity and existing schools could not effectively serve areas of the city where new residential development was occurring ( Cubberley 1915: 283- 285, 288- 290). After several well- publicized school fires elsewhere in the United States, calls for a more fundamental change in the building stock of the district began as early as 1906 when Mayor Lane called for the construction of new “ fireproof” school buildings ( Oregonian, 10- 31- 1906). In 1910, various city neighborhood “ advancement clubs” joined forces to discuss the unfit school buildings in their respective neighborhoods ( Oregonian 07- 31- 1910). Soon after this meeting, on August 16, 1910, the Portland City Council enacted a requirement that all schools constructed after January 1, 1911 would have to be of fire proof construction ( Powers and Corning 1937: 183). By 1914, in the first joint meeting between Portland city officials, Multnomah County Commissioners, and the school board, officials agreed to work with building code officials to encourage the use of fireproof construction and to implement fire safety measures in all existing and future schools ( Oregonian, 03- 31- 1914). In 1908, Portland Public Schools created the Bureau of Properties in an effort to centralize the management of the district’s various properties ( Powers and Corning 1937: 182). Within this office, the District architect took on a more formalized role in the design and maintenance of school facilities. Two of the most influential district architects during this period included Floyd Naramore and George Jones who designed a majority of the schools from 1908 to 1932. These new school buildings were often constructed of brick and concrete and were one or two stories in height. To speed the construction of the new schools and to anticipate later growth in the neighborhood, these buildings were often constructed in units sometimes referred to as extensible schools ( Powers and Corning 1937: 182). The buildings also contained more differentiated and increasingly specialized instructional spaces such as libraries, gymnasiums, science rooms, music rooms, and assembly spaces ( Powers and Corning 1937: 182). The architectural details of the new schools were largely encompassed by the Classical Revival, Colonial Revival, and Collegiate Gothic styles; architectural revivals that were viewed as inspirational and appropriate for educational settings ( Betelle 1919: 28; Sibley 1923: 66; Patton 1967: 1- 8). The architect of James John School, George Jones, was well versed in the design of school facilities through his role as Superintendent of Building for the district. The son of Thomas J. Jones, who had also served as district architect for many years, George Jones was born in Portland in 1887. After attending Oregon State College for two years, George Jones obtained a degree in architecture in 1913. Jones worked in New York for several years before serving in the U. S. Army Combat Engineers during World War I. Following his return to Portland in 1920, Jones obtained his architecture license. He quickly assumed the position of school architect after his predecessor Floyd A. Naramore became district architect for the Seattle School District. In his role as district architect, George Jones designed about 25 new schools and supervised the construction of additions for many existing building. Following his tenure with Portland Public Schools, Jones went into private practice in Portland. With architect Harold Marsh, he established the firm of Jones & Marsh. Throughout his career Jones continued to specialize in school design, with projects in Pendleton, Klamath Falls and Oregon City. The firm of Jones & Marsh also designed additions to Roosevelt High School in Portland, buildings at Concordia Academy, and the Engineering wing and coliseum at Oregon State College in Corvallis ( Ritz 2003: 217). In 1894, the St. John’s School District # 2 acquired land for $ 1,000 and built a school originally known as Center School. Completed that same year, the four room building was built for $ 4,013.00. Between 1896 and 1904, the building was expanded to include 4 rooms and a manual training building, and the name of the school was changed to Central St. James ( PPS Chronology Binder). This was annexed to PPS in 1915. By the early 1920s, PPS was planning for the construction of a new facility. The board announced in October of 1921 that it would award the construction work to George Jackson based on the low bid of $ 189,106.00, and the heating work was awarded to Dauch Heating & Engineering for $ 48,000.00. The entire cost for construction including fixtures was estimated at $ 352,300.00 ( Oregonian 10- 06- 1921). In 1926 the district acquired additional land for $ 7,000.00 ( Portland Chronology Binder). Despite the early planning, the final authorization to construct the school was not given by the board until November of 1927 ( Oregonian 11- 08- 1927). Although the Oregonian referred to the proposed school as James John as early as 1921, the district also considered the property as Richard Williams School. The name James John was officially adopted once the building was completed in 1929 ( Portland Chronology Binder; Oregonian 10- 06- 1921; Oregonian 11- 08- 1927). James John School retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association with its plan and exterior and interior finishes. The 1929 Classical Revival school is recommended as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places ( NRHP) for its association with progressive era public schools, particularly trade schools, and is a strong example of the principles that characterized the design of schools during this era ( Criterion A). While the school features elements of the Classical Revival style, its ornamentation is not as sophisticated as other Portland schools designed by George Jones. James John is therefore not eligible for listing in the NRHP under Criterion C. Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 3 of 4 Oregon Historic Site Form James John School 7439 Charleston Ave Portland, Multnomah County Local Library: Multnomah County Library University Library: Portland State University Library Historical Society: Oregon Historical Society Other Repository: PPS Archives Bibliography: Bibliography Betelle, James O. “ Architectural Styles as Applied to School Buildings.” American School Board Journal. Vol. 58 ( April 1919). Cremin, Lawrence. The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876- 1957. New York: A. Knopt, 1961. Cubberley, Ellwood Patterson. The Portland Survey: A Textbook on City School Administration Based on a Concrete Study. Yonkers- on- Hudson, NY: World Book Co., 1915. Oregonian. “ James John School will cost $ 262,723.” 10- 06- 1921. Oregonian. “ Contractors rated by gifts to chest.” 11- 08- 1927. Oregonian. “ Change Favored in School Buildings.” 3- 31- 1914. Oregonian. “ Mayor Lane and the Schools.” 10- 31- 1906. Oregonian. “ School Buildings are Called Unfit.” 7- 31- 1910. Portland Public Schools. Schools Chronology Binder. PPS Archives, Portland, OR. _______. James John Elementary Facility Plan PPS Archives. _______. James John Elementary Facility Profile. PPS Archives. Powers, Alfred and Howard McKinley Corning, History of Education in Portland. [ Portland]: Work Projects Administration, 1937. Rippa, Alexander. Education in a Free Society: An American History. New York: Longman, 1997. Ritz, Richard. E. Architects of Oregon. A Biographical Dictionary of Architects Deceased – 19th and 20th Centuries. Portland: Lair Hill Publishing, 2003. Sanborn Map Company 1924- 1928, 1908- Dec. 1950 Sanborn Maps, Multnomah County Public Library, Portland, Oregon. Available at: https:// catalog. multcolib. org/ validate? url= http% 3A% 2F% 2F0- sanborn. umi. com. catalog. multcolib. org% 3A80% 2F. Accessed June 16, 2009. Sibley, Ernest. “ Why I Prefer the Colonial Style.” School Board Journal: Vol. 66 ( January 1923). Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 4 of 4 East ( front) elevation, looking west. North side of east ( front) elevation, looking west. South ( side) and west ( rear) elevations, looking northeast. North ( side) elevation, looking west. West ( rear) elevation at cafeteria, looking southeast. James John School Exterior Photos ENTRIX, 2009 First floor entrance Cafeteria Gymnasium Auditorium Conservatory in original nature study room James John School Interior Photos ENTRIX, 2009 1924- 1928, Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Map, Portland, Oregon, Map 330. Arrow points to the future location of James John School. Updated to 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Map, Portland, Oregon, Map 330. Arrow points to James John School. Note vacating of the street, school location change, and removal of older school building. James John School 7439 N Charleston Ave, Portland OR, 97203 Building Periods 1. Original Building ( 166A), 1929 2. Building ( 166B), 1943/ 44 3. Addition ( 166A), 1956 4. Building ( 166C), 1978 Aerial photo © 2009 Metro, Portland OR Imagery Date: July 12, 2007 N Leonard St N Kellogg St N Charleston Ave c. 1930 photograph of the James John School, looking northwest. View Site in Google Maps Historical Significance and Building Integrity Contrib: High Significance Contrib: Moderate Signif. Non- Contributing 0’ 50’ 100’ 200’ N sandy Blvd Lombard st powell Blvd 82nd ave MLK jr b lvd 1 2 3 4