Washington High School officially closed in 1981, but its school spirit remains today for this historic site was once Portland’s premier high school in the 1930s to 50s.
A community celebration will be held July 15 in the school auditorium, now known at Revolution Hall. Doors open at 5 pm with a program beginning at 7 pm.
The renovated high school at 1300 SE Stark St. is where alumni and friends will reminisce and honor veterans, teachers and distinguished classmates.
Musical entertainment will be performed by alums from the 60s, 70s and 80s in the restored auditorium. Mel Brown, WaHi alum from the class of 1964 will be there as part of the entertainment.
A raffle will be held plus a silent auction to benefit Brown’s Summer Jazz Workshop and proceeds provide scholarships for aspiring young musicians.
After 35 years, WaHi has been completely restored with its original architecture intact including the hallway lockers.
Venerable Properties and PacTrust combined forces to create an office environment and converted classrooms are leased to various offices. New Seasons grocers’ corporate headquarters is located on the top floor.
Revolution Hall is the music venue created by the owners of Mississippi Studios and located in the school’s central auditorium. Two bars adorn the hall; one for events and the other, Martha’s, is open to the public. A new roof deck provides unparalleled city views.
“When the school closed, the alumni community died, and maybe the area too,” states John Linn, another graduate from the class of 1981.
Now these alumni are excited about the renovation. “I was part of the last graduating class when both the building and area were in decline,” Schlatter says. He believes, “the building renovation represents the transformation that has occurred with the entire inner southeast area.”
As a commercial real estate advisor for over 20 years, he is pleased by the renovation. He mentions that the project received local real estate awards for development and renovation.
“Moreover, as an alum, I am proud of its redevelopment and proud to be part of its history in Portland.”
Notable alums from the school include former governor, Vic Atiyeh, and civic leader, Bill Naito. A more recent alumnae is local leader Diane Linn, former Multnomah County commissioner.
John Linn, a musician himself, believes “the music department literally saved lives and inspired students to believe in themselves.” He is bassist for local band, Soul Vaccination.
The WaHi auto shop program helped students to finish school including Schlatter who would not have graduated without it.
“Mr. Kingham was an inspiration for many of us to pursue varied careers in business and industry,” asserts Schlatter.
1978 grad, Chuck Preistley, won regional awards with engine competitions and now owns a business serving drag race tracks nationally. Another auto shop student, Tommy Tamiyasu, runs a small business that installs office furniture for local companies and employs numerous people.
Another 80’s alum, Ed Menashe, is vice president for Kobos Coffee. There are countless other graduates who went into successful careers in business, education, social work, and other fields.
Of the many thousands who studied at Washington High School during its 100+ year history, included are students who moved to other area high schools when the building closed in 1981.
“We consider all students who attended even one year to be alums and hope they will all come to the celebration,” states Schlatter.
The event is open to everyone to celebrate a special part of Portland’s history.
“There is an older generation that has been gathering each year for an annual picnic at Oaks Park,” says Schlatter. “This year we are excited to announce a celebration at the high school complete with a live music by WaHi alums.”
For more information see revolutionhallpdx.com/event/1115217-washington-high-school-portland