The Architectural Heritage Center has announced an important update on a project that will help honor and protect the culturally significant yet vulnerable structures of Portland’s African-American community from demolition. 

A draft of the National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation (MPD) form for African-American resources in Portland is now complete. Over the next few months the MPD will be reviewed at the local, state and national levels. The draft is available for public review and comments are being accepted.

The MPD was produced through a partnership between the Architectural Heritage Center and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS). 

By definition, a MPD is a National Register of Historic Places umbrella document that groups together historic resources associated with a significant historic context so that individual property owners can more easily list their property in the National Register. 

This particular MPD is a comprehensive architectural and cultural study of the African American community in Portland from 1865 to 1973 and the buildings that were part of this community, including houses, churches, fraternal lodges and more. 

Accompanying the MPD, and also under review, is a National Register nomination for Billy Webb Elks Lodge (Williams Avenue YWCA), a gathering space for various African American social, political, educational and civil rights groups from 1926 to 1973. The MPD record will also include photographs of select African American properties commissioned from Portland artist Intisar Abioto.

The 100+ page MPD draft is made possible thanks to the hard work of a team of people over the past three years. In 2017, the Bosco-Milligan Foundation/Architectural Heritage Center was selected through a request for proposals process by BPS to partner on the MPD. 

The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission will make a formal recommendation to the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation February 28. The State Committee will then make a formal recommendation to the National Park Service to accept the MPD.

Written testimony can be submitted to the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office through Tuesday, February 18. Public oral testimony will be accepted at the Friday, February 28 meeting.

More information at visitahc.org.