Pigeon Press (Portland, Oregon)
For years, Northwest Academy students have walked passed the empty and forgotten Morris Marks house, a once beautiful structure that now stands dark, empty and forgotten, surrounded by tall apartment buildings on either side, near the school.
The abode, located at 1134 SW 12th Ave., has become a part of Northwest Academy culture. It can be found in countless drawings, paintings and photographs of art students.
“It’s what all the beginning photography students take pictures of,” Georgia Bonds-Abele, a senior, said. “Because they think it’s so pretty.”
Built in 1880 for a wealthy shoe merchant, the Morris Marks house is a beautiful and classic example of the ornate Italianate architecture that once filled downtown Portland.
Located across from the art studio, Sean Cain, art teacher, has used the house in the past for assignments.
“I had students draw it because it is so detailed,” he said. “One thing that’s cool from an art teacher’s perspective is that it was built in a different time with different aesthetic values.”
A few years back, Nathan Lucas, digital media teacher, took a class inside.
“People were most fascinated by the basement,” he said. “There was this huge octopus looking thing with pipes going on in several different directions.”
Different classes have created various rumors about the true function of the house.
“I heard it was a front for the Russian mob,” Revan Williams, alumni and staff member, said. “Like a safe-house or refuge.”
Current students have different stories.
“I’ve heard it’s where Mary [Folberg] really goes when she says she’s in Peru.” Isabel Downes-LeGuin, a senior, said.
Regardless, it is appreciated by both faculty and students alike as a permanent part of our school community.
“I love the house,” Heidi Kirkpatrick, photography teacher, said. “I wish someone would come and restore it.”
Efforts ran by Clem Ogilby, a local historical house enthusiast, have long been underway to restore the house but sufficient funding has not been achieved.
“[Ogilby] wanted us to take photos of the house to do a photo show to promote fundraising for the house to restore and move it,” Lucas said.
Now in a state of disrepair for lack of restoration, the building holds a special spot in Northwest Academy history.
(Additional reporting by Aden Qamar)
Photo Credit: Pigeon Press