We Oregonians are house-proud. We not only recognize architectural treasures but also set out to do whatever we can to preserve them. Case in point: Remember the cliffhanger cause célèbre about the Oregon Garden's Frank Lloyd Wright manse and how it was wrested from the hands of owners who would demolish it?
Sacre bleu! We almost lost one.
But while well-appointed preservationists are high-fiving each other for their good deeds done in the name of civic pride, it seems a couple of other monuments are about to take a wrecking ball to the chops. That's why I think we should issue our own regionwide "Endangered Spaces Act." That way we could protect buildings that not only have historical significance, but also add something to our cultural vistas. It may be too late for the following two very different spaces--but make a point to pay your respects, anyway.
Jen-Jen Safari Club
116 SE 4th Ave., Estacada, 630-3208.
Head way out Foster Road and you'll eventually find yourself in Estacada, a town known not only for its timber but also for being the home to one of the only nightclubs in the world devoted to dead animals. The extensive collection of trophies has been masterfully composed into lifelike, multibeast tableaux: two lions eviscerating an ibex, a family of wildcats taking down a couple of fat deer. The realistic agony of these scenes is undercut only slightly by the balding haunches and chipped claws on the animals. The game--all shot by the bar's original owner, Glen E. Park--dates back to the '60s and '70s. Sadly, the Safari's legend has paled since its heyday during the Johnson administration. Customers are few, and the building is up for sale. Besides the carcasses, the Safari has many cavalier, Cocktail Nation features--colorful yarn-and-resin light fixtures, dropped ceilings with decorative cutouts, a glitter stage curtain and glamorous signage. If you don't count the fact that the roof is collapsing, it could be the investment of a lifetime. As for those polar bears in the lobby--a clause in the sale agreement requires that the buyers leave the beasts in place or yield them to Park's heir. Come on, buy it.
Oregon National Guard Armory
128 NW 11th Ave., Brewery Blocks
Once housing local units of the Oregon National Guard (and serving as a beer cooler since the '60s), this 1889 brick-and-stone Romanesque Revival confection, built after the style of Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson, has all the shlocky grandeur of a giant white fish-tank castle.
Which, of course, would make the perfect theater.
The Portland Development Commission has put its muscle where its mouth is by drafting a complex financing proposal for Portland Center Stage's eventual ownership of the building, involving loans and fundraising totaling more than $21 million. The Armory, which hosted roller derbies and televised wrestling matches after the soldiers went civvy-style, is practically an empty shell. That means PCS could mold the space into two dream-theaters (a 500-seat and a 200-seat) without much internal demolition. Its designation as a National Historic Landmark protects the building facade from substantial alteration. It doesn't, unfortunately, protect it from the backhoe. Gerding/Edlen Development, the Armory's current owner, needs a tenant to complete rooftop restoration work on the building before it can allow people to move into an adjacent high-rise condo called "The Henry." On top of that, negotiations with an undisclosed retail tenant are also in the works. But rubble could be the Armory's fate if neither deal pans out by September --Gerding/Edlen filed for a demolition permit in May.
Save 40 percent on everything except denim. Yes, there is life after Blue Cult Butt-Lifter jeans.
Lit, 214 SW 8th Ave., 827-3300. Until July 31.
PDX Incubator Fundraiser
Sneak peeks of local designers' fall offerings and music by the Echo Jazz Collective.
The Blue Monk, 3341 SE Belmont St., 241-4004. 8 pm Sunday, July 27. $12 advance, $14 door. Proceeds to benefit Portland Fashion Week.