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November 10th, 2004 RICHARD SPEER | Special Section Stories
 

PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY

The Lovejoy Columns, urban landmark

     
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The Lovejoy Columns
IMAGE: RICHARD SPEER
Generations of Portlanders grew up counting the Lovejoy columns as one of the city's most unique attractions. In the late 1940s, artist and night watchman Tom Stefopoulos painted fanciful owls, landscapes bedecked with homespun aphorisms, and a full-length portrait of the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes on columns supporting the Lovejoy Ramp. The oil-on-concrete murals, with their endearing, perspectiveless style, were postcard favorites and seemed as much a part of the city's landscape as the Hawthorne Bridge.

In the late '90s, however, developer Homer Williams persuaded the city to tear down the Lovejoy Ramp to make room for the burgeoning Pearl District.

The ramp was demolished, but the columns were saved from the wrecking ball, thanks to an 11th-hour campaign by an insurgent band of architectural buffs named Rigga.

Attempts to restore the columns came and went during the following five years, with city, nonprofit and entrepreneurial camps alternately taking on, then shirking, the responsibility mounting the ramp arts.

Today, the columns lie sleeping in a storage yard at Northwest 14th Avenue and Savier Street, beneath the muffled din of the Fremont Bridge. Half-covered in blue tarps, their rusted steel girders sticking out of concrete like veins from a freshly amputated arm, they await the political momentum to rescue them from rot.

Sources tell WW that real-estate developer John Carroll might resurrect the columns for the plaza at his forthcoming Pearl District project, the Elizabeth Lofts. Carroll did not return phone calls, and former Rigga member James Harrison says he is "loath to bet on whether it will happen after all the different scenarios we've been through on this thing. These things can turn on a dime."


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Intro | Tonya's Mob: Tonya Harding, Jeff Gillooly & Shawn Eckardt | The Crusader: Gordon Shadburne | The Meteor: Billy Ray Bates | Satan's Pilgrim: Rex Diabolos Church | The Firebrand: Ron Herndon | The Bad Boy: Frank Peters | The Broken Halo: Michael Stoops | The Crack Mother: Anita Nichols | The Veejay: Kennedy | The Girl from Electra: Treva Throneberry | The Perfect Victim: Azalea Cooley | The Grappler: Dutch Savage | Wonder Boy: Pat Gillis | The Ex-Files: Marcia & Steve Moskowitz | The Witness: Dave Mazzella | The Prankster: Igor Vamos | The Intern: Monica Lewinsky | The Runaways: Diane Walden & Peter | Top Cop: Mark Kroeker | Sprawl Kitten: Kate Schiele | Authority Figure: Rocky Balada | The Hulk: Dry Dock 4 | The Candidate: Gail Shibley | The Super: Ben Canada | The Organ Grinder: Dr. William J. Brady | Pillars of the Community: The Lovejoy Columns | The Survivor: Giles Thompson | The Contender: Andy Minsker | Space Invader: The Phantom Dialer | The Red Menace: Ma Anand Sheela

 
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