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Legendary Portland Drag Club Darcelle XV Could Be Added to the National Register of Historic Places

It’s the first time the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation has nominated a site specifically for its place in LGBTQ+ history.

On the last day of Pride month, Congressman Earl Blumenauer has joined a push to add Darcelle XV to the National Register of Historic Places.

Founded in 1967, two years before the Stonewall riots kick-started the modern gay rights movement, Darcelle XV is Portland's oldest drag club, and home to the longest-running drag show on the West Coast.

Adding to the Old Town venue's historical significance is the fact that it's operated by Walter Cole, otherwise known as drag legend Darcelle, who was dubbed the World's Oldest Drag Queen in 2016 by Guinness World Records. Before quarantine, 89-year-old Cole was still performing at his club multiple nights a week.

Last week, the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation unanimously agreed to nominate Darcelle XV for the national register. It's the first time the committee has nominated a site specifically for its place in LGBTQ+ history.

Today, Blumenauer wrote to the U.S. Department of the Interior to bump the state committees' nomination.

"Walter Cole persevered through discrimination during the 1970s and kept the club active for over 50 years," Blumenauer wrote. "In line with NRHP criteria, Darcelle XV should be memorialized for its historical role in using entertainment to impact a cultural shift in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights."

Placement on the national register protects sites from development and qualifies business owners for tax provisions and federal preservation grants.

The National Park Service will announce which sites are added to the register in November.

Related: Seven Queer Black Portlanders Speak Out on What Pride Means to Them This Year.