Congressman Asks Feds to Honor Three of Portland’s Black History Landmarks

The recognition would be especially sweet for Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, which is still operated by the descendants of its founders.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is asking federal officials to add three landmarks of Portland’s Black community to the National Registry of Historic Places.

“The Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Northeast Portland was the home of one of Oregon’s oldest Black congregations; Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop in Northeast Portland is the city’s oldest, continuously operating Black-owned business; and the Golden West Hotel in Northwest Portland was the first hotel in the city to accommodate Black patrons,” the congressman wrote in a Jan. 14 letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Blumenauer’s request comes on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it’s one step in an extensive nomination process overseen by Portland city officials. A listing on the registry will ensure additional protections against demolition.

“Far too often, spaces representing African American experiences are trivialized or overlooked entirely in efforts to preserve America’s historical landscape,” Zachary Stocks, executive director of the nonprofit Oregon Black Pioneers, said last August when Portland officials announced the nominations.

The recognition would be especially sweet for Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, which is still operated by the descendants of its founders, Benjamin and Mary Rose Dean, who started the parlor in 1956. It’s located in a tiny brick storefront on Northeast Hancock Street, near the center of what was once Portland’s primary Black neighborhood.

“The business survived waves of urban renewal and transportation development programs in the 1960s and 1970s,” the nomination form says, “even though many of their clients and neighboring Black-owned businesses in Lower Albina were displaced.”

Here are the the full nominations for all three places.