The MPD plan was led by City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Architectural Heritage Foundation, and Black community advisors. Oregon Black Pioneers Board Member Kimberly Moreland, who also serves on the Board of Architectural Heritage Foundation, was instrumental in conducting the research to identify landmark structures for documentation. The draft MPD form was submitted for approval in January after over two years of planning and work by the group.
Included with the announcement of the MPD approval was the accepted nomination of the Billy Webb Elks Lodge building, which was an important social gathering space for Black Portlanders for decades during the height of segregation. While there are more than 600 Portland places listed in the National Register, the Billy Webb Elks Lodge represents only the fourth listed for its association with African American history. The approved Portland African American Community MPD formally establishes the Black experience as a significant part of Portland’s history, creating a pathway for many more local African American historic properties to be listed individually on the NRHP.
“The NPS announcement is great news for us at Oregon Black Pioneers and for advocates of African American historic preservation everywhere” says OBP Executive Director Zachary Stocks. “The amazing team of local researchers (including our Board member Kimberly Moreland) and staff from Oregon State Parks and City of Portland have created a pathway for greater recognition of the landmark structures within Portland’s African American community. We are thrilled that the eligibility criteria established by the new African American Historic Resources of Portland MPD has already paved the way for the individual designation of the Billy Webb Elks Lodge. We look forward to seeing more properties with African American historical significance listed on the National Register thanks to the hard work of this group”.
Oregon Parks and Recreation received a $30,000 grant to identify and nominate sites within this MPD to the NRHP as part of NPS’ Underrepresented Community Grants program. Listing in the NRHP provides historic properties with protections against demolition and modification as well as make them eligible for grants and other incentives.
Oregon Black Pioneers was founded in 1993. Its mission is to research, recognize, and commemorate the culture and heritage of African Americans in the State of Oregon. Its vision is to be the premier resource for information about Oregon’s African American culture and heritage. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Billy Webb Elks Lodge. Photo courtesy of Portland Observer.