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About the AHC
AHC Main
Ankeny & Watson Building, c. 1892
Ankeny & Watson Building Ankeny & Watson Building Detail
Ankeny & Watson Building

Built 1886, Demolished 1942
Front Avenue between Ash & Ankeny

Architect: William Piper

Portland pioneer Alexander Ankeny’s building introduced a cast iron pattern for completely free-standing Corinthian columns, topped by a round arch with a keystone. The Florentine Renaissance flavor was captured in its detailing and simplicity by architect William Piper, who was born in New Hampshire and came to Portland from the Idaho mining area. This cast iron column system founds its way into abundant use on other Front and First Avenue buildings, providing the city’s first area of architectural unity in its commercial center.

Pennsylvania-born Captain Ankeny came to Oregon in 1850, leaving to work in the Idaho mines and returning in 1860 with sufficient capital to launch a steamboat business on the Columbia River. He was successful enough to move into real estate development and he followed his Ankeny & Watson Building with the grand New Market Theater Building. He moved on to Southern Oregon mining work in the 1880s – selling this building to E. B. Watson - and died in Salem in 1891.

As the 1940s opened, Portland was moving full throttle into unchallenged “progress,” and the large scale destruction of the city’s early buildings began in earnest. The Ankeny & Watson Building fell with others along Front Avenue for riverfront “improvements.”

First photo c. 1892, others c. 1940



Related Items
New Market Theater Also built by Capt. Ankeny: New Market Theater Keystone from Ankeny & Watson Building Keystone from Ankeny & Watson Building Front Looking South from Vine, 1886 Front Looking South from Vine, 1886