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Ladd Block
Ladd Block Ladd Block, 1930s Ladd Block 1962
Ladd Block

Built 1881, Demolished 1965
SW First Avenue & Columbia

Architect: Justus F. Krumbein

Vermont - born (1826) William S. Ladd came to Portland by way of the California Gold Rush, looking for broader entrepreneurial opportunities. A former teacher, he established a liquor importing business, relocating to Front Avenue in 1853 where he built Portland’s first brick building. Expanding into the grocery business, banking, iron & steel, and real estate holdings, he amassed substantial wealth. Elected Portland’s mayor at age 28 in 1854, he was known for extreme thriftiness and a keen financial sense. He died in 1893, leaving thousands of acres of property including tracts in Portland’s Laurelhurst, Eastmoreland, Westmoreland, Brooklyn, and Ladd’s Addition neighborhoods.

William Ladd commissioned architect Justus Krumbein to design his Ladd Block building in the Victorian Gothic Style. Krumbein, who was from Germany, learned the construction trade before moving into architecture. In 1871, he relocated from San Francisco to join relatives in Portland. His design for the three story, 100 foot façade was distinguished by two center bays at the entry, with balconies and arches above. Actually two separate buildings, the cornice featured embossed wolf heads and was topped by a masonry roof that matched, although the floor levels differed somewhat. Cast iron columns divided the first floor storefronts, and a cast iron parapet adorned the roof of the half-block building.

In the mid-1960s, the Portland Development Commission’s urban renewal plan for the area recommended that the Ladd Block be retained. The building’s owners who feared the demise of their plans for their Coffee Company Warehouse, chose a “midnight demolition” and the Ladd Block fell for a parking lot. The coffee company decided to move from downtown and the parking lot remained. The building’s ornamentation was salvaged by Ben Franklin Savings & Loan and in 1976 much of it was installed inside their new Ben Franklin plaza. It was later removed and donated to the Bosco-Milligan Foundation in 1989.

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