New spaces, old places: Blake McFall Building

A weekly look at adaptive reuse projects around Portland and beyond…

Also known as the Emmett Building in Portland’s Central Eastside, the five-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by McNaughton & Raymond of Portland and built in 1915, it was added to the register in 1990.

Under construction in 1915.

Under construction in 1915.

Here’s what the Oregonian had to say about it in its July 1915 issue:

The second floor, reached by a fireproof viaduct from Burnside street will contain the offices, salesmen’s quarters, rest rooms and space for sample display and the balance of the building will be given up to general paper storage. 

Total cost: $90,000.

If you’ve been in Portland for any amount of time, you’ll know this building better as the Towne Storage building. Up until a few years back, it was low-rent space for local artists. In 2016, it was retrofitted to include:

seismic strengthening, window sash replacement and refurbishment, brick and stone restoration, a new enhanced exterior entry and main lobby, restoration of the iconic steel water tower, and the addition of a new 8,750 SF Penthouse set-back on the roof with two exterior landscaped decks.

Pre-retrofit.  Source.

Pre-retrofit. Source.

Post retrofit. The water tower was kept intact.  Source.

Post retrofit. The water tower was kept intact. Source.