The Auditorium and Music Hall located on Southwest 3rd Avenue is one of the last Romanesque Revival style buildings that remains in Portland. It was designed and built by Frederick Manson White in the late 1890s. The Auditorium and Music Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in February 1980.
The Old Auditorium Building was one of the most popular
music halls in the downtown waterfront area from the late 19th
century onwards. The building was first designed, constructed and owned by F.
Manson White. White arrived to the USA from Derby, England, in 1875. He studied
at Cornell University, MIT and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He arrived in Portland in 1889, and first
worked as an architect at McCaw and Martin, with whom he helped design the
High-Victorian Gothic-style First Presbyterian Church, and the so-called
“Dekum” (he would later work on the Sherlock Building, the Men's Resort, the
Salvation Army Citadel, the Flat Iron Building, and possibly even the Plaza
White eventually chose to practice independently, and the Auditorium
was his first solo commission. The rectangular four-story building was designed
in the decorative Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style of Louis Sullivan,
which during the 1890s was extremely popular across the city, though he also
made use of Greco-Roman Classical elements. This building in particular
contains a startling variety of architectural characteristics. It features a
flat roof decorated with sculptural features, and an exuberant brick façade in
a running bond divided into three bays, which fronts the entrance into the
two-storied lobby decorated with a coved ceiling. The exterior walls are
embellished with carefully shaped bricks, high quality terra cotta plates,
ceramic and stone capitals carved into individual designs, and stone window
sills. The terra cotta spandrel panels and a frieze on the front of the
building display intricate vegetal motifs and Sullivanesque geometric patterns.
Inside, the concrete and brick masonry structure was fitted with timber columnns
During its lifetime the function of the building has changed
a number of times. In the 1890s the building was managed by Emil Jorgensen. The
ground floor and basement were occupied by a wholesale liquor business. One
floor up was a dance hall operated also managed by Jorgensen. On the third
floor was a concert hall, complete with a fourth story used as a balcony during
performances. This topmost floor was filled in and converted into apartments during
the early 1900s, and the dance hall was subsequently used as a dining hall for
the tenants. A floor was extended across the entrance lobby, masking the coved
ceiling from view. Between the 1920s and 1950s the dance hall experienced a
revitalised period of use as a boxing gym. Following a fire that closed the
upstairs accommodation, the building was used as a pub and an adult book store.
Today only four examples of this architectural style remain
in the city (the others being the Dekum, the Sherlock Building, and the Plaza
Hotel). The Auditorium Building is very well preserved, with the dance hall and
façade remaining almost unchanged from its genesis.