Historic Kenton Firehouse
Serving Portland since 1913
The Historic Kenton Firehouse is a community-building asset in North Portland that offers rental space for private parties, weddings, and other events. It also hosts public community events and meetings as well as the North Portland Tool Library and the offices of North Portland Neighborhood Services.
This historical landmark has served as a community center since 1977.
Prior to its life as a community center, it was a working firehouse, originally the home of horse drawn fire carriages! Several generations of fire crews served North Portland from this firehouse until it was shuttered in 1959.
Following its retirement as an active firehouse, the building fell into disrepair through neglect. This once stately landmark, boarded up and crumbling, became a rallying point for urban renewal. Neighbors from throughout North Portland organized to save and restore the firehouse in a new incarnation. With sweat and persistence community members labored many hours and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to create the Historic Kenton Firehouse community center, a place that has now hosted hundreds of weddings, quincineras, birthday celebrations, and memorials, along with thousands of meetings and classes that have helped build community in North Portland.
The Kenton Firehouse was dedicated in 1913. It was the first city designed fire station in North Portland, and one of the first in the city of Portland. The firehouse was built through a joint venture between the city of Portland and Swift Packing Company. The land was donated by the Kenwood Development Corp, and the construction was paid for by the city.
In 1959 the city abandoned the Kenton Firehouse. The firehouse became a store house used for police cars and stolen property for the next 17 years. During this time the firehouse was not maintained. Windows were boarded up, paint was to left blister, and loose bricks fell from the structure. Residents of the neighborhood wanted either something done with it, or for the place to be torn down.
A decision was made to try restoring the building as a community center. Volunteers from the North Portland Citizens Committee began by obtaining historical landmark status for the building in order to receive federal funds. In 1976 they succeeded and the Kenton Firehouse was designated as a historical landmark.
In May 1977, after receiving funds, the restoration project started. Since that time many grants have been written and received and many projects completed to maintain and enhance this historic property.