History of Roseway Heights
The new Gregory Heights School was part of the last wave of an extensive building program begun by Portland Public Schools in the early 1900s. Gradually influenced by John Dewey’s Progressive Education Movement, the program responded to changing city demographics and ideas concerning school safety, sanitation, and child centered instructional methods beginning in the first decade of the 1900s. By 1905, it became increasingly clear that dramatic increases in school-age children outstripped the district’s classroom capacity and existing schools could not effectively serve areas of the city with new residential development. After several well-publicized school fires elsewhere in the United States, calls for a more fundamental change in the building stock of the district began as early as 1906 when Mayor Lane called for the construction of new “fireproof” school buildings (Oregonian. 10-31-1906). In 1910, various city neighborhood “advancement clubs” joined forces to discuss the unfit school buildings in their respective neighborhoods (Oregonian 07-31-1910). Soon after this meeting, on August 16, 1910, the Portland City Council enacted a requirement that all schools constructed after January 1, 1911 would have to be of fire proof construction. By 1914, in the first joint meeting between Portland city officials, Multnomah County Commissioners, and the school board, officials agreed to work with building code officials to encourage the use of fireproof construction and to implement fire safety measures in all existing and future schools (Oregonian, 03-31-1914).
In 1911 Portland Public Schools acquired a site at 7334 NE Siskiyou Street for $3,500.00. The original school consisted of 2 portables until 1923 when the district acquired additional land in Glenhaven Park for $5,362.50. The first unit of the new school was built for $150,000.00 by the Stebinger Brothers (Oregonian, 09-27-1923). The cornerstone was laid in November of 1927 but the completion of the school was delayed due to a strike by the city’s bricklayers (Oregonian 11-04-1923).
In 1908, Portland Public Schools created the Bureau of Properties in an effort to centralize the management of the district’s various properties. Within this office, the District architect took on a more formalized role in the design and maintenance of school facilities. Two of the most influential district architects during this period included Floyd Naramore and George Jones who designed a majority of the schools between 1908 and 1932. Although Naramore and Jones designed the majority of the schools in the early twentieth century, the district employed several architects to design individual school buildings. The architect of Gregory Heights School, Richard Martin, was experienced in the design of buildings from nearly 30 years of practice in Oregon. In addition to designing several residences, Martin designed many significant buildings in Portland. Notable projects include West Hall at the University of Portland (1891), the Dekum Building (1892), the Armory (1891), and The Scottish Rite Temple (1902). Similar to Gregory Heights, these new school buildings were often constructed of brick and concrete and were one or two stories in height. The architectural details of the new schools were largely encompassed by the Classical Revival, Colonial Revival, and Collegiate Gothic styles; architectural revivals that were viewed as inspirational and appropriate for educational settings. To speed the construction of the new schools and to anticipate later growth in the neighborhood, these new buildings were often constructed in units sometimes referred to as extensible schools. Following the construction of the initial unit in 1923, Gregory Heights was expanded to include a gymnasium in 1925 and additional classrooms in 1929. More significant alterations to the building and campus occurred in the 1950s and again in 1983 when the building was renovated for use as a Middle School. In addition to creating a library by removing the walls between several classrooms, the school was reconfigured so that “seventh and eight graders are clustered around small group areas carved out of former hallways” (Oregonian 01-06-1983). The school's name was changed to Roseway Heights in 2007.
The two story school building rests on a poured concrete foundation. The primary construction system is reinforced concrete. Parapets located on the flat roof mask the skylights and mechanical systems. The school features a variety of architectural styles including Collegiate Gothic embellishments on the central bay of the east elevation, Mediterranean embellishments on the north and south bays of the east elevation, and a contemporary hybrid of the Mediterranean and Moderne styles on the west elevations.
The neighborhood consists primarily of single family residence built between 1920 and 1950. Oriented on a east-west axis, the school building is located at the northeast portion of a rectangular 8.60-acre parcel. Playgrounds and play fields occupy the south portion of the campus. Asphalt covered parking lots are located on the south and west sides of the campus. The primary entrance to the campus is from the north on Siskiyou Street. The path to the secondary entrance on the west elevation from the parking lot is flanked with columns. The rectangular two story school building rests on a poured concrete foundation. The primary construction system is reinforced concrete. Parapets located on the flat roof mask the skylights and mechanical systems. The primary window unit consists of grouped fixed frame metal windows. The school features a variety of architectural styles of the school including Collegiate Gothic style embellishments on the central bay of the east elevation, Mediterranean embellishments on the north and south bays of the east elevation, and a contemporary hybrid of the Mediterranean and Moderne styles on the west elevations. Three double doors provide entry to the central lobby flanked by office spaces. A series of double loaded corridors provides circulation throughout the building. The addition of partition walls and “bump-outs” altered the configuration of the corridors. Linoleum tiles cover the floors of the corridors. Fluorescent light fixtures are recessed within a drop ceiling that is covered by acoustic panels. Murals depicting the relationship between the city of Portland and its rivers decorate the corridors of the first floor. Funded by a grant program, the murals were designed by artist Wendy Dunder. Students and community members assisted the artist in painting the murals. The primary community spaces for the school include two gymnasiums and a multi-purpose room. The ceiling of the double height multi-purpose room is supported by wood beams. The room features a stage and a wood floor suitable for use as a gymnasium. The gymnasiums are located on the west side of the school. Wood beams support the flat roof of the double height spaces. Finishes include vinyl flooring and concrete walls. The classrooms are primarily rectangular. Many of the room walls have been angled or extended into the corridor to create a larger space. Most classrooms feature built-in cabinetry lining the wall facing the windows that primarily dates from the 1950s. Many classrooms retain original wood picture rails, base moldings, and window and door surrounds.
Designed to be extensible, the school building is comprised of a series of interconnected additions. The original portion of the school was built with reinforced concrete faced with red brick in 1923. A second unit, included in the original design, was added to the north in 1929. The additions to the school made in 1929 and thereafter were built using reinforced concrete with a coating of stucco. A 1958 addition added the small gym and industrial arts room to the west side of the school. In 1983, new wings were added to the north, east, and west sides of the school. At this time, extensive alterations were also made to corridors, the configuration of individual classroom spaces, and the interior finishes (Oregonian. 01-06-1983). Although the school was designed to be expanded, the later additions to the school rapidly moved away from the original Collegiate Gothic brick vocabulary. Extensive additions in the 1980s went well beyond the original plan, nearly doubling the original footprint of the school. Interior remodels have changed the circulation plan, corridor height, and interior finishes. Gregory Heights School retains handsome architectural embellishments on the east elevation but the overall integrity of the school is compromised.