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Waldschmidt Hall (originally West Hall) is an academic building at the University of Portlandmarker in Portland, Oregonmarker, United States. Constructed in 1891 as West Hall, the building was originally part of the now defunct Portland University located in North Portland overlooking the Willamette River. The Romanesque style structure built of brick and stone stands five stories tall. The hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and renovated in 1992, the same year it took the current name. Waldschmidt, the oldest building on campus, now houses the school’s administration offices and some classrooms.

History

Members of the Methodist Episcopal church founded Portland University in 1891 in Portland and began raising funds to open the school. That year the university built a five story tall brick building at a cost of $32,500. Named West Hall when it opened, it first was used as a residence hall, the school’s chapel, and for classrooms, as it was the only building on campus. Portland University suffered financial problems and had to abandon the campus after defaulting on loans in 1896. The campus and West Hall then became the property of the prior owners.

In 1901, Archbishop Alexander Christie purchased the campus and building in a trade of two properties the church owned plus $1 in an effort to start a Catholic affiliated school. In September 1901, Christie opened Columbia University with West Hall as the sole building on campus. A student at the school apparently drowned in the Willamette in 1911 and is believed to haunt the building. The school changed its name to the University of Portland in 1935.

West Hall was designated a historic landmark by Portland in 1970, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 22, 1977. In 1990, the school embarked on a three renovation project of the structure to bring it up to code and prevent it from falling apart. Repairs included fixing sagging walls and floors, as well a retrofitting the building to meet modern seismic standards. The $5.5 million project utilized the original blueprints and old pictures to maintain the original look and feel of the building. Other work included making it accessible to the handicapped, replacing windows, and restoring the hardwood floors. Paid for in part by private donations, the project was completed in October 1993.
Sketch of the building in 1894
In October 1992, the University of Portland re-named the building as Waldschmidt Hall in honor of former school president Paul Waldschmidt. After renovations were completed in 1993, the hall housed the administrative offices of the university, including student services, and some classrooms. On May 1, 2001, the United States Postal Service dedicated a commemorative post card in honor of the university’s 100 anniversary that featured Waldschmidt Hall. Part of the Postal Services Historic Preservation series, the computer generated image of the building was created by John Pirman.

Details

Frederick Manson White, Richard H. Martin, Jr., and William F. McCaw served as the three original architects for the building. Romanesque in architectural style, he five story structure has stone, brick, and cast iron on the exterior. The hall was patterned after Harvard Universitymarker’s Sever Hallmarker and includes a wide, domed entrance. Measuring , Waldschmidt is the oldest building the University of Portland campus.

The interior of the building features walls paneled with cherry wood, oak flooring, a carpeted stairway, large windows, modern furnishings, and old photographs of the hall hung on some walls. As of 2009, Waldschmidt Hall houses the university’s administrative offices including admissions and the registrar, as well as some classrooms. Some of the red bricks outside of the top floor have initials carved into them by former students.

References

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