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Sabin School (Portland, Oregon)

Alternative Title
  • R. L. Sabin Elementary School (Portland, Oregon)
Creator Display
  • George Howell Jones (architect, 1887-1950)
  • 1928
  • 2008
  • This image is included in Building Oregon: Architecture of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, a digital collection which provides documentation about the architectural heritage of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Oregon Historic Site Form. Prepared by Iris Eschen.
View Date
  • 2009
  • 1920-1929
  • 2000-2009
  • Oregon Historic Site Form Sabin School 4013 18th Ave Portland, Multnomah County block nbr: lot nbr: tax lot nbr: township: range: section: 1/ 4: LOCATION AND PROPERTY NAME elig. evaluation: not eligible/ non- contributing primary orig use: School secondary orig use: primary style: Mediterranean Revival secondary style: primary siding: Standard Brick secondary siding: plan type: School ( General) Portland historic name: Sabin School primary constr date: 1928 secondary date: 2008 height (# stories): 3 total # ineligible resources: 5 ( optional-- use for major addns) current/ other names: R. L. Sabin Elementary School ( c.) ( c.) orig use comments: prim style comments: sec style comments: location descr: assoc addresses: vcnty address: ( remote sites) siding comments: PROPERTY CHARACTERISTICS farmstead/ cluster name: zip: total # eligible resources: apprx. addrs resource type: Building NR status: RLS survey date: 6/ 19/ 2009 external site #: 279 ( ID# used in city/ agency database) survey project name or other grouping name comments/ notes: HRI Rank II. ILS survey date: 6/ 19/ 2009 Gen File date: SHPO INFO FOR THIS PROPERTY NR date listed: GROUPINGS / ASSOCIATIONS Optional Information 4013 NE 18th Ave Multnomah County ( former addresses, intersections, etc.) architect: Jones, George H. builder: NR date listed: ( indiv listed only; see Grouping for hist dist) 106 Project( s) PPS Historic Building Assessment 2009 Survey & Inventory Project Entry facing east Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 1 of 4 Oregon Historic Site Form Sabin School 4013 18th Ave Portland, Multnomah County ARCHITECTURAL / PROPERTY DESCRIPTION ( Include expanded description of the building/ property, setting, significant landscape features, outbuildings, and alterations) HISTORY ( Chronological, descriptive history of the property from its construction through at least the historic period [ preferably to the present]) Description Summary Situated in the Sabin neighborhood of northeast Portland, Sabin Elementary School is located at 4013 NE 18th Avenue. The 3.64- acre campus consists of a primary school building ( 279A), three portables ( 279 B, C, D), and a covered play structure ( 279E). The reinforced concrete structure, faced with red brick, rests on a poured concrete foundation. Red pantiles cover the hipped roof. Designed in the Mediterranean Revival style, cast stone belt course, quoins, and cartouches divide the building horizontally and embellish significant architectural spaces. Fenestration consists primarily of grouped, metal frame windows and some original multi- light wood frame windows. Description Situated in the Sabin neighborhood of northeast Portland, Sabin Elementary School is located at 4013 NE 18th Avenue. Development in the surrounding neighborhood consists primarily of single family residence built between 1900- 1950 ( Sanborn Maps 1924- 1928; 1908- 1950). The 3.64 acre campus consists of a primary school building, three portables, and a covered play structure. The north and south portions of the campus are utilized for play areas. The reinforced concrete structure, faced with red brick, rests on a poured concrete foundation. Fenestration consists primarily of grouped, metal frame windows and some original multi- light wood frame windows. Red pantiles cover the hipped roof. Designed with modest Mediterranean Revival style elements, the building features cast stone embellishments including a belt course, quoins, and cartouches. Additional cast stone Mediterranean Revival Style detailing distinguishes the primary entry on the east elevation. The articulated arched entry doors are capped by a white stucco panel below a scalloped gable roof. The interior of the building is divided into three bays accessed by double loaded corridors. The library, auditorium, and the majority of the classrooms occupy the central bay. The gymnasium and kitchen are located in a bay that projects to the south. Additional classrooms and administrative offices occupy the north bay. Flooring consists of a mixture of 6” x 6” tiles, 12” x 12” tiles, carpet, hardwood, and concrete. Tubular fluorescent light fixtures are suspended from the acoustic tile covered ceiling. The building retains some of its original woodwork including base moldings, window surrounds, handrails, and classroom built- ins. The majority of the classrooms are rectangular. Built- in cabinetry lines the wall facing the windows. Univents provide heat for the classrooms. Alterations The original school building, constructed in 1928, was a rectangular plan oriented around a U- shaped double loaded corridor. Two small bays projected slightly from the north and south elevations. In 1952 the north and south bays were expanded. Portable classrooms were added in 1965. Many of the classrooms have since been remodeled, subdivided, and converted to new uses. Other alterations include the addition of sprinklers ( 1987), window replacements ( 1987), and skylight replacement ( 1988) ( Portland Facility Profile). The building retains some of its original woodwork including base moldings, window surrounds, handrails, and classroom built- ins. Due to the many alterations, Sabin Elementary School retains little integrity. The addition on north side of the building dramatically altered the original plan. This addition and later remodels to the interior spaces on the 2nd story have resulted in confusing circulation and interior spaces that show little relationship to the original plan. Although some Mediterranean Revival Style cast stone detail remains on the east elevation it is overwhelmed by the extensive alterations on all of the elevations, particularly the addition on the north side of the building. Statement of Significance Constructed in 1928, Sabin Elementary 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 ( Rippa, 1997: passim; Cremin 1961: 135- 153; Cubberley 1915: 283- 290). By 1905, it became increasingly clear that dramatic increases in school- age children outstripped the district’s existing classroom capacity and existing schools could not effectively serve areas of the city where new residential development was occurring ( Cubberley 1915: 283- 285, 288- 290). 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 ( Powers and Corning 1937: 183). 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 1908, Portland Public Schools created the Bureau of Properties in an effort to centralize the management of the district’s various properties ( Powers and Corning 1937: 182). 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 Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 2 of 4 Oregon Historic Site Form Sabin School 4013 18th Ave Portland, Multnomah County RESEARCH INFORMATION Title Records Sanborn Maps Obituaries City Directories Census Records Biographical Sources Newspapers Building Permits Property Tax Records SHPO Files State Archives State Library Local Histories Interviews Historic Photographs Local Library: Multnomah County Library University Library: Portland State University Library Historical Society: Oregon Historical Society Other Repository: PPS Archives ( Check all of the basic sources consulted and cite specific important sources) schools between 1908 and 1932. These new school buildings were often constructed of brick and concrete and were one or two stories in height. 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) ( Powers and Corning 1937: 182). The buildings also contained more differentiated and increasingly specialized instructional spaces such as libraries, gymnasiums, science rooms, music rooms, as well as assembly spaces ( Powers and Corning 1937: 182). 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 ( Betelle 1919: 28; Sibley 1923: 66; Patton 1967: 1- 8). The architect of Sabin School, George Jones, was well versed in the design of school facilities through his role as Superintendent of Building for the district. The son of Thomas J. Jones, who had also served as district architect for many years, George Jones was born in Portland in 1887. After attending Oregon State College for two years, George Jones obtained a degree in architecture in 1913. Jones worked in New York for several years before serving with the U. S. Army Combat Engineers during World War I. Following his return to Portland in 1920, Jones obtained his architecture license. He quickly assumed the position of school architect after his predecessor Floyd A. Naramore became district architect for the Seattle School District. In his role as district architect, George Jones designed about 25 new schools and supervised the construction of additions for many existing buildings. Following his tenure with Portland Public Schools, Jones went into private practice in Portland. With architect Harold Marsh, he established the firm of Jones & Marsh. Throughout his career Jones continued to specialize in school design, with projects in Pendleton, Klamath Falls and Oregon City. The firm of Jones & Marsh also designed additions to Roosevelt High School in Portland, buildings at Concordia Academy, and the Engineering wing and coliseum at Oregon State College in Corvallis ( Ritz 2003: 217). In 1909 the Portland School district acquired land at 4013 NE 18th Street for $ 10,820.05. The parcel included Lots 1 through 4, 7, 8, and 9- 14 of Denon Place. On this site, the district began operation of a school in 4 portables. In 1920, the site was given the formal name of R. L. Sabin ( Portland Chronology Binder). In 1923, the district began plans for a new building for the school, announcing that it would demolish the existing portables and construct a new fireproof building for an estimated cost of $ 120,000. Although the community agreed with the assessment of the Oregonian staff that a “ makeshift structure is unfitted to schools needs, and is an injustice to the children who are forced to attend it”, this decision was not without controversy ( Oregonian 06- 08- 1923). The community questioned the cost and decision to proceed with the construction of the full school rather than simply build an initial unit that could be expanded as the neighborhood experienced growth. Despite the controversy, plans proceeded for the project when the district acquired additional land in the Irvington Heights Addition for $ 8,000.00 in 1923. In 1924, Shaver Street was vacated to make room for a new school building ( Portland Chronology Binder). Construction on the new building was complete by 1927, although the dedication and ceremonial placement of the cornerstone did not occur until 1928 ( Portland Chronology Binder; Oregonian 06- 02- 1928). The new building opened for use on September 04, 1928 along with Portsmouth School and the new Girls’ Polytechnic facility. Constructed for $ 250,000, the building featured ten home rooms, a library, gymnasium, auditorium, playcourts, and specialized rooms for manual training and home economics ( Oregonian 08- 19- 1928). The old building, once situated to the south, was subsequently demolished ( Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, updated to 1950). Controversy surrounding Sabin school arose again in 1940 when the board closed the school and recommended transferring Edison Vocational School to the building. The board cited the need to better utilize the building’s 700 student capacity when enrollment had dropped to fewer than 370 pupils ( Oregonian 10- 11- 1940). The board nonetheless proceeded with its plan whereby the Sabin building was utilized as a specialized training facility for boys until 1947. In 1947, the board announced the decision to return Sabin to use as an elementary school based upon the need to alleviate over crowding at nearby Irvington, Alameda, Vernon, and Highland Schools. The decision was also part of an overall effort to focus resources on comprehensive schools and eliminate facilities targeted to specialized groups ( Oregonian 04- 10- 1947). Although designed by George Jones during his tenure as Superintendent of Building for Portland Public Schools and one of the few schools built in Portland during the Great Depression, Sabin Elementary School does not retain a level of historical significance and integrity commensurate with other Portland Elementary Schools constructed of similar styles during the same period and is therefore not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. While the Mediterranean style is modestly expressed on the building, the expression of the cast stone is not as sophisticated as that on other buildings erected in the same style designed by Jones. Additionally, the removal of windows, additions, and interior modifications that have blurred the original corridor plan and altered significant interior space have resulted in overall loss of integrity of design, workmanship, and feeling to Sabin Elementary School. Due to the loss of integrity, Sabin Elementary School is not eligible under either NRHP Criteria A, B, or C. Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 3 of 4 Oregon Historic Site Form Sabin School 4013 18th Ave Portland, Multnomah County Bibliography: Bibliography Betelle, James O. “ Architectural Styles as Applied to School Buildings.” American School Board Journal. Vol. 58 ( April 1919). Cremin, Lawrence. The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876- 1957. New York: A. Knopt, 1961. Cubberley, Ellwood Patterson. The Portland Survey: A Textbook on City School Administration Based on a Concrete Study. Yonkers-on- Hudson, NY: World Book Co., 1915. Oregonian. “ School doomed by School Board – No. 10.” 06- 08- 1923. Oregonian. “ New School is started.” 06- 02- 1928. Oregonian. “ Three new schools ready for opening.” 08- 19- 1928. Oregonian. “ Court Upholds Board Right on Sabin.” 10- 11- 1940 Oregonian. “ Board votes to convert 2 schools.” 04- 10- 1947. Oregonian. “ Change Favored in School Buildings.” 3- 31- 1914. Oregonian. “ Mayor Lane and the Schools.” 10- 31- 1906. Oregonian. “ School Buildings are Called Unfit.” 7- 31- 1910. Portland Public Schools. Schools Chronology Binder. Powers, Alfred and Howard McKinley Corning, History of Education in Portland. [ Portland]: Work Projects Administration, 1937. Rippa, Alexander. Education in a Free Society: An American History. New York: Longman, 1997. Ritz, Richard. E. Architects of Oregon. A Biographical Dictionary of Architects Deceased – 19th and 20th Centuries. Portland: Lair Hill Publishing, 2003. Sanborn Map Company 1924- 1928, 1908- Dec. 1950 Sanborn Maps, Multnomah County Public Library, Portland, Oregon. Available at: https:// catalog. multcolib. org/ validate? url= http% 3A% 2F% 2F0- sanborn. umi. com. catalog. multcolib. org% 3A80% 2F. Accessed June 16, 2009. Sibley, Ernest. “ Why I Prefer the Colonial Style.” School Board Journal: Vol. 66 ( January 1923). Snyder, Eugene E. Portland Names and Neighborhoods. Their Historic Origins. Portland: Binforrd & Mort Publishing; 1st edition 1979. Printed on: 10/ 14/ 2009 Page 4 of 4 North elevation facing south South elevation Entry facing east Portable facing northwest Sabin School Exterior Photos ENTRIX, 2009 South elevation Auditorium facing northeast Classroom built- in Corridor facing west Gymnasium facing west Staircase and handrail Sabin School Interior Photos ENTRIX, 2009 1924- 1928, Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Map, Portland, Oregon, Map 581. Arrow points to future location of the Sabin School. 1924- 1928, Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Map, Portland, Oregon, Map 838. Arrow points to old Sabin School located on a block to the south of the current school. Updated to 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Map, Portland, Oregon, Map 581. Arrow points to Sabin High School. Sabin School 4013 NE 18th Ave, Portland OR, 97212 Building Periods 1. Original Building ( 279A), 1927 2. Addition ( 279A), 1950 3. Addition ( 279A), 1952 4. Addition ( 279B, C), 1965 5. Addition ( 279E), 1970 6. Addition ( 279D) Aerial photo © 2009 Metro, Portland OR Imagery Date: July 12, 2007 2009 photograph of Sabin entry. NE 18th Ave NE Alameda St NE 17th Ave View Site in Google Maps Historical Significance and Building Integrity Contrib: High Significance Contrib: Moderate Signif. Non- Contributing 0’ 50’ 100’ 200’ N sandy Blvd Lombard st powell Blvd 82nd ave MLK jr b lvd 1 2 5 6 3 4 4
Work Type
Street Address
  • 4013 NE 18th Avenue
GPS Latitude
  • 45.552099
GPS Longitude
  • -122.647358
  • OR_Multnomah_Portland_Sabin.pdf
  • University of Oregon Libraries
  • PPS Historic Building Assessment 2009
Submission Date
  • 05/04/2015
  • 08/03/2022


Building Oregon, University of Oregon. (08 Jun 2023). Sabin School (Portland, Oregon) Retrieved from


Building Oregon, University of Oregon. "Sabin School (Portland, Oregon)" Oregon Digital. 08 Jun 2023.


Building Oregon, University of Oregon. "Sabin School (Portland, Oregon)" Oregon Digital. Accessed 2023-06-08.


{{cite web | url= | title= Sabin School (Portland, Oregon) |author= |accessdate= 2023-06-08 |publisher= }}
Data Sources
Footer Number Term External URI
1 Jones, George H.
2 Architecture, American
3 Architecture--United States
4 built works
5 architectural drawings (visual works)
6 views (visual works)
7 architecture (object genre)
8 exterior views
9 public schools (buildings)
10 floor plans (orthographic projections)
11 plans (orthographic projections)
12 Oregon >> United States
13 United States
14 Multnomah County >> Oregon >> United States
15 Portland >> Clackamas/Multnomah/Washington Counties >> Oregon >> United States
16 In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted
17 Image
18 University of Oregon

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