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The Cardinal Times

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New Lincoln will be the latest in a long line of school buildings

Courtesy Portland Archives
Built as Portland High School, this building at Southwest 14th and Morrison Street was renamed Lincoln and held classes until 1909. This picture was taken in 1902.

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With the passage of the May school bond, Lincoln students are looking to the future of the school.

Many find themselves imagining what a new building may look like when it is completed in about four years. However, many students don’t realize that Lincoln already has been rebuilt or relocated three times times since the early 1900s.

Going back even further, to the days before any Portland high school was actually named Lincoln, other much older buildings served as temporary homes for Portland’s high school students.

The history of Lincoln goes back much further than any of those years — only a few years after the Civil War.

In 1869, demand for a school grew, and it was from that need that the Portland high school was born. The first in the long line of “high schools” during the city’s frontier days was in the North School, which was located in what is now the Pearl District.  

The  building housed students until the year 1873 when high school was moved to the top floors of Central School, which was located where Pioneer Courthouse Square now stands.

In 1878, the school moved again to Park School, which stood on land now occupied by the Portland Art Museum.

Finally, in 1885, the first school that would eventually bear the Lincoln name was built. Designed by William Stokes, it was the city’s first dedicated high school and was located at what is now Southwest 14th and Morrison.

Originally called Portland High School, this building would later be renamed Lincoln as other high schools were built and would house students until 1909 when the school once again was moved, this time to a site on what is now the Portland State University campus.   

Unlike its predecessors, which were later torn down in favor of future developments, that version of Lincoln still stands and is now called Lincoln Hall.

In this new school building, Lincoln grew from roughly 500 to 1,500 students from 1909 to 1935.

The four-story building housed Lincoln students until it was sold off to the Vanport Extension Center, which later became Portland State University. The building would be replaced by a newer Lincoln, which would be built with money from a $25 million building levy granted to the school district following the baby boom. Construction on a new school began in June of 1950 and it was finished in 1952.

 The new building is the one most of today’s students know as their Lincoln High School. Built on what was once called the Kamm Estate, it l has stood proud since 1953 as the most recent in the long line of Lincoln High Schools.

However, after the passing of the May ballot measure, this will change again and the school students now stand in will become nothing more than a distant memory, as is the case with its predecessors.

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