620 N Fremont St Portland OR 97227
Facebook: Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School
Source: Oregon Historic Site Form (10/14/2009)
Humboldt School merged with Boise-Eliot School in 2012.
Built in 1926, Boise-Eliot Elementary School was constructed during a period of progressive era growth
that responded to changing city demographics and ideas concerning safety, sanitation, and child centered instruction (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 with new residential development (Cubberley 1915: 283-285, 288-290). Boise-Eliot, originally named Ruben P. Boise Grammar School, was constructed to replace the Thompson and Shaver school structures (Oregonian 6-4-1927). Portland Public Schools (PPS) District Architect, George Jones, designed Boise-Eliot School. George Jones was one of the most influential district architects. Jones along with Floyd Naramore designed a large majority of the schools built between 1908 and 1932. Beginning in 1908 with the emergence of the Bureau of Properties, PPS district architects took on a more formalized role in the design and maintenance of school facilities. The Bureau of Properties was created by PPS to centralize management of the district’s properties (Powers and Corning 1937: 182).
For the Boise-Eliot School, George Jones adopted the building program and principles that dominated the discourse for school design during the first half of the twentieth century. After several well-publicized school fires in U.S. cities, calls for a more fundamental change in the building construction began as early as 1906 (Oregonian 10-31-1906). Many of Portland’s new fire proof buildings, such as Boise-Eliot, were constructed of brick and concrete. The school is similar in plan to the two-story U-shaped schools that were constructed with a lateral corridor connected to the frontentrance by one or more short hallways. Like other PPS buildings constructed during this period, Boise-Eliot contained more differentiated and increasingly specialized space (Powers andCorning 1937: 182). The school included rooms for Home Economics, Art, Science, Nature Study, Music, Geography and Manual Training, as well as boy’s and girl’s gymnasiums and an auditorium (PPS Building Plans 1928). Contractor H.E. Doering was retained to construct the school for approximately $290,000 using Oregon building materials (Oregonian 6-4-1927). A ceremony held for the laying of the cornerstone was reported on in the June 4th, 1927 edition of the Morning Oregonian.
Boise-Eliot School was constructed in the Classical Revival style popular for educational buildings during the first half of the twentieth-century. This style, characterized by symmetry and classical details such as cornices, pilasters, columns, quoins, and round-arch or square multi-paned windows, is well suited to portray the civic stature of schools of this period. Architectural revivals such as Classical Revival, Colonial Revival, and Collegiate Gothic were viewed as inspirational and appropriate for educational settings (Betelle 1919:28; Sibley 1923:66; Patton 1967:1-8).
While Boise-Eliot Elementary School is a notable historic resource, it does not retain a level of historical integrity commensurate with other Portland schools constructed during the same period; therefore, it is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). While the Classical Revival style is clearly discernable on the building, alterations have diminished the building’s integrity of materials, design, and feeling. These alterations include the reconfiguration of the auditorium, hallways, and administrative offices, as well as the removal o f the original windows, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, lighting fixtures, doors, and classroom built-ins.
The Boise-Eliot/Humboldt PTA
Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary School is a close-knit, diverse, and energetic community of students, families, teachers, staff and community volunteers, committed to creating a rich and positive learning environment for students, while nurturing connections between our school and neighborhood communities.
Explore our site to learn more about upcoming PTA events and ways to support our school community.
Please feel free to contact us via email any time. We look forward to your participation in enriching our community!
History of our Building
Boise-Eliot Elementary School is located in the Boise neighborhood of north Portland at 620 NE Fremont Street. The neighborhood consists of a mix of single family residences, multi-story apartments, and commercial buildings built primarily between 1910 and 1950 (Sanborn Map 1924-1928; Sanborn Map 1908-Dec. 1950). The Boise-Eliot campus occupies one-and-one-half city blocks and part of a right-of-way. The school is located on the north end of the campus, with play areas and open space on the south end of the campus, and parking is provided on the west end of the campus. A covered play shed (1980) and a concrete block storage building (1990) are located to the south of the primary building.
The 1926 Boise-Eliot Elementary School has a U-shaped plan. The primary entrances flank the central projecting bay that serves as the media center. A parallel bay that houses the gymnasium is located at the rear of the school. Rectangular classrooms and administrative offices comprise the other spaces located along the U-shaped corridor.
The two-story Classical Revival building is constructed of reinforced concrete with brick veneer arranged in a running bond pattern. The building features a series of flat roofs with stone coping along the parapet. The brick walls are interrupted by a series of projecting horizontal elements that include cast-stone cornices, belt-courses, and concrete water tables. Bands of single hung vinyl sash windows provide the fenestration. The building rests on a poured concrete foundation. The most important expression of the building’s Classical Revival style lies on the north (front) elevation of the building. To emphasize the importance of the primary (north) elevation, a projecting central bay features five multi-pane wood sash windows that are framed in cast-stone. Above the windows are stone panels with garlands and a large panel that bears the school’s name. Front entrances are located on bays that project out further from the central bay; the entrance bays are marked by quoins and panels with decorative and inspirational quotations.
Entrances are accentuated by columns, full entablatures, and transoms. Above the cornice of the entablature is a decorative scroll and double hung wood sash window that is framed in cast stone. A decorative panel with inspirational quotation and balustrade completes the top of the entrance bays. While less ornate, the east and west (side) entrances are similar in design and ornamentation to the front entrances. Side entrances are located on two-story bays and accentuated by pilasters and simple entablatures that bear the school’s name. Above the cornice of the entablature are double hung wood sash windows. A decorative panel with two branches tied together with ribbon completes the top of the side entrance bays. Entrances at the rear of the building are marked by stone surrounds.
Other significant character defining features include bay windows; one window is located on the east (side) elevation and the other is located on the west (side) elevation. The bays feature stone coping at the parapet and decorative panels with a side profile of a child. The side elevations also feature decorative brickwork along the east (front) ends. The principal entrances located along the north (front) and east and west (side) elevations open into stairwells that are illuminated by the windows that cap the entry doors. The corridors and classrooms have not retained their original wood trim; however, wood molding along the staircase walls and wooden staircase handrails are largely intact. Ceilings throughout the building have been reconstructed with drop panels and recessed fluorescent light fixtures. Wood doors with center or rectangular side windows provide access to the classrooms. Flooring consists of concrete, linoleum tiles, and carpeting. The classrooms feature a rectangular plan with a recessed area that provides closet space. None of the classrooms retain their original built-ins. Classroom windows line the exterior walls and retain their wood surrounds. The building is heated by boilers located in the basement. Classrooms and other spaces are heated through grates located beneath windows.
Boise-Eliot/Humboldt PTA STEAM School
A PreK-8 school with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math