I’m partial to Portland’s White Stag Block only partly because it is now home to my alma mater, University of Oregon, including the historic preservation graduate program. Among other attributes, the White Stag Block holds up the iconic White Stag sign, which is, itself, listed as part of the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District.
The White Stag Block is stunning today, thanks to a recent renovation (catch a glimpse of it before the renovation here–the first floor bricked-in facade is dismal!). The White Stag Block is one of a small group of buildings that is both on the National Register of Historic Places and LEED-certified (though don’t forget–the greenest building is always the building already built).
Three separate buildings make up the White Stag Block: the Bickel Block, the Skidmore Block, and the White Stag/Hirsch-Weiss Building. These buildings have been merged on the interior to create one cohesive building. The namesake White Stag building was built in 1907 and housed White Stag Manufacturing. Max and Leopold Hirsch, brothers, and Harry Weis used the building as manufacturing space for the Willamette Tent and Awning Company. They branched out into apparel for lumber and mill workers and, in the 1930s, began making ski apparel under the name White Stag Sporting Goods. “White Stag” came from the translation of the names “Weis” and “Hirsch.”
Today, if you walk past the White Stag Block, you can’t help but notice it. The red columns on the east facade and colored paint invite you to cross the street and give it a closer look. Next time you spot the White Stag sign from across the Willamette on I-5 (perhaps with its Rudolph nose?), I hope you’ll think about the building that’s holding it up.
Sources and further reading:
Don’t miss this great history of the White Stag Manufacturing.
Read more about the renovation at the University of Oregon renovation page.