History


January 1, 1854

First Presbyterian Church of Portland, Oregon is organized. It is the third Presbyterian Church to be organized in the Oregon Territory. The first semi-permanent quarters are in Canton House. The church is served by the Reverend John L. Yantis until the middle part of 1855.

1855 – 1859

The church worships without regular pastoral leadership until the fall of 1859 when the Board of Domestic Missions of the Old School Presbyterian Church responds to their request and sends the Reverend P. S. Caffrey to Portland in 1850.

1864

The church relocates to Third and Morrison Streets.

The sanctuary boasts a pipe organ built in New York and brought around the Horn in the 1840s to a church in San Francisco before coming to Portland.

This organ still stands today in the Chapel of the current church and is occasionally played.

The city of Portland expands its boundaries, and the church explores relocating.

1888

The congregation moves into the first building of its new facility at the corner of Twelfth and Alder Streets.

Senator Henry W. Corbett, a member of the congregation, speaks at the laying of the cornerstone.


1890

The sanctuary is completed in which the congregation worships today. The balcony is added in 1892 to accommodate the growing congregation as well as the first meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church west of the Rocky Mountains.

First Presbyterian Church had a hand in the development of over 20 other Presbyterian congregations in the Portland area. Under the leadership of its first installed pastor, Dr. Aaron L. Lindsley, the congregation was involved in mission work with the Nez Perce Indians in Idaho and was instrumental in beginning Presbyterian mission work in Alaska.

1896

The congregation sponsors the Men’s Resort, a ministry to men in need of food, housing, and jobs.

1940

The congregation assumes full responsibility for Friendly House, a settlement house program which continues today offering a wide variety of services to individuals and families in NW Portland. In the 1950s, Friendly House became a community-wide supported work, and continues to enjoy strong support from the congregation.

1950

First Presbyterian Church purchases the summer estate of former Oregon Governor Julius Meier.

The site consists of 75 acres including several structures on a bluff in the scenic Columbia River Gorge 30 miles from downtown Portland.

Since then, First Presbyerian Church has acquired 25 additional acres, constructed new buildings, and acquired adjacent properties that now encompass the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center. “Menucha” (Men-oo-ka) is a Hebrew word meaning “ever-changing stillness.”

For nearly 70 years this has been a valuable ministry of First Presbyterian Church, serving not only our church groups but also other churches, civic, and nonprofit groups from across the Pacific Northwest.


1987

A group of members of First Church purchase the Danmoore Hotel, located adjacent to the church property.

These members create the Twelfth Avenue Investment Corporation and donate the stock in the corporation to the church.

1988

The church opens the doors of the Julia West House (named in memory of Julia West Lindsley, wife of the first installed pastor).

Early 1990s

A number of church members are instrumental in planning and building the Alder House on church property. Up until now, the Danmoore has been offered to Central City Concern rent-free for use as housing for low-income and addicted persons.

The Alder House is designed to provide replacement housing for residents of the Danmoore when the hotel is planned for further development by the church.

2001

The Jubilee campaign raises funds for the construction of a three-level underground parking facility and a surface-level plaza.

Ten percent of all monies pledged for the campaign are earmarked for mission causes.

Current residents of the Danmoore are relocated to a new facility developed by Central City Concern and Portland Development Commission.

2006

The new garage and the plaza are dedicated on March 19, 2006.​

2019

The Church begins work to transition Julia West House site to host a new affordable housing development.




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First Presbyterian Church
1200 SW Alder Street
Portland, Oregon 97205

Tel: (503) 228-7331