Notes from the Archives: Sad Stories

by Nancy Noble, MHS archivist/cataloger

Some collections tell a sad story. Coll. 2622 is one of those: Blueprints and papers about the Morton House in the Union Station area of Portland. The house, located at 200-204 Valley Street, was built in the 1890s.

By 1948 it was a boarding house, owned by Clarence E. Morton, who named “The Morton House.” Later it was owned by Gordon Andrews and named Hotel Andrews. The house was damaged by fire in 1985 (later found to be arson), and left vacant for 9 years, where it suffered from more vandalism. Finally, in 1994 the Portland City Council ordered the 38-apartment house to be demolished.

Morton House blueprint of fire escape

Ironically, much of the collection consists of blueprints and drawings (and correspondence) regarding a fire escape, which was added in 1948. Other items in the collection include photographs, newspaper clippings, boarding house rules, etc. – all of which tell the story of a building, which while not a grand old dame of Portland, still has a history worth preserving.

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