With the support of SE Uplift’s Small Community Grants Program, PSAA organized the painting of a new community mural at the corner of SE 30th & Belmont. This mural honors the rich history of the Sunnyside Neighborhood & Belmont District.
This 100-foot long mural was painted by emerging street artist Mado Hues, being their largest public art project to date. Each of the 10 panels represent significant pieces of Sunnyside history, such as its early rural and pioneer histories, its historic built environment, unique transportation history (being the first streetcar era neighborhood), iconic local landmarks, prominent businesses and places of worship, and its dynamic cultures of art and sustainability. This mural took 6 months to paint, including several days where the community came out to volunteer their time to make this mural happen.
EXPLORE THE MURAL + SUNNYSIDE HISTORY
This mural and digital history project provides a comprehensive online resource about Sunnyside and Belmont history. Combining research, photos, and archival materials, this interactive site allows you to explore the mural and history of the neighborhood. Just click on the mural panels below, hover your mouse over it, and click on the hyperlinks to discover countless tidbits of interesting history!
MURAL PAINTING PROCESS
PSAA conducted extenstive historical research to develop the content of this mural, including data collection at the Oregon Historical Society, the City of Portland Archives at PSU and Historic Resources and Preservation Department, the Bosco-Milligan Foundation at the Architectural Heritage Center, historians at Portland State University's Urban Studies and Planning Department, and various historical online databases. Working closely with PSAA researchers, a local artist developed concept sketches for the panels that embodied symbols of the Sunnyside neighborhood's past and present.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT + PUBLIC PAINTING DAYS
Volunteers assisted with many aspects of the project, including wall prep, community outreach, basecoat and architectural detail painting. PSAA successfully secured two interns from Reed College and PSU to assist with logistics and management. Volunteers connected with the project via print and social media, others heard about it from flyers posted in the neighborhood, word-of-mouth, the neighborhood newsletter, or just simply passing by and offering to lend a helping hand. Children as young as three, families, and local teens came out to help prep the mural wall. Elders came by to share their memories. One passerby even recalled their experiences as a child painting the original mural with Jennifer Joyce in 1996, pointing out exactly which piece she painted.
Perhaps the most impactful experience to come out of this project was interacting with the local houseless community. Leroy and Bill have been long-time residents of the streets of Sunnyside, often hanging out near Stumptown Coffee. They came to the mural painting almost daily to check on the progress, hang out, and chat with the team. Bill even added to the mural in his own way, adding eyeballs, manhole covers, and other odds and ends to the wall with a Sharpie marker at night. Bill has become an unofficial steward of the mural, vowing to "keep an eye on it." Leroy, Bill, and the late “Mayor of Belmont" (Ed) are depicted in the mural and we will forever appreciate their kindness, quirkiness, and contributions.
Jerry Bosco and Ben "Benny" Milligan saved and restored both the iconic Pied Cow and Thaddeus Fisher Victorian houses, which sit prominently at the corner of SE 33rd & Belmont. Ben & Jerry founded the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC), a significant preservation education facility for the Portland region that plays an important role in celebrating and advocating for the architectural heritage of our region.
In the early 1970s, when Interstate 405 was under construction, Ben & Jerry were alarmed by the tragic demolition of countless historic buildings throughout Portland. They would enter these buildings on the eve of their destruction to salvage priceless pieces of architectural heritage. From the 1950s–1980s, they collected a trove of ornate building elements, many of which were used in the restoration of the Pied Cow & Thaddeus Fisher. Dedicated to saving Portland's built history, Ben & Jerry worked hard to restore the original siding, repairing and replacing the shingle work, windows, doors, ceiling medallions, and woodwork. Much of this is now stored at the AHC. The National Park Service documents that the Bosco-Milligan Foundation’s collections are the largest in the West and among the five largest in the United States.
Ben & Jerry sadly passed away in the late 1980's, both falling victim to the AIDS virus. Friends and companions, Benny and Jerry spent their lives preserving Oregon's built history of the Victorian-era. In an Oregonian interview with Ben Milligan just before his passing in 1988, he explained, "We're not collectors so much as caretakers. You start out as collectors and then later on you are caretakers. It is not a matter of saving for the future, you are saving that period of time."
These local preservation legends are featured prominently in the mural, transporting historic artifacts and treasures they saved from the wrecking ball. The Sunnyside neighborhood would certainly not be what it is today without the help from this dedicated duo.
THE ORIGINAL BELMONT HISTORY MURAL
The original Belmont History Mural at this site was painted in 1996 by Jennifer Joyce, and restored in 2006, was faded and in disrepair. PSAA will be interviewing Jennifer to document the history of this mural making, so stay tuned!