Two Portland landmarks, Erv Lind Field and Crystal Hotel, added to National Register of Historic Places for LGBTQ+ historical significance

Press Release
Successful listing effort led by Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability with support from Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Oregon’s congressional delegation, led by Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
Published

Portland, Ore.—Portlanders have more to celebrate this Pride Month 2024. The National Park Service announced the listing of two new LGBTQ+ sites on the National Register of Historic Places: Erv Lind Field and McMenamins’ Crystal Hotel (historically Hotel Alma). These listings mark Oregon’s second and third LGBTQ+ National Register designations, following the 2020 designation of the Darcelle XV. With approximately thirty sites nationwide listed in the National Register for LGBTQ+ history, Portland now proudly hosts 10% of these significant designations.

Recognizing the city’s lack of LGBTQ+ history on the National Register, the City of Portland launched the LGBTQ+ Historic Sites Project in 2022. This initiative, funded by the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office, prioritized nominating the Crystal Hotel and Erv Lind Field for their significance to diverse LGBTQ+ communities. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) led the successful efforts to secure these historic designations with the immense support and leadership of Commissioner Carmen Rubio and members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation, particularly Congressman Earl Blumenauer who co-chairs the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus.

“Portland's lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities have a long and complex history that must be preserved for future generations,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “While community historians and scholars have documented this history for many years, the LGBTQ+ Historic Sites Project marks our City's first initiative to recognize and protect LGBTQ+ historic sites.”

“For decades, I’ve fought to make Portland America’s most livable city. Protecting our historic places is central to this effort,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “The designation of Erv Lind Field and Crystal Hotel to the National Register of Historic Places builds on our endeavor to preserve LGBTQ+ landmarks in Portland—a project started with the successful designation of Darcelle XV as the first LGBTQ+ venue in Portland. It is fitting we add two more landmarks this Pride Month, giving us that much more to celebrate.”

“Enshrining Erv Lind Field and Crystal Hotel as National Historic sites recognizes the significance these two locations have within Oregon’s LGBTQ+ community,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. “I applaud these new classifications, and will continue working to uplift LGBTQ+ history and culture here in Oregon and across the nation.”

“As we work together to build a more equal and just society for our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors in Oregon and across our country, we need to celebrate the work of queer activists and allies who came before us,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, author of the Equality Act. “Adding Erv Lind Field and Crystal Hotel to the National Register of Historic Places is an important step in protecting the history of our LGBTQ+ community in Oregon. Their boundary-breaking work to make Oregon more inclusive in the face of intense prejudice will fortify us in the work to come.”

“Portland has a thriving and vibrant LGBTQ+ community and I’m thrilled to see that their history will be honored by designating Erv Lind Field and Crystal Hotel to the National Register of Historic Places,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Both of these landmarks were important gathering places for LGBTQ+ Portlanders at a time when they faced widespread persecution and discrimination. Oregonians and Portlanders can take pride in the ongoing work and advocacy that help to make our city and state inclusive and welcome to all—no matter who they are or who they love.”

Erv Lind Field

Single-story red brick building with 3 doors, plus second level lookout tower
Erv Lind Stadium

Erv Lind Field, located in Normandale Park in Portland’s Rose City Park neighborhood, was constructed by the Portland Parks Department (now Portland Parks and Recreation) specifically for the 1948 national softball championship tournament. This field is notable for being the first and only sports facility in Oregon to be constructed primarily for a women’s major-league team of any sport. Home to the national women’s championship team Erv Lind Florists between 1948 and 1964, the field also served as one of the earliest and longest lasting gathering spaces associated with LGBTQ+ Portlanders, diversifying available public spaces during the period referred to as the “Lavender Scare,” when intense anti-LGBTQ+ measures attempted to shut down known LGBTQ+ venues and purge LGBTQ+ employees from civil servant positions. As noted in the National Register nomination, “The achievements of the Erv Lind Florists brought a certain level of pride and star power that was unmatched by another Oregon team.”

“Players and enthusiasts have long known Erv Lind, Dotty Moore Pennant Shop, and all those teams made a place for which Portland stands,” said Fern Wilgus, former softball player on Dottie Moore Pennant Shop’s team and longtime supporter of the nomination. “All can be proud of Portland’s women’s softball history.”

Crystal Hotel

Corner of 4-story building wiht restaurant on ground level and 3 levels above, with many windows
McMenamin's Crystal Hotel

The existing National Register nomination for the historic Hotel Alma, now McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel, was amended to include the building’s LGBTQ+ associations between 1969 and 1985 as an additional basis for its historic significance. The existing nomination briefly noted the building’s multiple LGBTQ+ franchises and connection to the area south of W Burnside, referred to as the “Burnside Triangle,” but did not establish LGBTQ+ history as an area of importance. Now, 15 years after the building’s initial listing in the National Register, the amendment establishes Hotel Alma’s significance as a mixed-use building with multiple LGBTQ+ businesses, such as the Majestic Hotel and Club Baths, which fostered a uniquely welcoming atmosphere in the area during a time when LGBTQ+ Portlanders were “typically shunned or even could be actively persecuted in most spheres of life,” as described in the nomination.

“This is a sentimental moment, not only for this history project, but for our entire Portland community,” said Jason Damron, LGBTQ+ Historic Sites Project advisor and Pacific University Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Sociology and Gender Studies. “For places and spaces like the former Majestic Hotel and Club Baths, we should revel in the diverse ways queer people found each other while facing seemingly insurmountable ignorance and prejudice.”

Preserving Diverse Histories

“LGBTQ+ Portlanders have long been involved in preservation,” said Cayla McGrail, the Associate Project Manager for the LGBTQ+ Historic Sites Project. “As a queer preservationist, these listings carry special meaning in pushing the bounds of the National Register of Historic Places to include histories that have been long excluded from official recognition. Portland has now proven to be a leader in advancing the emergent work of celebrating LGBTQ+ history.”

The success of Erv Lind Field’s new nomination and Hotel Alma’s nomination amendment sets examples for future nominations to the National Historic Register in Portland and across the county for recognizing diverse social histories. Both National Register nominations were prepared by Kristen Minor of Minor Planning & Design, with extensive input from Don Horn, Jason Damron, Fern Wilgus, and other Portlanders with lived and professional experience with LGBTQ+ history.

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, a sustainable food system, digital equity and community technology; and policy and actions to address climate change.

Contact

Magan Reed

Communications Manager, Planning and Sustainability

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