Darcelle XV Plaza (formerly known as O'Bryant Square) is closed indefinitely due to structural issues with the parking garage located below the park. More information on the park closure is provided by PBOT here.
By collaborating with partners, PP&R aims to restore Darcelle XV Plaza and create a dynamic public space that enriches the community and activates the downtown area.
Portland City Council unanimously voted to rename the downtown gathering space as Darcelle XV Plaza on July 13, 2023. The site, pronounced "Darcelle Fifteen Plaza", is supposedly near the clearing where W.C. Overton and Asa Lovejoy agreed to found a town in November 1843. Council resolution: www.portland.gov/council/docume…
This momentous decision pays tribute to the legendary drag performer and LGBTQ+ icon, Darcelle XV, while celebrating the vibrant LGBTQ+ history and culture that have shaped Portland.
Darcelle XV Plaza honors the remarkable legacy of Walter Cole, known by the stage name Darcelle XV. For over five decades, Darcelle XV enchanted audiences with dazzling performances, infectious energy, and a powerful message of acceptance and inclusivity.
"By renaming O'Bryant Square to Darcelle XV Plaza, we are embracing and celebrating the indelible contributions of Darcelle XV to our city's LGBTQ+ community," stated Commissioner Dan Ryan. "This renaming reflects our commitment to fostering a more inclusive city that recognizes the diversity and immense value of its residents."
Walter Cole, who established Darcelle XV in 1967, is an enduring symbol of strength and pride for the Portland LGBTQ+ community. As the world's oldest performing drag queen, Darcelle XV not only entertained countless audiences but also became an icon of resilience and authenticity.
"Renaming [the former] O'Bryant Square to Darcelle XV Plaza signifies the progress we have made as a city in embracing diversity and embracing LGBTQ+ history. May this plaza serve as a reminder of our shared journey towards inclusivity and acceptance", added Mayor Ted Wheeler.
The square itself was originally named for Hugh Donaldson O'Bryant, a pioneer who migrated to Oregon from Georgia in 1843. O'Bryant was a carpenter who showed his civic pride in 1850 when he founded Portland's first public library. He was elected as Portland's first mayor in the city's first election on April 7, 1851, by receiving 104 of the 222 votes cast.
In the early 1900s, the Rivoli Theater and the Basket Grocery were the two best-known features on the block. Built by Robert S. Farrell, business and political leader and one of the founders of the Multnomah Athletic Club, the Rivoli Theater was famous for its vaudeville acts. At the beginning of World War II, with stage acts a thing of the past, it was renamed the Newsreel Theater. The grocery was one of the finest gourmet delicatessens in Portland for 50 years before it was closed in 1969.
In 1971 the property was donated to the city by Mr. and Mrs. William E. Roberts. Built mostly of brick and concrete, the square was designed by Donald Edmundson and Evan Kennedy of the Portland firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall, and was dedicated in December 1973. O'Bryant Square's dominant feature is a bronze fountain in the shape of a rose, fittingly titled Fountain to a Rose. It was made possible through a $28,000 bequest from Donald Card Sloan, who was a prime minister of the Royal Rosarians in 1953. Its inscription reads "May you find peace in this garden." The fountain is surrounded by 250 rose bushes and other plants. Beneath the fountain's jets an underground parking garage accommodates 90 cars, making it the first park with parking in the city. In 1976, O'Bryant Square received a national design award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.