History of the Building
The Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center has been a fixture in Northwest Portland since it was opened in 1911 as a Christian Science Church. Th›e building housed church activities until 1978 when the building was acquired by the neighborhood and became the Northwest Service Center. The building bustled with outreach organizations such as Loaves and Fishes, Gray Panthers, and Neighbors West/Northwest. At times, fifteen public benefit programs and organizations utilized the building to hold activities and deliver their services to the community.
The building’s new life as a community service center strengthened the character and livability of the neighborhood by providing a space for meetings, workshops, and performances. The large auditorium was used by local, regional, and national performing arts groups.
By 1992 the NNCC was struggling to keep its doors open after losing its primary tenant, but in 1993 the Northwest Children’s Theater and School made the NNCC its home. In 2009, the NWCTS began leasing the entire building from which it continues to operate today.
When built, the building was the first Christian Science Church west of the Rocky Mountains. The stately Classical Revival design was that of S.S. Beman, and it was distinguished by the colonnade and majestic domed roof crowning the building. It once housed a 1906 Hook &;Hastings pipe organ with over 2,000 pipes. The dome and skylights overlook an 11,000 square foot auditorium which to this day is filled with enough pews to seat 1000 people. This Northwest gem is currently a landmark on the National Historic Register.
(Information graciously given by Dr. Tanya Lyn March of Slabtown Tours)