Plat: Industrial Addition Replat, Block: F, Lot: Portion
Architect: Hollis Johnson
Contractor: J. G. Watts
The building at 220 South Dawson St originally was constructed between 1948 and 1949. It is a good example of early Pacific Northwest International Modernism, as applied to a building designed for industrial purposes. Architect Hollis Johnston of Portland, Oregon designed it as a “Warehouse, Office and Storage Garage,” for the Truck and Coach Division of General Motors. The J. G. Watts Construction Company was the contractor. The permit also indicates that at the time of construction, the Union Pacific Railroad actually owned the property. The lower streamlined wing was originally designed for offices, while the back or north portion of the bigger wing was designed for truck storage. During the early 1950s, General Electric took over the building.
During the mid-1980s, General Electric made interior changes to the back part of the building, while the front portion remained office space. By 2007, McKinstry owned the building. The company remodeled the northeastern corner of it, which is mostly not visible to the public.
Architect Hollis Johnston was as architectural graduate of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. Later well known in Portland in his own right, he began his architectural career working in several well-known Portland firms, including Lawrence and Holford. By 1930, he was working on his own. He designed many schools and public buildings. During the Depression, he worked as chief consulting architect for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Bonneville Dam Project. He also designed many buildings, including housing, in the town of Bonneville, Oregon, much of which is gone. He founded the firm of Stanton and Johnston and during the 1950s, a partnership with architect Robert J. Koch. He is known for many works – some designed in historical styles, while later works are clearly Modernist. Historical examples include the Portland Town Club, built in 1931, (Johnson, Wallwork and Johnston), the Watson/Eastman House of 1928, both on the National Register of Historic Places, while the Lincoln High School of 1951 is a Modernist complex, located at 1600 Salmon Street in Portland.
Jim Hays, “Bygone Bonneville,”The Oregonian, January 16, 2010, www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2010/01/bygone_bonneville.html, accessed April 18, 2010.
Kimberly DeMuth, “Lincoln High School, 1600 Salmon St, Portland, Multnomah County,” Oregon Historic Site Form, October 14, 2009.