Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



The transition from being a Parks facility to being a neighborhood-operated one is complete

DAVID F. ASHTON - Making the buildings name change official, volunteer Bob Burkholder - a SMILE Board Member - put up the new Sellwood Community House sign over the front door. The preschool, and after-school, programs at the newly-renamed Sellwood Community House – formerly known as the Sellwood Community Center – did indeed start on September 3, but not in the building. Technical issues delayed the takeover of the century-old structure by the new nonprofit, established by SMILE, from Portland Parks and Recreation.

For that first week, preschool was held at the nearby SMILE Station; and the afterschool program took place at Sellwood Park, in and around the historic Pool House. The weather was good in the park that week, just before the autumn rains began.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Elizabeth Martin Akretch blasted away grime on the outside of the Community House with a pressure washer. "You might say the first week of September didn't go exactly as planned; we thought we'd have access over the (Labor Day) holiday weekend, but Portland Parks determined that their contract with the union for the building extended through Wednesday, September 4," said Friends of Sellwood Community House Gail Hoffnagle. "And also, we learned that PP&R could not execute the lease until our new nonprofit running the Community House had obtained a City of Portland business license."

The snag with the business license, she said, was that the wrong box on the license application had been ticked. "We learned that we had to 'uncheck' that box, walk it through the licensing office, and then start to change over the utilities billing," Hoffnagle told THE BEE.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Scrubbing the second floor hallway of the building on the cleanup weekend of September 7-8 were the father-and-son team of Mike Birenbaum and Charlie. The historic hundred-year-old building was abuzz with volunteer activity on the weekend of September 7 and 8, with some 35 people coming each day to clean, paint, move furniture – and put up the new sign over the front door.

"They've been working so hard," reflected Hoffnagle. "Every room has been scrubbed down from top to bottom; the deep cleaning has given it a lot of sparkle and spiff that it hasn't had for decades, and it even smells better!"

Several of the volunteers told THE BEE that a side benefit of coming to help was they'd been able to tour all parts of the building – from the attic to the basement – including places they've never seen there before.

"And now, we also have a new website, thanks to our I.T. person, Kevin Palmer, who has also helped us upgrade our computers and phone system," Hoffnagle smiled. "This grand house is coming back; we're on our way!" Other community programs formerly found in the Sellwood Community Center will begin starting back up in October. Get more details, and potentially sign up for a program, at that new website –

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