Mizpah Presbyterian Church


Orlin G. McWain (American Architect)

Mizpah Presbyterian Church


2456-2462 SE Tamarack Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Gothic Revival


Samuel Baker, Medieval Portland Capstone Student, 2020

While now repurposed, this Southeast Portland building was constructed by the Mizpah Presbyterian Congregation in 1891, with its basilican plan attributed to architect Orlin G. McWain. The Carpenter Gothic structure was eventually moved in 1911, with the original wood frame structure placed atop a cement basement foundation; then in 1924, additional classrooms and meeting rooms were added to the main church at the east end of the nave.[1] Until 1961, the building continued functioning as a Mizpah Presbyterian Church and community center, from 1961-1978, being rented to several other short-lived organizations. On February 21, 1978, Arthur Lind purchased the structure, neglected but still intact. Rehabilitation began and the building retained all significant architectural elements as it was transformed into a multi-residence space.[2]

However, throughout the church’s ever-changing history, the most pivotal moment of its life has to be when it was relocated in 1911, making it an addition to Ladd’s Addition. The neighborhood Ladd’s Addition, started by William S. Ladd, was a residential community plan and real estate development implemented in Portland in 1891. Ladd’s Addition was the first attempt of this sort in Portland and one of the most successful plans of its kind on the West Coast that was put into action.[3] The wood-frame structure of the Mizpah Presbyterian Church fit the predominant style of the neighborhood, prospering as time progressed.  Ladd’s plan went against the gridlock often seen in Portland by following a diagonal street system circumnavigating a park at its heart.

The church has a distinct Gothic Revival, including the castellated bell tower, high gabled roof, and stained glass windows.[4] The principal facade contains the most prominent of the church’s stained glass windows, nearly piercing the high gabled roof.[5] This window shows the church’s Carpenter Gothic style pulling from medieval Gothic influence often associated with dramatic elements. Here the stained glass windows draw your eyes upward as you admire the principal facade.[6] 


[1] John M. Tess, “Nomination Form,” ( National Register of Historic Places, 1983), 2-3.
[2] Tess, “Nomination Form,” 7-8.
[3] Tess, “Nomination Form,” 6-7.
[4] Edna Donell, “A.J. Davis and the Gothic Revival,” (1936), 22-23.
[5] Tess, “Nomination Form,” 2-4.
[6]  Elizabeth Neal, “Calvary Presbyterian Church/The Old Church,” (2013)


Donnell, Edna. "A. J. Davis and the Gothic Revival." Metropolitan Museum Studies 5, no. 2 (1936): 183-233. Accessed April 21, 2020. doi:10.2307/1522810.

Drury, Clifford M. "Some Aspects of Presbyterian History in Oregon." Oregon Historical Quarterly 55, no. 2 (1954): 145-59. Accessed April 23, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/20612140.

Lindley, Phillip. "'Carpenter's Gothic' and Gothic Carpentry: Contrasting Attitudes to the Restoration of the Octagon and Removals of the Choir at Ely Cathedral." Architectural History 30 (1987): 83-112. Accessed April 22, 2020. doi:10.2307/1568516.

Neal, Elizabeth, et al. “Calvary Presbyterian Church/The Old Church.” Medieval Portland Walking Map, 13 May 2013. Accessed April 19, 2020. medievalportlandmap.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/calvary-presbyterian-churchthe-old-church/.

Spencer-Hartle, Brandon. "Oregon Places: An Expensive Stable: The Value in Saving Portland's Ladd Carriage House." Oregon Historical Quarterly 110, no. 3 (2009): 440-61. Accessed May 17, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/20615988.

Tess, John M. “Nomination Form.” National Register of Historic Places, Mizpah Presbyterian Church of East Portland, 9 Apr. 1983. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/83002174_text. 

“2456 SE Tamarack Ave - Portland, OR: Apartment Finder.” ApartmentFinder.com, 5 June 2020, www.apartmentfinder.com/Oregon/Portland-Apartments/2456-Se-Tamarack-Ave-Apartments-gbw4knz.