WongsLaundry

Wong Laundry Building, Portland

Wong Laundry Building
Transom detail (photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History and Museum Foundation)

Transom detail
(photo courtesy Portland Chinatown
History and Museum Foundation)

Exterior view of the Wong Laundry Building (photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History and Museum Foundation)

Exterior Wong Laundry Building
(photo courtesy Portland Chinatown
History and Museum Foundation)

Girls in front of the window (photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History and Museum Foundation)

Girls in front of the window of Wong;s
(photo courtesy Portland Chinatown
History and Museum Foundation)

Working in the Laundry (photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History and Museum Foundation)

Working in the Laundry
(photo courtesy Portland Chinatown
History and Museum Foundation)

Wong Laundry Building on left (photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History<br /> and Museum Foundation)

Wong Laundry Building on left
(photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History and Museum Foundation)

View along 3rd Ave. (photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History <br /> and Museum Foundation)

View along 3rd Ave.
(photo courtesy Portland Chinatown History and Museum Foundation)

Statistics

  • Built: 1908
  • Address: 219 NW 3rd, Portland
  • Architect: Alexander Ewart
  • Designation: National Register of Historic Places

News and Updates

Fall 2016

Restore Oregon staff met with local constituent to discuss next steps of engagement

Summer 2016

Restore Oregon sent a letter to new owner to support a rehabilitation of the Wong Laundry

Spring 2016

New owners acquire Wong Laundry

Summer 2015

Plans are being developed to rehabilitate and repurpose the building as a cultural museum and multipurpose event space

November 5, 2014

Listed as a Most Endangered Place by Restore Oregon

History

1908 Wong Laundry Building is significant to Portland’s economic history and to the ethnic and immigration history of both city and state. Designed by Alexander C. Ewart, the two-story masonry structure combining retail on the ground floor and lodging above is a prime example of early 20th century commercial architecture built for the travelers, businessmen and workers pouring forth from the new Union Station. The building played a significant role in the evolution of both Portland’s New Chinatown and Nihonmachi, or Japantown.

The Wong Laundry Building was occupied before 1930 by a saloon and various retailers. In the early 1940s, the storefronts were converted into a Chinese hand laundry (parts of which are still intact), a radio repair shop, and living quarters for the widow of a Chinese medicine preparer, Mrs. Kai Young Wong, and her six children. Through extremely hard work and the help of several Wong uncles, Mrs. Wong was able to purchase the building in the early 1950s. A fire in 1970 caused by kerosene thrown through the exterior laundry chute, caused extensive water damage to the first floor and the laundry was closed. The building has been vacant since that time

Why it’s Endangered

For decades the Wong Laundry Building has been experiencing demolition by neglect attributable to a lack of access to capital for needed major restoration. The unreinforced masonry structure has been challenging for owners to maintain and is considered seismically unsafe. The building’s poor condition, low height, and location within a quickly developing part of Portland make it a candidate for demolition and redevelopment if a plan for preservation isn’t developed soon.

Near-term Goals

There is strong support from the Chinese and Japanese communities and the Old Town Chinatown Community Association for preserving and reusing the Wong Laundry Building. Because the buildings are prime candidates for the use of urban renewal dollars, Portland Development Commission support for planning and seismic upgrade will be sought in the months ahead. The property owners are struggling to maintain the building and are ready to sell to a preservation-oriented buyer. Developing an economically viable plan for the restoration of the building as a community resource such as a mixed-use multi-ethnic museum will be imperative to the survival of the building.

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