portland studio


Today’s Walking Photos: I took a brisk walk in briefly un-rainy downtown Portland today, and from 10th Avenue I found myself startled by the exterior of a building I really hadn’t noticed before. This is the Studio Building, which was built in 1926 and was quite unique in its purpose – a nine-story building offering 128 rehearsal studios for musicians and actors. Adjoining it was a 450-seat recital hall intended as a performance space for the building’s tenants. That recital hall eventually became the Guild Theatre, the last single-screen movie theater in Portland and a spot where I watched many an art film over the years. [sigh] So I knew about the Guild (originally the Taylor Street Theatre), but somehow I’d never really been aware of the Studio Building.

Do click to see each image at full size, but instead of captioning them, here are my comments on each:

  1. This is the view that caught my eye from 10th. Something about that steep roof and those gabled windows, and those fussy details visible even from a distance.
  2. A detail view of the building’s faded signage lettering. Challenging to read because there were clearly two signs at two different times and they’ve sort of overlapped into each other, but I believe the original sign read:
    “Studio Building |  Artists  |  Musicians  |  Allied Arts”
  3. This is the window at the far end of the top floor. I find it a bit unsettling that it appears to be closed off by a mere sheet of fabric, or something? But I read that the building is in the process of being refurbished, so I hope this is just temporary and there’s no water damage occurring or anything like that.
  4. The entrance to the upper floors (the ground floor is occupied by a [pretty good] restaurant now). Look at all the gorgeous detailing here. And you can see the beginning of the motif that runs along both street-facing sides of the building – terra cotta busts of famous composers, with their names engraved above. I don’t know why Scarlatti and Debussy didn’t get busts…maybe they were too ugly?
  5. The Studio Building as seen from Taylor Street. Sorry about the big ol’ truck, but at least you can see the rest of the composers on this side, anyway. In case they’re hard to pick out, we’ve got Scarlatti, Debussy, Verdi, Brahms, Wagner, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bach, Chopin, Schubert and Mozart. Five more appear on the east side of the building facing 9th Avenue.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed my sudden fixation with a grand old building.


I’m Latino. I’m Hispanic. And they’re different, so I drew a comic to explain.

Terry Blas is a writer/cartoonist and creator of the web series Briar Hollow. He is a member of Portland, Oregon’s Periscope Studio, a powerhouse collective of more than two dozen award-winning creatives. Follow him on Twitter @terryblas and on Tumblr at terryblas.tumblr.com.