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New owner Amy Bennett poses in front of The Skanner building's door collage. (Photo/The Skanner)
Saundra Sorenson
Published: 16 May 2024

The two-story Skanner Building at Northeast Killingsworth has stood sentry in the Humboldt neighborhood since 1967. Its mid-century style of modern architecture evokes old-school newsrooms of yore, with the addition of solar panels that blend in to look like awning on the building’s front. (Those solar panels were hard-won, as Bernie Foster tells it, and took a direct appeal to then-Mayor Sam Adams for approval in 2008). The wood-paneled newsroom has hosted future governors and scores of candidates for public office, community leaders and civil rights luminaries. 

the skanner building new owners medNew owner Amy Bennett poses in front of The Skanner building's door collage. (Photo/The Skanner)The building will remain, and will live on as The Skanner Building. But the bustling newsroom and corridors will host a center for healing. 

“I’ve been in this neighborhood for 35 years – it’s always been The Skanner Building,” new owner Amy Bennett told The Skanner. “It’s part of Portland’s history, and trying to maintain some sort of connection with that – the building deserves it.”

Making Space

Most media outlets have become leaner as the industry has made its often rocky transition from print to online presence. In 2014, for example, The Oregonian sold its historic former headquarters on Southwest Broadway for $14.5 million. With the increasing trend toward working from home or from location covering the news, office space has become increasingly  redundant. 

And so it was that the Fosters sold the 6,800-square-foot building in the heart of the Humboldt neighborhood last September, after basing The Skanner there for just shy of 30 years. Prior to the move-out, the building hosted an estate sale of sorts, with office furniture and other effects up for grabs.

The new owner will not raze the building, but instead take advantage of the multi-tenant commercial property’s unique layout. 

“I stand by the idea that the cheapest house or building is the one that’s already built,” Bennett said.

“I very much appreciate the quirkiness and the charm of The Skanner Building specifically.” 

Bennett is a licensed massage therapist and structural integration practitioner, as well as an educator. She knows that many in her line of work rent office space that tends to be isolated from people in similar fields. 

“It can be difficult for people who are in solo practice to find appropriate spaces for their practice,” Bennett said. “I’ve always worked in spaces that were kind of collectives, but I know a number of practitioners that are just sort of parked with folks that are not necessarily in the same line of work or the same realm of work, and I think that can be a little odd.”

She had dreamed of opening this kind of business for more than a decade.

“I’ve always thought that it’s important to figure out how to support people that are doing this work, and having a safe, kind, clean, friendly space for people to have their small business,” Bennett said. “I have this image that it’s a place for people to land with their business. I want a nice place to work, so I’m going to work there and I think that other people really value having stable, nice spaces to be with their businesses and their clients.” 

She already has a number of tenants signed up for when the building is ready for them, likely in July, she said. So far, The Skanner Building healing collective includes acupuncturists, massage therapists, one talk therapist and Bennett herself. 

Embracing ‘Retro’

theskanner lights on the building fullThe Skanner building at night in June 2020. (Photo by The Skanner)
In preparation, Bennett worked with an architect to better align the building with her vision. They have changed the layout downstairs so that there is now an 800-square-foot workspace where the eastside offices and a bathroom once were. She envisions the space as a classroom, and reflects on the difficulty she’s had finding suitable venues to teach continuing education in massage – “technique classes, anything from very anatomy-based work to more, I would say, esoteric ways of practicing,” she explained. 

And then there’s the stairwell in the center of the building, one of the main attractions when Bennett first toured the building. The stairs are no longer closed in by walls and doors, opening the space up into the atrium. 

Upstairs, Bennett added five office spaces. 

But there are certain aspects Bennett said she’ll never change, like the back door of the building leading out to the parking lot, professionally adorned with a collage of notable Skanner headlines and photos. That will always stay. 

Bennett has learned a lot about the block’s history in the process of purchasing The Skanner Building with her brother. She notes the Florida Room used to be a florist shop, and next door to it was a funeral home. 

“The Skanner Building had been built as a headquarters for a funeral home company,” Bennett said. “It was a training center for a nationwide funeral home chain, and then across the street was a funeral home and the florist, so you could do all of your funereal (business) within a block.”

As Bennett helps the building transition into its next chapter, she does plan to make another noticeable change: In keeping with the retro feel of the structure, she plans to have the top half painted a hue of clementine orange with a white stripe, with a dark blue base.

“I’m joking that it’s a very square building and it needed some racing stripes,” Bennett said. 

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