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Rendering by Bora Architecture & Interiors (Image courtesy Literary Arts)
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 16 April 2024

For the past four decades, Literary Arts has connected thousands of people to some of the world’s leading contemporary writers and thinkers through their programs, from Portland Arts & Lectures to the Oregon Book AwardsPortland Book Festival, and programs for youth including Writers in the Schools. As the organization marks its 40th anniversary, it is relocating its headquarters to a permanent home in Portland’s historic Central Eastside Industrial District.

The move into the new 14,000-square-foot building will represent a 170-percent increase in square footage for the literary nonprofit. The space, which is currently undergoing renovations, will serve as a community and cultural hub with a bookstore and café, as well as classroom and event space, writing areas, staff offices and a recording studio for the radio show and podcast The Archive ProjectThe Archive Project. The new headquarters is expected to open to the public in fall 2024. 

literary arts andrew Proctor Jill Sherman Ali ONeillAndrew Proctor, Jill Sherman, and Ali ONeill
“This building will be transformational for Literary Arts. Not only will it be one of the largest physical centers in the nation for literature and storytelling, but it will also stand as a love letter to this city that has been our home for four decades,” commented Andrew Proctor, executive director at Literary Arts. “It will be a place for our community to tell and hear stories, to write in community and in mentorship, to meet each other and talk about the ideas that matter most, and we are grateful every day to our supporters who have made this possible.”

literary arts new building intBuilding interior
Originally built in 1904, the building started as Strowbridge Hardware. During the 1970s the façade was covered over with concrete and it became a furniture store until new owners renovated the space in 2018. The building then sat empty until the team at Literary Arts purchased it as a new permanent home and started working in partnership with Bora Architecture & Interiors to reimagine the space. 

“We toured over 40 buildings, yet the moment we stepped into this two-story gem, steeped in history with its exposed brick and original floors, it was as if Literary Arts had found its home,” said Amy Donohue, architect and principal at Bora Architecture and Literary Arts board member. “Throughout the design process, we’ve focused on how this building can best be used by not only staff at Literary Arts, but also those they serve — readers, writers, and youth. The end result is a space that is a welcoming environment for all, irrespective of age, income, race, education, or geographical background — a true cultural hub in our community.”

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