Workers of the portland woolen mills (photo credit: St. Johns Heritage Association)

Workers of the portland woolen mills (photo credit: St. Johns Heritage Association)

BB&S maintained ownership of the property and leased out the building to Columbia Sportswear whom occupied all 280,000 sq. ft. of the assortment of buildings. They eventually outgrew the space and moved to their current headquarters in Beaverton in 2002.

The building is now home to Cathedral Park Place, located next door to Cathedral Park and the majestic St. Johns Bridge. There are over 100 tenants occupying the building including several photographers, software designers, sculptors and other makers.

Originally built in Sellwood in 1901, the Portland Woolen Mills relocated to St. Johns in 1904 when their original facilities were destroyed in a fire. The mill was built alongside the Willamette River, the same place the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in 1805.

The newly constructed property consisted of four buildings on five acres of land. The main factory, now home to Studio 1904, was a 100' by 200' brick and concrete two story building. At the time, St. Johns was incorporated, not annexed to Portland until 1915.

The mill produced military blankets and wool uniform fabrics and was considered so important, that the Federal government took over plant operations during World War I, returning to the private sector shortly after the war ended. Persevering through the Great Depression in 1929, the building grew to 18 buildings and employed 450 people while processing 4 million pounds of wool in the 1950's.

By the early 1960's, the mill was gone and the building changed ownership to BB&S who owned wholesale toy distributor, Northern Specialties. By the early 1970's, they became the third largest toy distributor in the country but by the 1980's with the advent of big box toy retailer Toys R Us, Northern Specialties went out of business.

Portland woolen mills (photo crediT: PDX History)

Portland woolen mills (photo crediT: PDX History)