After the COVID-imposed drought of rides, I’ve been fairly eager to lead rides again. But most of the rides that I’ve led since June of 2021 have been repeats: rides I’ve led in the past. The only exception was the Train History to St. Johns Ride, but I co-led that with Dan Haneckow, who did most of the talking. The Old Library Branches Ride is the first new one of this new era. I had originally intended on leading it in August, but the Delta surge scuttled those plans.
And I was getting a little worried that I might have to scuttle the rescheduled ride, as after a very dry February it looked like Saturday February 26th could be wet. Thankfully the rain held off for the most part. We had sixteen riders show up at Fleur de Lis Bakery at NE 40th and Hancock in the Hollywood District. And there was a good reason to start the ride here, besides it being a good spot for breakfast: It is a former Multnomah County Library! The building served as the Hollywood Branch from 1960 to 2002, when the branch moved a block away to NE Tillamook and 41st.
From there, I hit up four more former branches:
- The East Portland Branch on SE Alder and 11th. This Carnegie library designed by prominent Portland architect A. E. Doyle served the neighborhood from 1911 to 1967. It is currently professional offices.
- Brooklyn Branch at SE 21st and Powell. This storefront library served the neighborhood from about 1930 to 1970. It is now home to Seven Corners Cycles.
- The former Sellwood-Moreland Branch at SE Milwaukie Av and Lexington St. This mid-century building served the neighborhood from 1965 to 2002. The library then moved to its current location on SE 13th and Bidwell. The building is currently a church.
- The former-former Sellwood Branch on SE Nehalem near 14th. This was the branch’s home from 1935-1965. It is currently a private home.
By that point we had ridden eight miles, so we took a break at the New Seasons in Sellwood. By that point the threatened rain had shown up, which dampened (ha!) enthusiasm. So I decided to end the ride there. And in retrospect my full route idea was perhaps too ambitious for a February day–twenty miles is great for a ride like this in summer, not so much in winter.
I’m planning on doing more Old Library Branches Rides in the future. This one only concentrated on locations (mostly) in SE. There’s more scattered around N and NE, maybe a summer ride hitting up that area is in the cards?