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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Summer 2003 arrow Oregon: Rehabilitation of Pioneer Square U.S. Courthouse and U.S. Post Office, Portland

Closed Case:
Oregon: Rehabilitation of Pioneer Square U.S. Courthouse and U.S. Post Office, Portland

Agency: General Services Administration

As reported in the Fall 2002 Case Digest, the General Services Administration (GSA) proposes to rehabilitate the 127-year-old Pioneer Building in Portland, Oregon, which is the oldest Federal facility in the Pacific Northwest and a National Historic Landmark. Since 1875, Portland’s Federal courthouse has shared the Pioneer Building with the U.S. Postal Service.

GSA’s plan to shut down the post office to accommodate the expansion of the Ninth Circuit Court raised issues concerning continued public access to the historic building and the effects of a proposed basement parking lot and driveway.

In May 2003, the ACHP executed a Memorandum of Agreement with GSA, the National Park Service, and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Officer on the rehabilitation of Pioneer Courthouse.

Pioneer Square Courthouse, Portland, Oregon



Pioneer Square Courthouse, Portland, OR (photo GSA)




While the consulting parties could not find feasible and prudent alternatives to the relocation of the post office or the introduction of basement parking in the historic building, the agreement does provide for extensive mitigation of the adverse effects of the project on the historic property.

For example, GSA will organize a Citizens Advisory Committee for input on how the public can access and enjoy the National Historic Landmark, and will help the Postal Service relocate to another historic building in downtown Portland. GSA is also required to record the historic aspects of the courthouse, revise the building’s preservation plan and historic structures report, and approach the U.S. courts about how to better address issues related to historic buildings.

The agreement also allows the project’s consulting parties to continue discussions on the project’s details, and allows for future provisions to address potential archeological resources that may be affected by the rehabilitation.

The agreement concludes lengthy consultations on the project among the agencies as well as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Postal Service, the City of Portland Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For background information on this case, see the Case Digest archive at

Staff contact: Margie Nowick

Updated November 20, 2003

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