History of Jackson Tower


LOCATION: 806 SW Broadway, Portland, Oregon

ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Beaux Arts Classicism

ARCHITECTS: The Reid Brothers (James William and Merrit J.), a San Francisco-based firm, which specialized in the field of newspaper plant designs. The Reid brothers were born in Canada.


OWNERS: The Journal Building (also known as Jackson Tower) was erected to become the headquarters of a Portland newspaper called the Oregon Journal. Under the leadership of publisher C. S. Jackson, who acquired the newspaper in 1902, the Oregon Journal became one of Portland’s major newspapers. Jackson’s policy for the newspaper was to be fearless and independent. The other major newspapers at that time were the Oregonian and the Telegram. Jackson’s paper carried on into the 1980s, with presses rolling out over 72,000 newspapers an hour. In 1958, the building was sold to Theodore Bruno. In 1970, the building was sold to B & D Development, a privately owned company, who upgraded the building and reactivated its perimeter of lights that had been dark for many years. It is now used as an office building.

ANECDOTES: The Journal Building, a twelve-story steel-framed skyscraper, features a “wedding cake” design topped with a dramatic clock tower. The building is one hundred feet square at the base, the area of a quarter of a city block. At the entrance level, there are three colossal Roman-arched openings with recessed baroque framing elements. Beneath the entire structure is a two-story basement that once accommodated the press room of the Oregon Journal.

One of the striking attributes of the Journal Building is the fact that the architects used glazed terra cotta as the exterior sheathing material over the building’s steel frame. This terra-cotta glaze kept the building fireproof and contributed to its sculptural aspects. The type of terra cotta used on the Journal Building was made of hard-baked, fine-grained clay. It was similar to brick, but made of a finer grade of clay and fired at a higher temperature. Generally, terra cotta was manufactured in hollow blocks 4 inches deep with faces typically 12 x 18 inches. The terra-cotta firms of the time employed sculptors to make plaster and clay models for the ornamentation. The dominant firm manufacturing handmade architectural terra cotta for Portland was Gladdin, McBean, and Company of San Francisco.

Following a trend that began with the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, the outline of the Journal Building was illuminated with a series of lights. During World War II, the building lights were shut down to conserve energy. Then in the 1970s, the Journal Building’s newest owners, B&D Development, turned all eighteen hundred lights back on.

Beaux Arts architecture refers to the American Renaissance period from about 1885 to the 1920’s and includes the Italian Renaissance, Neoclassical Revival, and French baroque architectural styles. In America, these buildings featured facades of pristine white limestone, buff color, or yellow brick in a narrow gauge, often accented with sculptural ornamentation.