Monday, May 14, 2007

A Little bit of Chicago in Sellwood

Many years ago, the southeast area known as Sellwood was the most populated area of Portland (more populated than Portland itself was at that time). The Sellwood area featured a racetrack, and an infamous bar called the Whitehouse (known for its gambling and prostitution), just off of what is now SW Macadam. The street of Macadam derived its name from the early process of road paving, known as macadamizing. This was the first paved road in Portland near the turn of the 20th century, and tales abound of men racing their horse-pulled buggies down this road to The Whitehouse; an early form of drag racing I suppose.

Within Sellwood itself stood a bar known as the Leipzig, and for years this was one of many watering holes on the southeast side near the bridge. Years later, the original owner would sell the Leipzig to its current owners, with one caveat, the Leipzig sign was to remain, and so it does to this day.

Today the attached restaurant is known as Geno’s. The bar inside was salvaged from a Chicago warehouse by the current owner, and adds a more authentic old-world touch to the atmosphere of the bar (the brass seal from the manufacturer is still on the bar today).

The legacy left behind by the original owner, the Leipzig sign, often makes me consider what drives men to want to create and perpetuate legacies.

Add to Technorati Favorites


Brian Moon said...

Thank you. I've eaten in Geno's many times, and didn't realize that the bar had a separate name and history...

Though I have read about the racetrack and amusement park before. It was approximately where Sellwood Park is now, right?

Distilled Publishing said...

Yes the race track was in the North end of the park. I haven't found a picture of it yet, but am always searching. Part of what I did not post was that on the Liepzig sign there is a fish. I was not able to confirm it, but I was told by some locals that back in the day (when there was no bridge, and only a logging mill down by the river), men used to gather on the weekend to go down to the Willamette and fish. What they caught they would bring back up to the Liepzig and sell to the owner for meals that evening.

ValkRaider said...

For more information about Oaks Park (and the other amusement parks in the Portland area's past) check out this link:

PDX History: Amusement Parks

Oh, and how did you get Whitehouse off of SW Macadam and Sellwood together? They are on different sides of the river?


Distilled Publishing said...

I was told that the area back then was known as Sellwood, on both sides. There was a ferry across from the lumber mill for many years, many in Portland referred to that area of the river as Sellwood. But I see your point :)

Joe Fulton said...

This is an interesting history but not exactly complete. The tavern didn't pass from the original owners directly to the current owner. My grandfather, Billy Biner, owned and operated Liepzig Tavern in the late 40s and early 50s. My dad, Pat Fulton, worked for him. I have plenty of pictures and stories along with a sales receipt for the tavern.