Browse Exhibits (3 total)

St. Helen's Hall - The Early Years (1869-1910s)


St. Helen's Hall was founded in 1869 by Bishop Benjamin Wistar Morris and operated by his sister-in-law, Mary Rodney. The original school site was located on 4th Avenue and Jefferson Street, which is now the current site of Portland City Hall. 

By the 1880s, downtown Portland was growing fast and the school needed a new location. In 1891, St. Helen's Hall moved into the Vista Avenue building where it saw many years of good enrollment and exciting curriculum. In 1904, the Sisters of St. John the Baptist, a convent located in New York, came to manage and operate St. Helen's Hall. After a devastating fire destroyed the Vista Avenue building in 1914, the school remained open and classes resumed in the gymnasium.

By the end of the 1910s, St. Helen’s Hall was again in need of a new location to accommodate the school’s increasing enrollment and in 1918 it moved into the old Portland Academy building on SW 13th and Hall streets.

St. Helen's Hall - The Days of the Hall (1918-1964)


After a devastating fire destroyed all but the gym of the St. Helen’s Hall Vista Avenue building, the school was relocated in 1918 to the vacant Portland Academy building on SW 13th and Hall. From there, the school grew to accommodate the increasing needs of the students. During this time, St. Helen's Hall was affectionately referred to as "The Hall." The school maintained its high standards of academic work and a certificate from St. Helen’s Hall was accepted in lieu of examination at all state colleges in Oregon, Washington, and California. The St. Helen’s Hall Junior College opened in 1932 and became the first accredited junior college in Oregon. After the sisters relinquished management of the school in 1944, St. Helen’s Hall experienced difficult times, with administrative changes and finances. But by the mid-1950s, the Hall was thriving again thanks to community involvement and support, and steady leadership. In the early 1960s, the state highway department said Interstate 405 would cut through the St. Helen’s Hall campus and the school was given until June 1964 to vacate. The school’s Board purchased 32 acres of rural land in Raleigh Hills (formerly the Nicol Riding Academy where many students rode horses on weekends) and the Hall moved to its new home in September 1964.

From St. Helen's Hall to OES (1964 - Present)


In the early 1960s, St. Helen’s Hall was told to move for the construction of Interstate 405. Once the school’s board secured land in the Raleigh Hills area of southwest Portland, construction began immediately and, in September 1964, St. Helen’s Hall moved into its new home. This time of transition brought many changes. In 1965, Bishop Dagwell Hall, a separate, but complementary high school for boys, was added to the campus next to St. Helen’s Hall.  Then in 1968, the two schools agreed to share the same name “Oregon Episcopal Schools.” It wasn’t long after that the two schools merged (dropping the ‘s’ on Schools) and in 1971 for the first time, all grade levels became co-educational. Thus, began the era of Oregon Episcopal School – OES – that continues today. Our community still embraces an adventurous spirit – as well as an ongoing commitment to develop and use our "power for good." As we hope to do for the next 150 years.