at the Architectural Heritage Center

Selling the Rose City: Portland Souvenirs and the Imagery of Place

Meyer Memorial Trust Gallery at the Architectural Heritage Center


Part historical journey, part nostalgia, and part kitsch, Selling the Rose City presents material objects that for more than a century have promoted and celebrated Portland as a place. From hotel stationery to buttons, pocket mirrors to ashtrays, snow globes to games, this exhibit shows how items of all kinds have been used to “sell” the city and its architecture. Selling the Rose City explores this topic by looking at the earliest examples of Portland souvenirs, the rise of the mailed postcard, how real estate speculation and civic boosterism were bolstered through objects, the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition and the explosion of Portland mementos, and the marketing of Portland’s built spaces to the public today. Whether known as the Rose City, Stumptown, Portlandia, or by another moniker, Portland over time has been Selling the Rose City with a visual buffet of objects and ephemera.

Selling the Rose City presents items from the Bosco-Milligan Foundation collection. Thank you to the following for their generous object loans or donations to the exhibit: Philip Austin, Steve Dotterrer, Steve Franks, Norm Gholston, Robert and Candice Jordan, Denyse McGriff, John Maternoski and Portland Design Events, Marie and Tom Spence, Ryan Widell/Ben Vickers/Steve Mika and PDXoriginals, Bill Wright, and Travel Portland.

Selling the Rose City is presented with support from AHC members.

Selling the Rose City is curated by Val Ballestrem, AHC Education Manager, with exhibit construction by Doug Magedanz, AHC Collections Curator.

Architectural Imagery

Wednesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Classroom


St. Vincent Hospital Lithograph, West Shore Magazine, 1890. AHC Collection.

This display of imagery is predominantly from The West Shore magazine, published in Portland from 1874-1891 by German immigrant Leopold Samuel. In 1878 Samuel began adding lithographic illustrations to the magazine – artwork that was produced by the West Shore’s own in-house artists from drawings and photographs of buildings throughout the Pacific Northwest. The West Shore was not alone in creating this type of imagery: Harper’s Weekly and the Oregonian Newspaper are also represented, as is the work of artist Rockwell Carey.

All of the prints on display were generously donated to the AHC by Bill Hawkins in 2013.

Historic Sales Tools for Home Remodeling


Imagine a time about 50 years ago, when you might have walked into your old neighborhood hardware store and found items that spanned the decades. There would be new products like vinyl flooring or the latest in hardware for your kitchen cabinets, but you’d also find other items that harken back to an earlier era. In this new exhibit, you’ll see displays and product samples of paint, hardware, and other home improvement items. In fact, just about any aspect of home improvement is represented, from roof to floor, electrical, hardware, wood, tile, wallpaper, linoleum, and more. You’ll see an interesting variety of new-yet-old items and sales displays, some of which (for obvious reasons) are for products that are no longer sold.

The exhibit setting in Liz’s Antique Hardware Gallery on the Grand Avenue street front recalls the earliest days of our 1883 building, West’s Block, when Nathaniel West and family operated a general store here.  The items on display come from several collections donated to the AHC in recent years, as well as a few items from our founders Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan, and others on loan for this exhibit.