After a busy start to the year, we’ve taken a little break from our MDS workshop tour to enjoy the summer. But as this season comes to a close and we enter the fall season, we’re gearing up for our next workshop in Portland in October!
One of our favorite parts about this tour has been the diversity in venues, and how each space has really been a representation of its city. Our venue in Portland is no different, so we’re excited to share a little bit about Union/Pine, a true reflection of the Pacific Northwest.
The evolution of Union/Pine and how it came to be is a special story, and we can’t wait to be a part of its story in just two short months!
THE HISTORY OF UNION/PINE
The 10,000 square foot warehouse we now call Union/Pine was built in 1960, designed by the remarkable Margaret Fritsch, who was the first female architect in the State of Oregon. The building served as a storage facility for the Volunteers of America for its first 30 years, and shifted between a few other businesses throughout the 90’s before the main floor became a sign shop. The 2nd floor on the other hand came into the loving hands of Todd Fadel, who converted it into the legendary all-ages venue, Meow Meow. Hosting a slew of local and traveling talent from Death Cab and Modest Mouse to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Meow Meow was the go-to spot for countless teens and twenty-somethings for a handful of super fun years until they were forced to move locations and eventually close their doors.
After another few years getting tossed around, 525 SE Pine was worse for the wear. A terribly leaky roof created massive puddles upstairs, rendering it completely uninhabitable. The sign shop crew had built rooms and cubicles throughout the main floor and covered them in sawdust and stuff for 20 years, and along the way, reinforced the rickety plexiglass windows with big wood doors, blocking out nearly all natural light. The exterior was a dingy white with rotting wood framing and stucco badly in need of repair when the building went up for sale in 2011. One Spring afternoon, Patrick Triato, a fresh transplant from Ohio, rode by on his way to work at his product design firm, and he fell in love.
Patrick inked a deal days later that countless architects and developers had passed on because it was “too much work”, and the building was officially his. Now all he had to do was to power through the remodel, and find a roommate to help pay the rent.
Meanwhile, Summer Killingsworth was hunting for a live/work loft, and answered a vague Craigslist ad for a place in Central SE. When she set eyes on it the next day, something bigger than a cool home started brewing as they began scheming an idea for an art gallery and event space that they hoped would serve as a hub for the Portland creative community. The list to get the place in shape was miles long, so Summer and Patrick got straight to work.
After demolishing all the walls and taking down all the fluorescent lights, they tackled the bar, using pallets they foraged from the neighborhood. The list continued to grow as evenings and weekends were spent lowering the ‘sunken’ living room floor, building the stage, replacing the windows, fixing up the bathrooms, building the rolling doors, and painting every square inch while they fine-tuned their business plan. Work parties turned into rooftop parties, as their amazing friends rallied to support their crazy project.
Brainstorming names for their venture on a rare weekend outside, they came up with “Union” as a word that symbolized joining people together, which was at the heart of the business. Looking for a word to compliment, “Pine” popped out, and it clicked. It wasn’t until months later that they discovered that the cross street (Grand/MLK) was once Union Street – adding a very cool element of destiny to the tale.
Once they had a name, the rest fell into line. The calendar was booking up, the parties were a blast, and the roommates were tired and happy.
Many lists, and 4 years later, Summer and Patrick were married.
So there you have it! A beautiful space with a story to match. If you’re in the Portland area, don’t miss your chance at signing up for our workshop on October 17th. Hope to see you there!