20 Years in Multnomah, 77 Years of History
Above, Photos from the 1920's of Multnomah's only bank. It officially opened January 2,1924 as the Multnomah Commercial and Savings Bank. It was robbed twice. The headline of the day procalims one of them. Unable to survive the Depression, the robberies, and lack of FDIC insurance, it closed in 1934. It's now O'Connor's Annex, where we host music, private parties, meetings, and special occasions. The vault is still here but the money is long gone.
The Last Male Enclave
from a 1974 article in The Oregon Journal
One by one the bastions of male chauvinism have fallen under the onslaught of a phenomenon few mere males understand.
With the "integration" of Meier & Frank's 10th floor men's lunchroom last Friday, only a few private domains such as the City Club remain—and even that stronghold is teetering on the verge of capitulation. Publically-licensed premises, for the most part, went "under" years or months ago. Perkins’ Pub, a masculine sanctuary in the basement of Llpman's, was invaded by a gaggle of libbers who ordered sandwiches while the TV cameras recorded the event for history. The Hoyt Hotel's men's bar held out until the hotel closed more than a year ago, a martyr to many things, perhaps the least of them its vaunted chauvinism.
As of this week only one tiny enclave of the male world continued to fly its colors and that was the tiny cafe and saloon in the Times Building long known as O'Connor's.
As inexorable as changing social patterns are the factors that condemn the older (and somehow more interesting) parts of the city to the wrecking ball Flguratively at least, the wrecking crews now hover over the old Times Building at 417 SW Washington St. Portland Federal Savings& Loan Association has acquired the building and although no one seems certain as to when it will happen, tenants of the Times Building ﬁgure their days are numbered. Meanwhile, O'Connor’s, also on SW Washington Street. proudly shows the flag clear to the mere male of "service to men only." O'Connors doesn't have a cardroom any longer, but it still has one of the best luncheon counters oriented to male palates you'll ﬁnd anywhere. There's also a real man's bar and a pool table.
I strolled down the other day to partake again of Chef George Steffey‘s famed clam chowder, which is really a kind of bouillabaisse with oysters, shrimp, clams and even bacon that George calls "Westem seafood chowder." It is a hearty man's dish that sticks to your ribs after gladdening your palate and it's quite possible that a lot of women wouldn't care for it. (“I never heard of putting bacon in clam chowder," sniffed A Certain Party when I told her about it.) Steffey hasn't always cooked for men only. He was at Dorchester House under the late Al Jaroff's management years ago and his range of dishes is wide. Customers like his ribs and crown of pork chops. His applesauce is a minor poem and customers who've tried it say his"buttermilk chicken” is the epitome of homestyle cooking.
It's the kind of place Damon Runyon might have liked. Swede Swenson, the afternoon bartender. is always razzing George about his unpredictable menu. George, 44, is almost a behemoth of a man, weighing in at a hefty 360 pounds. "I had a checkup at Kaiser Hospital not long ago," he says, "and the doctor told me I was the healthiest fat man in Portland."
There are only nine stools at 0‘Connor’s lunch counter and regulars know that it's best to go early or late if you want to find a seat. On the days George makes his bread pudding it's better to come early because one of the Radio Cab drivers has a thing about it and eats so many bowls that there's never enough to go around. Not long ago Portland lawyerTyler Marshall had luncheon at 0‘Connor's and was so impressed he took his wife back for dinner. They wouldn't serve her. You see, gals, it's not just that the place has only one restroom. It's also the fact that a lunch counter with only nine stools has to be selective.
You're always welcome at Connors: frienldy service, fine food, a rich history, a warm atmosphere, and plenty of heart.