UPDATE: Fairview’s very own city jail is now on the National Register of Historic Places! We are so proud of this accomplishment, and what to thank our city partners and volunteers (Lael Larger, Dodi Davis, and Emmett Frison) for all their hard work in making this a success.
The 1915 Fairview City Jail is located inside the city limits of Fairview, Oregon East Multnomah County. It sits in a public right of way just inside the southern boundary of Ne-cha-co-kee Park (named for a village and group of Indians that once inhabited the western end of Blue Lake) on a piece of land known as the “Flatiron Block”. This “Flatiron Block” served as the location of the Fairview City Hall in 1915, and the jailhouse was built as an annex to City Hall.
Though the City Hall was eventually abandoned and demolished, the little jail, which sat just to the north of the larger building was spared. The area just south of the jail house, where the City Hall once stood, is now known as Handy Park. To the north of the jail and slightly west, sitting in the same park, is the historic Heslin House ,which is now a museum.
The jail house is a simple, rectangular building 10’ x 20’ with 8’ high walls painted with a grey paint. There are open barred windows on the west, north, and east side of the building. The south facing, front side has a heavy iron door with a padlock. Inside are two cells of equal size on either side of the building and a small empty aisle between them. Entry to each cell is through a somewhat ornate iron gate which was furnished with a padlock. At one time each cell contained a cot and a toilet, but these items no longer exist. The jail house, when built, was also furnished with electricity, but is also no longer hooked up.
There is little evidence that there was ever much need for a jail to exist in Fairview. City records show that a man named Roy Erison was arrested and held on September 12, 1916, to be turned over to the Sheriff the next morning, with no mention of his crime. There are also tales of the jail holding a few Halloween pranksters till midnight, for pick up by their parents, after spending some “cool down” time in the jail. During the Depression years, it is said that the jail was sometimes used to house a hobo for a night or two. In later years it was rented by local storeowners as cold storage for their products.
Today the simple concrete building is the last original correctional facility remaining in Multnomah County. ECHO welcomes the public to view the jail every third Saturday, along with our Heslin House Museum tour. For more information about the jail’s history and tour dates, contact us.