Albertina Kerr - A beautiful piece of Portland's history

April 13, 2014 11:46

 Albertina's Place - A beautiful piece of Portland's history

Albertina Kerr is an organization that today helps children and adults with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. There are many opportunities to help the foundation, one of which is to become a volunteer, otherwise known as an Albertina Angel. This organization has a deep rooted history here in Portland and continues on today in the same locations from almost 100 years ago.

The history of Albertina Kerr begins in 1908 when Alexander Kerr founded the Portland Commons Mission for homeless men and returning prisoners. Around the same time he also bought the Louise house, a home to serve mothers and children in need. Alexander Kerr married Albertina Sechtem in 1910 and soon after she died suddenly of typhus. In her honor Alexander Kerr dedicated their NW Portland home to the Albertina Kerr Nursery Home to provide day care and adoption services for single mothers.

In 1915 The Louise House expanded to a 9 acre plot of land on NE 162nd, near Halsey Street. There are several buildings on that land, the Wynne Watts School that was opened in 1938 which still operates as a school today and some cottages that were constructed in the 1940's and 1950's to house children. The Albertina Kerr Nursery was also growing out of it's original home in 1921 and was able to build a new one on NE 22nd Avenue between NE Glisan and Flanders Streets with the help of Alexanders new wife, Ruth Kerr and her fundraising efforts. This building continued its work until 1967, when foster care and community based homes where the new movement. In 1940 The Louise House and The Abertina Kerr Nursery Home merged into one, becoming the Albertina Kerr Homes. In the 1960's and 1970's Albertina Kerr began an innovative "continuum of care" program for children with mental health challenges and support for their families. Throughout the 80's and 90's Albertina Kerr continued working with mentally challenged and developmentally disabled children and adults. Today they continue this mission with help from volunteers and supporters of Albertinas Place.

Albertinas Place, this is the location at 424 NE 22nd, is now home to Albertinas restaurant, Albertinas Heirloom, Albertinas Jewelry Box and Albertinas Closet. This location was closed in 1967 for renovations and re-opened in 1981 to the beauty it is today. Visiting the Albertina Kerr house is a must if you are from Portland or visiting. I would recommend making an afternoon of this and eating in the restaurant for lunch and spending some time in the shops. There is a wonderful antique shop in the main house and resale store on the grounds. Walking into the Albertina Kerr house is like going back in time, the home is grand and the restoration was done to period. There is original woodwork, windows, staircases, furniture and more. The shops and restaurant are run by some of the sweetest people you will ever meet, the Albertinas Angels. Most all of them are volunteer only and really enjoy and embrace the history of the building and organization. Dining and shopping here supports Albertina Kerr. They will also host private events: bridal showers, baby showers, private luncheons and so on. This is a fabulous place in Portland to make memories with friends and family, all while supporting a much needed organization.

Written by Amanda Folkestad and Brian Porter