St. Michael the Archangel

424 SW Mill Street

Built from mostly donated materials for the Italian immigrant population of Portland, who had established the parish in 1851, this sturdy structure combines the power of  Italian Romanesque church construction with the warmth of a red brick exterior.  Its thick walls, attached square bell tower with pyramidal roof, and symmetrical facade mark it as Romanesque inspired, as do the rounded arches surrounding the Povey Bros. stained glass windows made of Italian, French, and German glass.  On the interior, a simple barrel vaulted ceiling recalls the naves of early cathedral construction, and three elegant rounded arches reveal the altar and adjacent oil paintings.  Yet the lightness of its bright brick exterior trimmed with Tenino quarried gray sandstone draws it into the modern era.  After a decade of restoration efforts from 1961-71 the city council declared it a historic landmark, and in 1969 the church recalled its origins by commissioning a wooden carving of St. Michael by Ferdinando Riffesara, an Italian sculptor.

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