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6300 SW Nicol Road
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 246-7771



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History of OES

1869 St. Helens Hall is established by The Rt. Rev. Benjamin Wistar Morris, Bishop of Oregon, and directed by Mary Rodney and her sisters Lydia and Clementine. The School opens its doors to boarding and day students on September 6, 1869. The house and chapel that was the School’s first site is now the location of Portland’s City Hall, on 4th and Madison.

1872 The five students of the first graduating class of St. Helens Hall finish their studies. The class of ’72 includes Sally Campbell and Mary Couch of Portland, Margaret Gearhart of Clatsop, Alice Henderson of Yamhill County and Mary Taylor of Astoria.

1890 Twelve lots, bordered by Vista Avenue, St. Clair, Main, and Park Streets, are purchased as a new site for St. Helens Hall. On June 9, 1890, the cornerstone is laid, and on February 24, 1891, the new school is ready for students.

1896 Miss Mary Burton Rodney, the principal of St. Helens Hall, dies at the age of 62.

1904 The Sisters of St. John Baptist come from New York to take over as directors of St. Helens Hall.

1914 Fire sweeps the School at its Vista-St. Clair address. Only the south wing remains, but classes continue to be held and boarders are housed in an Episcopal residence on 19th and Everett.

1918 The decision is made to lease the old Portland Academy building on 13th Avenue and Hall Street and use this location as the site for the elementary and high school.

1921 The Board of Trustees decides to purchase the 13th and Hall property. The grounds are developed and improved.

1924 An official school uniform is required for all students for the first time.

1930 Everglade, a house on Lake Oswego, is purchased to be used for recreational activities for the girls from the Hall. Classes included swimming, diving, lifesaving, boating, and canoeing. (Everglade was later sold, in 1950, to The Rev. Lansing Kempton.)

1932 St. Helens Hall Junior College is opened as the first accredited junior college in Oregon. Under the direction of Gertrude Houk Fariss, classes in nursing, secretarial skills, and commercial art are available. The Junior College remained in session until 1947.

1944 The Sisters of St. John Baptist leave St. Helens Hall and return to the East Coast, telling Bishop Dagwell that “…the shortage of Sisters and the work in the East make it necessary.”

1954 Gertrude Houk Fariss becomes Headmistress, a position she holds until her retirement in 1968.

1964 Because the state highway department plans to build a freeway that will bisect the school grounds, the Hall has been given a deadline of June 1964 to leave the 13th and Hall address. The Board of Trustees purchases thirty-two acres of land in Raleigh Hills, which had formerly been the site of the Nicol Riding Academy. The cross above the chapel, the brass school bell, and the School’s cornerstone are moved to the site of the new campus. St. Helens Hall had previously been coeducational through the Eighth Grade, and the addition of Bishop Dagwell Hall expands the program for resident and day boys in grades seven through twelve. The boys’ school shares the new campus but is run separately.

1972 St. Helens Hall and Bishop Dagwell Hall join, establishing a coeducational institution under the name of Oregon Episcopal School.

1986 Mount Hood tragedy claims the lives of seven OES students and two faculty members.

1988 OES acquires the Hampton Courts, a private tennis club, and renames it the Sports and Recreation Center (SPARC).

1996 At the end of October, the entire Middle School moves into a newly constructed facility, Meyer Hall.

1997 Bishop Dagwell Hall, former home to the Middle School, is renovated for the fine arts.

2003 The new Math, Science, and Technology Building is completed. Upper School classes begin using it in the fall.

2005 Renovation of the Upper School building is completed and opens in the fall.

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