Historic Jefferson Station incorporated into new Central Courthouse

October 31, 2018

Jefferson Station - Reception Entry 2nd Floor (rendering).
The historic Jefferson Station building at the corner of SW Jefferson Street and SW 1st Avenue was renovated and integrated into the new Multnomah County Central Courthouse. The former power substation was remodeled to house high volume hearing rooms associated with traffic, small claims and landlord/tenant cases. The remodeled Jefferson Station opened along with the new courthouse on October 5, 2020.

The last of its kind

The original Jefferson Station structure was completed in 1909. An addition was built in 1925. Jefferson Station was originally built as an electrical substation by the Portland Railway Light & Power Company to provide power to downtown. It is the only remaining structure of its type in downtown Portland.

The building played a role in distributing electricity for the business district’s early street lighting and railway system. Jefferson Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its original use and the reinforced concrete construction type. Its historic designation required that the building be preserved. The courthouse design team developed a creative plan to incorporate the three-story structure into the new courthouse complex.

A new life for a historic building

The new 17-story courthouse will flank two sides of Jefferson Station, creating an L-shape around the low-slung historic building. The design brings more natural light into the L-shaped tower compared to a full block tower.

Multnomah County’s adaptive reuse of Jefferson Station returned the building to public use. The original south and west exterior facades were preserved, along with a 20-ton overhead gantry crane that hovers above the building’s second floor. Tall windows on the upper floors were refurbished. The structure was seismically upgraded and building systems updated to support modern courthouse requirements, while preserving the remaining historic elements.

Jefferson Station exterior under construction Oct 2018.
The renovation included creation of high volume hearing rooms, a public waiting area, offices, staff bike and locker areas, CourtCare (childcare), as well as mail services for the complex.

The new courthouse and Jefferson Station building are fully integrated and connected. Public access to Jefferson Station is through the main courthouse entrance at the corner of SW Madison Street and SW 1st Avenue. Within the courthouse, there are connections between the new courthouse and Jefferson Station on all three-floor levels.

For more information on the Central Courthouse project, visit http:///central-courthouse.

Jefferson Station - High volume hearing room (rendering).