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Founders W.P. Olds and S.W. King became partners in 1851 and opened a retail establishment with humble beginnings in a small building at 195 First Street at the corner of Taylor. They called their establishment “Olds & King”. It was one of the oldest commerical enterprises to originate in the Northwest.


Within a few years, another gentleman, H.C. Wortman, befriended the partners and he became a partner as well. Olds, Wortman & King soon outgrew their quarters and they moved to Third & Washington Streets. More growth over the years and their next move was to Fifth & Washington.

Interior view of Olds Wortman & King in 1898.

Olds Wortman & King Delivery Wagon.


The Olds Wortman & King Stables were located in Northeast Portland near Woodlawn School.


Early view of OWK trucks and wagons lined up before making their morning deliveries[Photo courtesy of Charles T. Jobson, grandson of Welcome Low who worked for Olds Wortman and King].

In 1910, Olds, Wortman and King built a new store at Morrison, Alder, Tenth and West Park Streets and it was the first store in the Northwest to occupy an entire block.

In 1925, the Schlessinger Company, one of the largest department store chains in the West, took over operation of the store. In 1926, the Schlessingers reorganized the store and made many changes, celebrating the 75th Anniversary with a Diamond Jubilee. They wanted to showcase a thoroughly remodeled store with new display windows, interior enhancements and improved lighting effects.


Olds Wortman & King was known for its day-lighted atrium exposing four selling floors, probably patterened after Chicago’s very successful Marshall Field’s. In later years an escalator was installed here and it was recently removed.

On August 14, 1926, a reception was held to bring together a great and growing army of patrons who were sold on the splendid merchandising service based on honesty and integrity. Refreshments were served from 8 to 10 pm, while Harry Hobbs’ Orchestra provided musical entertainment. A fashion show of the newest creations was held on the Central Staircase and the adjoining runway that was built for the occasion. The next day, patrons were invited back to participate in the Jubilee Sale.

The Paris Tea Room at Olds Wortman & King circa 1911.

Streetcars stopped at Olds Wortman & King, circa 1915. 

Within the next few years, the name was shortened to Olds & King. In 1933, the store was reorganized again under new management, and took on the Schlessinger name. The name was changed in 1943 to Western Department Stores Incorporated. After World War II ended, they undertook a large expansion and remodeling program, installing one of the first escalator installations on the West Coast. Shortly thereafter, they installed new automatic elavators.


Window display showing bicycles sold at Olds & King.


Big Top Circus Toyland at Olds & King.


Santa Express at Toyland at Olds & King.


1931 Santa Catalog from Olds Wortman & King.


As with many stores, the surviving family members decided they no longer wanted to run a department store. Olds & King remained in business into the 1960s. Soon thereafter, the building housed Rhodes Department Store and they remained in business until the early 1970s.

Portland’s latterday forefathers Bill and Sam Naito renovated the building in the mid-1970s and opened the Galleria with 42 stores on three floors. The urban mall met with early success, but over the years it lost its luster and retail has been consolidated on the first floor. The Western Culinary Institute occupies the upper floors with a space on the first floor for a restaurant, cafe and a coffee shop where they feature the baked creations of aspiring chefs from the Institute. Brooks Brothers now occupies a large portion of the first floor.

Department Stores

Last updated 12-21-11

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