Marking its centennial this year, Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest continuously operating public garden of its kind in the United States. The garden includes 650 varietals of roses and draws more than a half-million visitors each year. Harry A. Landers has worked as the Rose Garden Curator for three decades, giving him unique perspective on the little-known history of one of the best rose gardens in the world.
Before the garden was built, Multnomah County’s Poor Farm resided for forty years in what is today Washington Park. In the opening decade of the twentieth century, explosive growth resulted in the farm’s displacement to Troutdale. In the boosters’ vision of Portland as a prosperous, healthy, and middle-class city of homeowners, there would be no room for last century’s poor farm. Kira Lesley’s talk — “Making Room for Roses: Portland’s Early-Twentieth Century Development and the 1911 Relocation of the Multnomah County Poor Farm” — will explore this history.
Harry A. Landers grew up on a farm in North Dakota and earned his degree in horticulture from the University of North Dakota. He first visited the Rose Gardens in 1984, when he declared he would work there someday. He is now the only full-time employee of the gardens, which are also tended by part-time assistants in the summer and volunteers who work throughout the year. Kira Lesley is a Master’s student in Public History at Portland State, where she studies U.S. social and environmental history. Her thesis focuses on the 1911 relocation of the Multnomah County Poor Farm. Besides history, her other passion is music, and she is a singer-songwriter, as well as a singer in a Round Trip, a psychedelic rock and folk rock cover band. She was born and raised in Northeast Portland and attended St. Mary’s Academy, where she was a Rose Festival Ambassador (which is a term they used instead of “princess” for about ten years).
Ability Accommodation Information
This event provides the following accommodations:
- Handicap Accessible
About History Pub
Join us for beer and history, sponsored by the Oregon Historical Society, Holy Names Heritage Center, and McMenamins, in which you'll hear lively local or regional history while you enjoy a frosty pint or two of handcrafted ale.