Sellwood: Charm and Eccentricity in the Heart of Portland

By: Ben Anton

Portland is home to a number of distinct, eclectic neighborhoods. The Pearl offers ritzy, high-class boutiques and restaurants. Downtown is great for bar hopping. Northeast Alberta and Mississippi are home to a flourishing arts scene. The Hawthorne district overflows with funky shops and colorful characters. But if you are looking for safety, personality and community charm, look no further than Sellwood.

Nestled right next to the Willamette River in Southeast Portland, Sellwood is the place to be for quaint, locally-owned businesses, beautiful historic homes, and a strong, nostalgic sense of community. Sellwood and the adjoining Moreland neighborhoods are family-friendly and feature a number of different architectural styles, from Victorian homes to cozy cottages and bungalows. The streets are cool and the air fresh thanks to the many trees that dot the sidewalks. It isn't uncommon to see families out for an evening stroll or a group of kids playing a pick-up game of basketball some Saturday morning. The area exudes friendliness and safety; it's no wonder, then, that prospective home-owners are vying for spots in this beautiful piece of the Pacific Northwest.

The beauty and safety of its neighborhoods aren't the only characteristics attracting home-buyers and new families to Sellwood. The vast array of locally-owned restaurants and retail shops are certainly sweetening the deal. The Ugly Mug Coffeehouse is Sellwood's premiere alternative coffee source. Featuring fresh espresso and pastries, beer, wine, and a relaxed, welcoming environment, the Ugly Mug is the perfect spot to crack open a book or catch up with an old friend. The Grand Central Bakery is another great option for a fresh cup of coffee or delicious baked treats. They also do lunch, offering a variety of freshly prepared sandwiches on their own marvelous bread. Try Assagio if you're looking for more of an elegant dinner option. Featuring gourmet Italian food and wine, Assagio is the perfect choice for an intimate evening for two. And who could resist Papa Hayden's, specializing in over proportioned, gourmet luscious desserts.

Sellwood is also well-known for its seemingly endless supply of antique shops. Whether you are looking to furnish a whole room or simply find that perfect finishing detail, Sellwood's antique options will not disappoint. If you can't find what you're looking for in the infamous Stars Antique Mall, the Den of Antiquity has been providing the Sellwood area with gorgeous furniture and collectibles for over thirty-five years. The Den features an ever-changing roster of knick-knacks just waiting to be rediscovered. Farmhouse Antiques is a collection of eight different dealers operating under one roof. From pottery to jewelry to old-time postcards, Farmhouse is a great example of what can be accomplished when like-minded business people work together towards a single end.

The antiquing adventure doesn't end there, either. Kathryn's Antiques features ornate and beautiful glassware - a lot of it. R. Spencer Antiques focuses on buying and selling locally, and the Raven is home to some of Portland's most interesting - and dangerous - military antiques. Oh, and then there's the Sellwood Antique Collective and the Sellwood Antique Mall. Over eighty dealers work out of these two locations, so there's little chance you won't find exactly what you need and, as is often the case, a few things you don't.

After you've worn yourself out antiquing, make sure to take in the natural beauty of one of Sellwood's many serene parks. The Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is over 140 acres of beautiful wetlands dedicated to the preservation of some of the area's most precious wildlife. Both the Sellwood Riverfront Park and the Sellwood Park offer fresh air and the chance for plenty of exercise. Sellwood Park features baseball, football, soccer and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas and plenty of native Oregon vegetation. Sellwood also offers the natural beauty and family fun of such destination spots as the Sellwood Community Garden, the Sellwood Pool, the Eastmoreland Golf Course and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Sellwood is also home to the Westmoreland Casting Pond, historically used for the Rose Festival Milk Carton Boat Race event. It is frequently used by remote control boat hobbyists as well as for casting.

If you are looking for non-stop noise pollution, antisocial or downright rude neighbors, and the general hustle and bustle of big city living, then Sellwood may not be the best part of town for you. But if what you're seeking are quiet streets, amicable residents, quaint local retail and fare, and an overall sense of nostalgic charm, look no further. You are already right at home.

~Ben Anton, 2008

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