St. Johns Lookout Site

Oregon Lookouts


St. Johns District of Portland, OR


Maintained; Occupied by City of Portland Park Rangers

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

Within city limits

Date visited.

October 24, 2021



National Historic Lookout Register.


Trip Report.

This is a building in the city of Portland that was used for fire detection in Forest Park. It’s located right next to the historic St Johns bridge and overlooks the Willamette River. The building is now used for the city Park Rangers office. My Partner and I decided to walk around the neighborhoods of North Portland and St Johns instead of driving directly to the site. I love looking at the different houses and architecture in this area. It was a rainy fall day but we got a break in the weather for our 6.5 mile walk. You are unable to access the building unless you have an appointment. I’m unsure if they’d grant access to the cupola though.


This historical building was built in 1907 as the city hall for St Johns City. It was converted to a fire station in 1915. There was a fire in August 1951 that devastated Forest Park and lead to the construction of three emergency fire lookouts in the area. The fire burned 2,400 acres which was about 25 percent of the park. The Portland Parks Bureau with the assistance of Engine 32 of the Portland Fire Bureau erected the one in St Johns in 1952. They mounted a firefinder to the exterior wall from the second floor window. I couldn’t find confirmation on when the cupola tower was added. In 1959, it was noted by a survey crew that the original cupola and flagpole had been removed from the building. The building was later renovated in 1964 and 1996, but it’s unclear on which renovations lead to rebuilding the existing cupola.

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