The Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) is one of Portland’s 95 Neighborhood Associations. We are a group volunteers who live or work in the Montavilla Neighborhood. We work together to enhance the livability of the neighborhood.
In 1889, Montavilla was an unnamed tract of land located in East Portland and known for being a rural farming community. Its 1,209 acres were located between Rocky Butte and Mt. Scott and were used mainly for farming and orchards.
The name Montavilla, actually a contraction of the name Mt. Tabor Villa Addition, was platted in 1889 according to Multnomah County records. Mt Tabor Villa was a cumbersome name to repeat and Montavilla became the accepted popular substitution. Villa is a Latin word meaning “county seat” or “farm buildings”. The contraction Mon-ta-villa became so popular that by 1905, numerous newly platted areas used Montavilla as part of their formal land title applications.
In addition to these large farm sites, a small business district had developed near the landmark survey marker P.5 or mile post 5 – located five miles outside of the city center near the intersection of SE 78th Avenue and Stark Street. The marker had been erected in 1854 on Baseline Road (Stark St) where it served as a mileage post for visitors coming in and out of Portland.
The Montavilla community changed in the mid-1880’s when local farmers sold off portions of their Donation Land Claims to land speculators. Speculators purchased parcels of land, platted it out into subdivisions following the rural roads grid pattern already established by the boundaries of the Donation Land Claims. Visionary speculators also picked out street names and potential home sites in subdivisions that used country names in their land titles. The growth was so rapid that by 1891, Montavilla had its own post office. The majority of this growth would radiate outward from that initial business district (near SE 82nd and Stark Street, P. 5 marker) and include numerous residential subdivisions that developed after 1889.
By 1890, Montavilla had grown enough to boast of “three grocery stores, a couple of meat markets, a livery stable, a privately owned bank and two blacksmith shops”. Capitalists who had invested in real estate speculation and in the proposed Portland and Fairview Railway Company were eager to advertise and market the district so as to recoup their initial financial investment. Lots were advertised as being for sale for $100 down with $5 down and payments of $5 a month.
Montavilla celebrated its 100 year birthday in 1989. Within the last 30 years, Montavilla has continued to flourish with activity and development. The busy thoroughfares of Stark, 82nd, Glisan and Burnside bring literally thousands of commuters daily throughout the neighborhood commuting to jobs throughout Portland and contribute to a thriving neighborhood community.