Exploring the Woodstock Neighborhood / by Chris Bonner

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Before Woodstock was a lovely neighborhood in inner Southeast Portland, it was wilderness. In 1848 the Kelly family, led by father and Methodist minister Clinton Kelly, migrated West because of the looming threat of civil war and the promise of free land in the Oregon territory. They were searching for suitable farmland and found it in the area we know as Woodstock. Clinton Kelly and members of his immediate and extended family purchased, cultivated, and sold large swaths of land in the area for decades. 

The land was platted for residential development in 1889. Five men, with a gentleman named James Havely as their trustee, pooled their resources and purchased 194.5 acres for a mere $48,000 and named the subdivision Woodstock. The name came from Sir Walter Scott's novel of the same name. Havely built one of the historic homes still standing today, a Queen Anne residence located at 5450 SE 40th Avenue. He was also responsible for some key developments in the area like arranging for water and electricity service to the area and deeding a right of way to allow for trolley service to be extended to the neighborhood. The trolley was built in 1891 and ran along SE Gladstone to 42nd where it made a dogleg down to SE Woodstock.

Development in the area continued steadily through the 1900s. You can see evidence of development throughout the decades in the variety of architectural styles; there are Victorians, bungalows, cottages, ranch-style homes, and even some new construction. Founded in 1977, The Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA)has evolved into a reliable resource for the community. They have been responsible for improving the neighborhood in many ways. The WNA, in partnership with Friends of Trees, have planted over 900 trees in Woodstock. WNA hosts numerous events annually like an Easter egg hunt, an annual picnic in Woodstock Park with over 1,500 visitors, a Halloween party at the community center, and a plant sale. They have also worked to get street medians and crosswalks put in along Woodstock Boulevard creating a more pedestrian-friendly feel to the neighborhood's retail core.


There are two elementary schools in Woodstock: Woodstock Elementary and Meriwether Lewis Elementary. Woodstock Elementary is known for its Mandarin Chinese Program where students spend half their day learning in English and the other half learning in Mandarin. The school hosts teachers from China every year to teach students about Chinese culture and language. (Students can move on to Hosford Middle School and Cleveland High School to continue with the Mandarin Program). 

The two closest middle schools are Hosford Middle School, located in the southeast corner of the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood, and Lane Middle School, located just south of Woodstock in Brentwood Darlington. The nearest high school is Cleveland High School in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood.

Woodstock Park is a sprawling green space near the center of the neighborhood; there are horseshoe pits, a playground, an off-leash dog area, soccer and softball fields, and a tennis court! This park is a natural gathering area for neighborhood association events and all sorts of community activities.

Points of Interest
The Woodstock Community Center was built in 1928 and used as a fire station up until 1958; at that time, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) converted it to a community center. PP&R operated the building through 2003 when shortfalls in Portland‚Äôs city budget threatened to close the center. 

The Woodstock Neighborhood Association formed a subgroup called Friends of the Woodstock Community Center and committed to operating the center in partnership with PP&R. Programs offered at the community center range from dance and yoga to art and antique clock repair. Portland Parks & Recreation operates a play-based pre-school from the community center. Space is also available to the public as an event rental.

SE Woodstock Boulevard, the main commercial corridor in the neighborhood, has seen a bit of a renaissance with many new businesses opening in recent years. Grand Central Bakery, New Seasons, and the Portland Fish Market opened within months of each other, bolstering the local food offering in the area. Whether you are looking to stock your pantry for dinner parties, browse handcrafted curiosities, or satiate your thirst and hunger, Woodstock has got you covered.

If it's sausage and cheese, you're after head to Otto's, a neighborhood anchor since 1922, where the recipes are time-tested, and there is a robust selection of beer and wine to accompany anything you buy. They grill outside seven days a week from 11 am to 4 pm if you're already hungry. If you leave Otto's hungry, wander a few blocks up Woodstock Boulevard to the Fish & Chips window of Portland Fish Market, grab a seat at the picnic table and enjoy some crispy hunks of cod or halibut with their house made tartar sauce. 

Visit a couple of Woodstock's unique retail shops like Red Fox Vintage, where you might find something you didn't know you were looking for, or The Joinery, an incredible group of builders and carpenters designing and making sustainable wood furnishings. Pop into nearby Lutz tavern for a cold and frosty beverage. Lutz has been in Woodstock since 1947, and they are decidedly no-nonsense, in a friendly, Portland way. Continuing towards the eastern end of the Woodstock Boulevard business district you will find yet another lovely restaurant opened in the past year; Le Bergerac is an inviting and comfortable French bistro open for lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. 

When the sun comes out, start your morning with breakfast at the neighborhood staple Toast–one of the few businesses not directly on Woodstock Blvd–and wander a couple of blocks west to Woodstock Park for a late morning meander. From the park, it's a straight shot down SE 49th to the Library and the ever-cheerful Back to Eden gluten-free bakery food cart. If you need a pick me up, just walk a few blocks to SE 52nd to Heart Coffee, handily adjacent to Proper Pint Taproom opened earlier this year.

There is plenty to keep you busy not just for an afternoon, but for many weekends, should you decide Woodstock is the neighborhood you would like to call home.



Woodstock at a glance

Population: 8,942

Households: 3,782

Owned: 2,754 (72.8%)

Rented: 1,028 (27.2%)

Household: 2.32 persons (average)

Census Data

Neighborhood Map

Woodstock Neighborhood Association

Woodstock Neighborhood Facebook Group