William Miller Building on Glisan

The building at 7815 NE Glisan Street does not bear the name of its original owner. However, for over a quarter-century, William Miller’s building stood at this location. Miller built several buildings for his plumbing business on the property, and his store would have been a landmark on Glisan.

Image courtesy Otter Wax

The recorded history of the building begins in 1909 with Sandborn maps show the structure labeled as Plumbing. It is smaller in scale than the building seen today, indicating that the current building replaced it. The original address was 209 E Glisan; it soon changed to 1957 E Glisan. The first evidence of this building belonging to William Miller comes from an advertisement in The Oregon daily journal of May 15th, 1915. In the posting, Wm. Miller is selling a horse and accessories at 1957 E Glisan Street.

209 (1957) E Glisan – Portland Digital Sanborn 1909

A vendor advertisement in the Morning Oregonian for July 5th, 1920, lists Miller’s shop. In the ad, Wm. Miller is within a list of distributors for Superbo automatic water heaters. Miller placed his own advertisement in The Oregon daily journal of June 8th, 1921. There he promoted his reasonably priced and durable sewer line work. However, the ad contains a typo that hopefully yielded a discount on the price he paid the newspaper.

Portland Maps indicates the existing building’s construction year as 1923. The October 1922 plumbing permit for the building shows Wm. Miller as both the owner and contractor for the new building’s sewer line connection. By the 1928 Sanborn map’s creation, the building consists of a two-story store with “Some Paints” noted on the map. Paint supplies at the location could indicate that Miller had expanded his operation into a more generalized building material store.

1957 E Glisan – Portland Digital Sanborn 1928

William Miller changed pace by 1930. That year a plumbing permit indicated the location became a Soda Fountain shop, and Miller was not the contractor doing the plumbing work. Finally, by 1940, Miller no longer owned the building. December of that year, a plumbing permit indicated that Golden Age Products Co. owned the building, and it was in-use as a Clinic.

For many years businesses used the storefront at 7817 NE Glisan, while people lived above at 7815 NE Glisan. Most recently, Glisan Street Saddlery had a shop on the first floor. Now the whole building is used by Otter Wax, a maker of all-natural Fabric Care, Leather Care, and Apothecary products. It is just another example of the 100-year-old retail legacy along Glisan that owes recognition to the people who created it.

UPDATED – Added information about new building owners Otter Wax. Added original building image.