It’s apt that one of Portland’s—and the Pearl District’s—newest event spaces for weddings, parties, and other festive gatherings, Chown Annex (NW 16th Ave and NW Everett St, 503-243-6500, firstname.lastname@example.org), has been launched by a company with incredibly deep family roots. Chown Hardware opened in Portland in 1879, making it the oldest family-owned hardware business in the country, and one of the longest-running family operations of any kind on the West Coast. Chown unveiled the airy event space with high, vaulted wood ceilings on January 1, 2018, in a building adjacent to the company’s familiar late-1940s showroom.
According to Chown’s Vice President, David Chown, the building dates to around the 1930s and has “had a lot of lives” over the decades, most recently as an Asian-antiques shop called Antiques & Oddities, which had been in business for about 10 years before closing a few years ago. The new event space has already hosted a variety of gatherings and can accommodate as many as about 225 guests for fairly open gatherings, such as presentations and assemblies. “If you’re having a full seated meal, the space fits fewer guests,” says Chown. “We had one event for about 150 seated at tables, and it was very comfortable.”
In addition to its convenient location in the Pearl—steps from the Alphabet Blocks, Nob Hill, and Downtown—Chown Annex stands out, in a sense, because it doesn’t actually convey one particular look or aesthetic. It’s stylish yet informal with a slightly industrial chic that lends itself to all kinds of gatherings. There are two bathrooms, and although there’s no kitchen, there is a food-prep area where caterers can plate anything from simple snacks to elaborate meals. Also, Chown doesn’t rent furniture but can refer clients to other rental companies in town.
“We rent the event space as kind of a blank slate,” adds Chown. “It’s a space that can be set up just about anyway that you would want to.”