A landmark on Portland’s east side for more than a century, the redbrick-walled Washington High School sat vacant for three decades. But now, a massive overhaul has restored the school’s status as a class act: The venerable institution has been transformed into one of the city’s top destinations for live entertainment.
At the heart of the remodel is Revolution Hall, an 830-seat venue set inside the high school’s original auditorium. Vintage character abounds, with a full wraparound balcony and wooden chairs providing a great setting for an amped-up sound system — and top-notch performers.
Booked by the duo behind favorite eastside venues Mississippi Studios and the Aladdin Theater, Rev Hall opened in April 2015 with performances from Neko Case and the von Trapps, and it promises a steady lineup of local and touring indie rock, folk and pop acts. Summer 2015 shows include pop-folk duo The Weepies and beloved Portland soul singer Ural Thomas with his band, the Pain.
The hall’s offerings extend to stand-up comedy and lectures, and it’s also the new home of Live Wire! Radio, a variety show recorded twice monthly and broadcast across the U.S. The live tapings feature two back-to-back, hour-long shows packed with great live music, comedy and interviews with authors and other interesting people.
As it happens, two students of the former high school would have made great Live Wire! guests: Food luminary James Beard and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling both attended Washington High School. Yet another reason to consider heading back to school — at least for the night — in Portland.