What Happened When?

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Highlights from a timeline of Catlin Gabel School and its predecessors

Compiled by Meg Patten Eaton '58


The Portland Academy opens in downtown Portland.

The living room at Miss Catlin's

Miss Catlin’s School (a proprietary day and boarding school for girls, grades 8–12), founded by Ruth Catlin, begins classes in a northwest Portland home. The school emblem, the pine tree in a circle, symbolizes “growing upward and onward into the circle of the larger life.”


Miss Catlin acquires 3.5 acres on Culpepper Terrace in Westover Terraces.


The school year begins with a “Bacon Bat” picnic, scary stories told by Miss Catlin are part of “initiation” of new students, girls wear middy blouses and bloomers for physical training classes or volleyball games. Dramatic productions, parodies, and skits feature lavish costumes and inventive scripts. The progressive notion of student government and concepts of responsibility, loyalty, and integrity are important. An “Honor Point Pin” —the pine tree in a rectangle—is awarded annually to the three girls who amass the most academic, athletic, and character points. Students annually gave the school ring, the pine tree set in an oval, to one senior who, in their judgment, best represents the ideals of the school.

The main building on Culpepper Terrace is completed, including Miss Catlin’s apartment.


The flu epidemic closes the school for a time. Facilities now include a tennis court.


Graduates of Miss Catlin’s form the Alumnae Association. The school song, “Far Above the Broad Willamette,” written by English teacher Anna Stillman, appears in the magazine. The Portland Academy becomes the Preparatory School (a proprietary elementary school) directed by Misses Jewell and Quigg. Priscilla Gabel is a teacher.


Catlin’s intramural teams, the Peppers (green) and Terrors (red), compete, mainly in athletics. Team names derive from the school’s street, Culpepper Terrace.


Students enroll in lower school grades on Culpepper Terrace.


A dormitory for boarding students is completed. It serves as the preschool after the boarding department closes in 1941.


The Preparatory School (Miss Jewell’s) holds classes at a former athletic club at SW 13th and Montgomery. The second floor is a vast gymnasium whose mezzanine is a sloped running track.

The Hillside building, from a brochure

The new Hillside building on Culpepper Terrace accommodates the elementary school (grades 1-6), which combines with the Cady School of Musical Education. Miss Catlin deeds the school to a self-perpetuating board of trustees as a nonprofit, nonsectarian, coeducational day school for grades 1–6, and a girls’ day and boarding school for grades 7–12


Elaborate May Day celebrations include outdoor pageants and plays. Vocational conferences acquaint girls with information about fields “open to women,” including a 1931 lecture by Esther Dayman, and there are many speakers on current affairs. Miss Catlin retires as principal and Jessie Powers assumes the day-to-day running of the school.


Lower School students present St. George and the Dragon as part of the May Day old English pageant.


Students publish a new paper, The Pine Needle, and this name sticks for many years.


First Catlin Gilbert & Sullivan production, Patience.


Priscilla Gabel acquires a traditional, downtown elementary school in 1931. In just five years she develops a progressive, coeducational country day school for students in grades 1–12. Activities include the use of tools in manual training classes, hands-on scientific studies, and carefully crafted tableaux of old master portraits. James Beard, who briefly fills in for an ailing cook, also teaches English for a time, and regularly returns to prepare the annual Christmas pageant.


Miss Gabel’s School adds coeducational high school classes; the first class graduates in 1935.


Miss Gabel acquires the former Multnomah Golf Club property in Raleigh Hills, reselling some portions for development, and incorporates her school as the nonprofit Gabel Country Day School. She teaches Latin classes.


Clean-Up Day involves all Gabel students in caring for the campus.


By some reports, Gabel includes about 60 students and half a dozen teachers.


Annual ceremonies include the first fire of winter in the Studio, May Day with a court of princesses, and mother-daughter teas. Graduation ceremonies in June involve ushers carrying the school lanterns escorting the seniors, who wear white evening dresses and carry sprays of blue delphinium and white peonies. St. George and the Dragon is a regular feature, becoming an annual 8th grade tradition in the 1950s.

Catlin graduation, 1944

Jessie Powers resigns, and Anne Parker Wood becomes principal.


Esther Dayman Strong becomes director of the Catlin-Hillside School.


First Rummage Sale raises over $8,000, substantial for those days.


Nell Givler directs first Hillside Gilbert & Sullivan, a production of H.M.S. Pinafore.

Gabel teacher Sam LeCount in 1941 at the pond with students


The importance of community and participation is high at Gabel, with lots of plays, sports, social events, and special celebrations at Christmas.


Last seniors graduate from Gabel, and the high school closes. Some of the younger girls transfer to Catlin-Hillside, becoming “double alumnae.”

A Gabel class of the 1950s

Amos Lawrence becomes principal. Pet Day begins at Gabel, initiated by parent and trustee Elizabeth Hirsch.


Thornton W. Moore becomes principal.


The student newspaper is the Hillside Herald. In the fall, students snitch grapes from the vines growing on the tennis court fence; in winter the courts are iced for skating at recess. The 8th graders produce an increasingly hysterical version of St. George and the Dragon as a holiday entertainment each year, and the 6/7/8 chorus creates a creditable production of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta every spring. New features in the high school include hosting American Field Service Exchange students. Student activities include an annual religious conference at Annie Wright Seminary in Tacoma, the Pepper-Terror horse show, and day and overnight ski trips to Timberline. Team sports are volleyball and basketball; opponents include Marylhurst College and St. Helen’s Hall (now OES).


Catlin-Hillside School and Gabel Country Day School agree to merge. Esther Strong continues as director of the newly formed school.


Fall: first coeducational high school class (class of 1961) enrolls at Catlin Gabel, meeting in Culpepper Terrace classrooms; K–8 classes use both Catlin-Hillside and Gabel Country Day facilities. The Raleigh Hills Public School District acquires the Gabel campus by the right of eminent domain.


Trustees purchase the 36-acre Dant property on SW Barnes Road. High school students move to the Barnes Road campus. Culpepper Terrace campus accommodates grades pre-K–8.

Folk dance in the Barn, 1960s


Activities include an all-school ski carnival, folk dancing, exchange of tapes and letters with the Fletcher School in Southern Rhodesia, competitions between “Team 1 and Team 2” (later Blue and White), and frequent speakers on world affairs. High school girls play field hockey, and boys play football. Older students choose French, German, or Latin. An AFS exchange student comes from Iran (1960), and the association with the Experiment in International Living begins.


The Barn serves as cafeteria, assembly room, theater, dance and music studio, and site of the prom and graduation. The Oregon Indoor Tennis Club develops private tennis courts on campus available for student use.

The debate club

First coeducational class graduates from the Catlin Gabel high school.


The Rummage Sale nets more than $20,000 for the first time.

The Rummage Sale

Student initiative results in the “student room” down by the Barn, for hanging out or playing ping pong in free time.


Grades 7 and 8 move to the Barnes Road campus, and the Middle School is born.

Girls in front: Rebecca Orendurff Coren ’78, Lucy Park ’78, Peggy Schauffler ’78

The trustees release the option to buy property to the west of the campus (now site of St. Vincent Hospital) and buy instead a 21-acre walnut grove on the north boundary; a portion of the grove becomes MacColl Field for athletic events. The Rummage Sale nets more than $50,000 for the first time.


Grades K–6 move to the Barnes Road campus. Preschool begins the year in a Cedar Hills church. Dedication of the Upper School library, designed by John Storrs on the site of the Dant’s formal rose garden.


First year that classes for all grades take place on Honey Hollow campus.


Senior-1st grader buddy partnerships begin. Ron Tenison introduces the first computer at CGS, a Hewlett Packard 9100A. First Rummage Sale at the Memorial Coliseum. Catlin Gabel, ahead of its time, hires a development director.


All-school events characterize this decade, including the PFA Back to School picnic and Spring Festival of the Arts. Student enthusiasm is high for rollicking talent shows, Rummage loading, complex Winterim schedules, and ambitious senior projects. Student and faculty madrigal singers, directed by Dave Schauffler, go on a concert tour, and the Summer Theater Group takes plays on the road.

Len Carr '75

Catlin Gabel hosts its first 7-a-side invitational soccer tournament.


Spanish classes added to Upper School, replacing Latin.


Construction of the administration building, nicknamed “Toad Hall.”


Cabell Center for the Performing Arts opens, honoring benefactors Henry and Margaret Cabell. The boys soccer team wins its 6th straight championship.


First year that the CGSA president serves as an ex officio member of the board of trustees.


High Country School leaders work with grade 6 to create a maxi-map of the United States on the pavement in front of the Barn.


The Gilbert and Sullivan operetta tradition is revived with a rousing high school production of HMS Pinafore. The seniors’ gift is their sweat equity on a regulation track.


First Grandparents Day.


Jean Vollum founds and endows the Distinguished Writers Program to bring notable authors to campus. CGS hires its first learning specialist.

Bob Ashe

Chaucer Day challenges sophomores to recite the opening lines of Canterbury Tales, anywhere on campus teacher Bob Ashe encounters them. Under the leadership of Joey Day Pope ’54, Honey Hollow Horticulture volunteers work to nurture the campus landscape. Computer technology alters the campus with in-ground cable links to the mainframe computer in the Upper School. Students study computer programming, and offices incorporate computers into daily operations.


The Rummage Sale first nets more than $100,000. First LS exchanges with the Summit School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Olinca School in Mexico City through the Network of Complementary Schools.

1982 nuclear conference

Middle and Upper School students examine nuclear issues in a conference organized by teacher Steven Saslow ’61. After-school care programs begin for Lower School children.


Catlin Gabel Foundation established to manage the school’s endowment. History teacher John Wiser receives a Certificate of Excellence from the White House and the U.S. Dept. of Education.


Students raise $2,000 during Mexican Earthquake Relief Month, their interest heightened by exchanges with Olinca School in Mexico City.

Lowell Herr

Physics teacher Lowell Herr wins a national Presidential Award for Excellence in teaching. The Rummage Sale moves to the Expo Center.


CGS receives $3.8 million from the estate of Howard Vollum, founder of Tektronix and the father of four alumni, for establishing the endowment (now valued at $23.5 million). Middle School students plant a memorial garden to honor those who died in the OES mountain tragedy.


The Gilbert and Sullivan tradition revives with a production of Pirates of Penzance. Boys are state soccer champions.


Lower and Middle School campaigns raise about $3 million.


New traffic light installed on Barnes Rd. Catlin Gabel connects to the early internet through Bitnet, the first high school in this academic network.


Increasing emphasis on becoming citizens of the world, with exchanges with schools in Mexico City, Japan, and England, and choir tours and other experiential trips to Europe. Counseling programs develop, and many students become trained peer counselors. The school engages with the Portland community through the Summerbridge Program for disadvantaged students, and teachers pursue increasing professional development opportunities.


New Warren Middle School opens. New Upper School activities include Model United Nations and Mock Trial. Japanese classes are available in the US for the first time.


Gymnasium addition includes new locker rooms, weight room, and health classroom. Dedication of the Lower School Art Barn. First year of the Gambol, an annual benefit auction. First exchange student from China. First MAT candidates from Lewis & Clark College undertake year-long internships in Lower School classrooms.

Art teacher Susan Sowles teaching weaving

Joey Day Pope ’54 Volunteer Award established in honor of an alumna with decades of commitment to the integrity and beauty of the school. Lower School renovation, with the library at the center of the building. Safety improves with a new, community landscaped parking lot, development of a new service road, and improved traffic control on Barnes Road.


Math teacher Sara Normington wins a national Presidential Award for Excellence in teaching.


First Elana Gold ’93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project.


Alumni, parent, staff, faculty, and student volunteers design and build playground.


The first Distinguished Alumni Award honors Philip Hawley ’43.


Edward E. Ford Foundation grants $50,000 to CGS for a faculty professional development endowment. Chamber Choir wins the Oregon State Choir championship. Dedication of Eaton Field, a baseball diamond on the lower athletic field, in honor of longtime teacher Sid Eaton.


Imagine Campaign raises $18 million.

Science teacher Lynda Jones teaching genetics

Upper School mathematics building opens. Science teacher Lynda Jones wins a national Presidential Award for Excellence in teaching.


The new century brings comprehensive development of the Upper School areas of the campus, advent of the wireless network and laptop computer program, revitalization of the outdoor program, a new robotics program, and burgeoning class trips and experiential activities. Individual sports include ultimate Frisbee, bowling, golf, and tennis, while hard work earns success for sports teams. The curriculum includes increased use of the computer in all fields, including study of digital design and photography.


Remodeled Beginning School opens, enhanced by honey bee sculptures by Ann Storrs ’72.


Corkran Pond and Schauff Circle are dedicated, James F. Miller Library and Hillman Modern Languages Center open.


Girls soccer team wins its eleventh consecutive state championship. Racquetball team earns first place in the nation.


Malone Family Foundation gives a $2 million endowment grant for financial aid to the school, one of only five nationwide. Drama classes added to Middle School

Ideas flow at the Imagine 2020 conference

Chinese language classes begin in Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. Imagine 2020 Conference works toward a vision of Catlin Gabel’s future.


The Catlin Gabel Eagles earn the OSA All-Sport Award for the seventh consecutive year, an award for the strongest record in all sports. 63rd Rummage Sale raises $317,000 for financial aid.

Meg Patten Eaton ’58 was Catlin Gabel’s first alumni director. She is also a former faculty member and the mother of Stuart Eaton ’85 and Bruce Eaton ’86.

Read the complete timeline.