NE Portland's 'Grotto' to celebrate 90th year

The year was 1924.

The first regular airmail service started in the United States and Calvin Coolidge was president.

That same year, there was a dedication after a Portland priest bought a beautiful piece of land from Union Pacific Railroad. It would later become known as "The Grotto."

VIDEO: Watch KGW report

Father Ambrose Mayer put down all the money he had, $3,000, toward the down payment of the land. A national campaign later came up with the remaining balance.

"This is just at 82nd and Sandy. That's all people think of. They don't think that this is a landmark, the Grotto, and a lot of people don't take time to take refuge in the city," said Brian Wolf, a daily parishioner.

It is 62 acres of peaceful land that thousands have visited ever since the dedication 90 years ago.

"There are a lot of things that are 90 years old, but nothing quite like this. This is pretty unique," said Wolf.

Wolf has been coming to the Grotto every day for the last eight years.

"It's a sanctuary and it's also a very peaceful place. There are paths all around, meditation places, beautiful ponds up above," he said.

And you don't have to be Catholic to go to The Grotto.

"Years ago, that may have inhibited some people and who may have thought, 'Well, only Catholics go there,' and I hope they realize we're very welcoming," said Servite Father Jack Topper.

Father Topper is in his 24th year living at the Grotto. He said time and time again he hears the same thing.

Many people still don't know the peaceful sanctuary is there.

Every year, about 300,000 people visit, but many are from somewhere else and have heard about the Grotto's beauty.

"Some people have never been here and then some people are overwhelmed with what is present here," said Father Topper.

What is here, he expects will stay just as beautiful as it is now, for the next 90 years and beyond.

"This is a special place for prayer, for peace for comfort and for people to come and say, 'I really had a wonderful day here today and it was a very peaceful day for me,' " said Father Topper.

On September 21st there will be a 90th anniversary celebration in the Grotto Plaza during the noon outdoor Mass.


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