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Historic elk statue returning to downtown Portland

Two years after the statue was badly damaged during the protests of summer 2020, the city of Portland has started the process of bringing it back downtown.
Credit: Robert Sutton

PORTLAND, Ore — Portland's famous bronze elk statue will return to downtown Portland more than two years after it was damaged by protesters and removed from its spot on Southwest Main Street, city officials announced Tuesday.

The city is planning its homecoming for late 2022 or early 2023. Despite restoration efforts, the elk will not stand on the historic granite fountain that served as its base for 120 years.

During the nightly protests downtown during the summer of 2020, protesters damaged the statue and its granite base when they lit fires in the troughs around the base of the statue. The city feared even further damage, and the elk and base were removed in July 2020 and taken into storage to be restored.

This week, the city applied for a demolition delay permit, acknowledging that the demolition already took place on an urgent timeline, and asking to have the statue's historic designation removed so a new pedestal can be designed and installed. Approval is expected in June after a mandatory 120-day waiting period. 

RELATED: Arts board says statues toppled during Portland protests should not return to original sites

Credit: RACC

After that, the city will release a design proposal, which the public will have the chance to comment on. Because of the extensive damage to the fountain base, the city is considering installing a smaller base that would no longer operate as a water fountain. The city said no design decisions have been made yet. 

The city intends to return the statue to its original spot on Southwest Main between 3rd and 4th Avenues, but because of the public design process other locations could still be on the table. 

Credit: City of Portland
Portland's historic bronze elk statue nearly ready to return downtown after being restored

The Thompson Elk Fountain was built in 1900 and named for David P. Thompson, the mayor of Portland from 1879 to 1883. It was previously damaged in 2011 by protesters during the Occupy movement. 


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