1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
June 9, 2020
Portland Parks & Recreation and Mayor Ted Wheeler are pleased to announce that the former Lynchview Park (SE 167th Avenue and Market Street in east Portland) has been renamed Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park. This is the first Portland park named after a prominent and beloved Black female leader. The site recently underwent major improvements thanks to the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond and Parks System Development Charges.
Before his passing in January 2020, former Parks Commissioner Nick Fish directed a naming committee comprised of nine community members from the Centennial Neighborhood, the Rosewood Initiative, and Patrick Lynch Elementary School to recommend a new name. After reviewing multiple options, the committee chose to honor Verdell Burdine Rutherford.
Click here to view a video from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, PP&R Director Adena Long, and Charlotte Rutherford (Verdell’s daughter) about the importance of this historic name change.
About Verdell Burdine Rutherford
Verdell Burdine (pronounced bur-DYE-n) was born in Oklahoma in 1913 and moved with her family that same year to Oregon, who hoped to get farmland under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Upon arrival, they learned that Black people were prohibited from owning free land in Oregon.
In 1936, Verdell married Otto Rutherford and settled in Portland. Together, they were leaders of the Oregon chapter of the NAACP, a national civil rights organization, and oversaw one of the NAACP’s biggest victories – the passage of the Public Accommodations Act of 1953 which outlawed discrimination in public places on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.
Rutherford was also a historian of the Black community in Portland. In 2011, a decade after Verdell’s passing, her daughter, Charlotte, gifted her historical collection to Portland State University. It remains accessible for academic research and public use as desired by Verdell.
“Mom rightfully considered herself a local historian,” said Verdell’s daughter, Charlotte Rutherford. “She was that and so very much more: a beautiful woman with a kind heart and a wonderful sense of humor; a very good cook, especially her yeast rolls; and most importantly to and for me, a loving, supportive and inspirational mother. She was a hardworking volunteer and community activist who did not seek the limelight, but she would have accepted this honor humbly, knowing that this park will provide a place for the community to gather together.”
Read more about Verdell Burdine Rutherford's story here.
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, there are restrictions and/or closures on many Portland Parks & Recreation sites. All PP&R playgrounds are closed at this time. All parks, natural areas, and trails remain open for use. Please follow ALL public health guidelines and maintain 6 feet of social distancing with other park and trail users, including PP&R staff who are out working. For updated information on closures and cancellations, please visit portlandoregon.gov/parks/COVID-19
A community celebration at Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park will be held at a later date.
Construction is beginning to wrap up, and public art has been installed. The main step remaining is installation of the poured-in place rubber surfacing. A community celebration will be held when it is safe to hold large public gatherings.
Construction mobilization will start the week of May 13, 2019.
Parks Commissioner Nick Fish has approved additional System Development Charge funds for this project to allow for the installation of a Portland Loo (permanent restroom) as part of the improvements at this Park. The Loo will be located near the new playground, in a location that was previously planned to have a porta-potty. (The playground will be located along the eastern edge of the Park, near the park entries at SE 167th Avenue).
In our outreach process during the design phase, we heard interest from many neighbors about having a restroom near the playground, and a Loo was rated as one of the top desired passive amenities.
Portland Loos have been installed in many Portland parks, including Waterfront Park, Gateway Discovery Park, Raymond Park, and Parklane Park. Made primarily of steel, they are a single-user restroom that is designed and manufactured in Portland to be ADA-accessible, safe, and graffiti-resistant. Port-a-potties do temporarily fill the need for a public restroom, but they are frequently targets of vandalism in neighborhood parks.
The Loo will be unlocked/locked daily and will be open on a seasonal basis (spring to fall). Here are some details about the Portland Loo’s features: portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/673319 and here: portlandoregon.gov/parks/59293
A new playground area, pathways, benches, irrigation improvements, and other park amenities was added to Verdell Burdine Rutherford (formerly Lynchview Park), thanks to funding from the Parks Replacement Bond and System Development Charges. Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park is located at SE 167th Avenue and SE Market Street.
Through a Project Advisory Committee and Community Open House events, the community helped guide the development of a concept plan for the layout of the park and the design of the playground.
Gary Datka, firstname.lastname@example.org, 971-288-9230
Public Involvement Coordinator
Maija Spencer, email@example.com, 503-823-5593
Project Advisory Committee Members
Andra Cassen, Yesenia Delgado, Brian Flores Garcia, Emily Garafalo, Jenny Glass, Jennifer Hopkins, Michone Moore, Madelyn Morris, Gayle Palmer, Ana Pineda, Amber Stadler.
To receive project updates, sign up here.