PP&R's first music program began in 1955 at the Knott Street (now Matt Dishman) Community Center where guitar classes, as well as a string ensemble and a community orchestra, were offered. A major commitment to music education was made in the late 1950s when all existing music classes were moved to the Woodstock Community Center. Children's music classes were introduced, including music theory and ear-training, and a variety of stringed instruments were taught. As the children's abilities improved, a string ensemble was formed. It was evident that the music program would soon outgrow its new home.
Community Music Center, Inc. was founded as a non-profit association in February 1960 by a group of parents and interested citizens. It played a vital role in the remodeling a beautiful 1912 firehouse - designated a Portland Historic Landmark - which became the permanent home of CMC in 1969. That project was made possible by a generous gift from John D. and Elizabeth Gray and the donation of services by architect Robert Oringdulph. Substantial improvements were made to the facility in 1999, bringing the building up to the seismic requirements of the City of Portland, and making the building accessible in accordance with the American Disability Act.