Plaza Events

Restored Town Clock and Plaza Dedication

What: Celebration of the refurbished St. Johns Clock and Plaza restoration
When: Saturday, September 30th.
District-wide festivities begin at 11 A.M and last all day.
The clock dedication is at 2 P.M.
Where: St. Johns Plaza

Reprinted from the North Peninsula Review newspaper, September 2023 edition. Article written by Barbara Quinn.

St. Johns Clock

A few years ago, when St. Johns residents and business owners filled out a survey about improvements they would like to see in the Town Center, repair of the plaza clock came up as a top priority. Other improvements to the plaza were also high on the list.

The repair request has turned out to be more challenging than anyone could have expected. In a two-year process led by the St. Johns Boosters and Venture Portland that required no short supply of gumption—the plaza clock has at last been restored and returned to working order.

It required research, the tracking down of rare parts (in some cases no longer being manufactured), negotiation with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) the site owner, the building of partnerships, and plenty of funds and tenacity.

The St. Johns town clock and the plaza were added in 1978 at the request of the Boosters. Although they are relatively new, the tradition of the town clock in small-town America is not.

Before cell phones and watches, people depended on town clocks to sound the hour.

“These clocks were originally and traditionally used to tell local time—they gave a community a sense of its own personality and its place in the world.”

Noel Poirier, director of the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania

Clocks particularly came of age after the Civil War in America. They probably peaked around 1920. After the crash of ’29, they fell into disrepair, they fell into decline. Town clocks can still be found in many municipalities across the county although not always in working condition.

Tanya Hartnett of Venture Portland, in partnership with the St. Johns Boosters, spearheaded the project to get the clock restored and at the same time improve the plaza. Venture Portland is an organization that invests in the smart, strategic growth of Portland’s 50 unique neighborhood business districts through grants, training, and promotion.

Tanya started the 2-year journey by approaching Doug Ray and Tom Stubblefield, neighbors who for years had repaired the clock. “They did a great job of keeping it running,” she said. But during the occupation of the plaza by houseless campers the clock was broken. Two of the clear domes over the faces were shattered and pieces got stuck behind the hands.

After researching parts, Tanya received a $5,000 grant for repair from PBOT, technically the owner of the plaza and the clock. She also received a $2,000 grant from Venture Portland and with some effort found a company that made the clear glass covering of the clock face. They no longer manufactured the part, but just happened to have two of the parts around and were willing to sell. The cost took most of the grant.

Tracking down someone who could fix the clock also required research and lots of calling. She found locals, Bob and Mark, watch repairmen who kindly worked for free. She found the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Portland Chapter, who were willing to work on the repair as volunteers. However, the parts they needed still required funds. (They have also worked on the Meier & Frank clock as well as the OMSI clock). They repaired the motor, rewired the clock, and replaced the lights with LED. It came to $3000 in materials. The Boosters are still seeking donations to help cover the cost.

Corresponding improvements to the St. Johns Plaza include tables donated by PBOT, and benches repaired by The Joinery, a member of the Boosters, who donated wood and labor. PBOT funded replacement bricks for the short brick walls, and the Boosters provided a new bulletin board. PBOT chipped in to buy games for Thursday evening game nights hosted by a different business each week to help keep the plaza active with positive uses.

Another grant from the city’s Public Environment Management Office (PEMO) obtained cafe lights for the plaza. They are both charming and provide a safety function.

The pocket park with native plantings near Burgerville also needs attention since a number of plants were stolen last summer. There is a plan to replace them.

Next on the list of improvements planned by Tanya, Venture Portland, and the Boosters is permanent lighting for the plaza. They have obtained grants from both Prosper Portland and PBOT for lampposts with hooks for hanging plants. However, they still need to raise $25,000 to cover the cost. To donate contact or donate below.

Use the link below to donate.

Thank you for your support!

Plaza Events

Fall Fling 2023

Come Out and Play!

Date: Saturday, September 30th

Time: 11 AM – All Day! (Clock and Plaza Dedication at 2 PM)

Location: St. Johns Plaza

What’s happening?

Join the St. Johns Boosters for a district-wide celebration, specials, and events at local businesses happening all day long throughout the business district:

  • Plaza gathering with art, music, and more!
  • Enter to win by simply popping into our local shops!
  • Clock and Plaza Dedication to celebrate the clock being fixed and all the wonderful improvements in the St. Johns Plaza!
  • Free clock stickers and more!
  • Hula-hooping with Allison Kirley
  • A visit from The Smalls mini horses
  • Jazz duo Portland Standard Time will keep us entertained with two live music sets 
  • Public Math Day events in the plaza with Vibe of Portland and at local businesses, with a public reading at 12:30 PM

Come and enjoy a day in St. Johns by supporting local businesses!

Fall Fling flyer about events on Saturday, Sept. 30th in St. Johns
Plaza Events

Summer 2023 Game Nights in the Plaza

Thursdays all Summer: Game Night in the Plaza in St. Johns

Each Thursday night from June 8th – August 31st, the St. Johns Boosters are organizing game nights in the St. Johns Plaza. Game nights begin at 6:30 PM.

Check the button below to see the list of games, watch instructional videos, and read the game directions!

A very special thank you to Kevin Cantrell for setting up the webpage describing the games and including links for directions and instructional videos.

Thank you to our sponsoring businesses!

Plaza Events

Summer 2023: St. Johns Plaza Events

What a great time was had by all last month, with the opening of the St Johns Farmers Market and the long-awaited comeback of the St Johns Parade and St Johns Bizarre! It was truly inspiring to see the district filled with music, food, and community groups for all to enjoy. A huge thank you to all who made those events happen!  

St. Johns Bites Recap

Our St Johns Bites Instagram event ended May 15 with hundreds of photos submitted and $600 worth of gift certificates given to the winners, which gives extra support to our food and beverages businesses. 

Summer is HERE and with it are a host of events to keep St Johns busy and activated! Below are some fun things that we have planned for the Plaza. 

Thursdays all Summer: Game Night in the Plaza in St. Johns

Game Night in the Plaza

Beginning June 8th, every Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 pm in the months of June, July, and August, the St Johns Boosters invite you to Game Night in the Plaza in partnership with PBOT. Each week a different business or community organization will host. We have a ton of great games for you to use – just bring yourselves!

Knit in Public Day

Saturday, June 10 from 11 am – 2 pm, Weird Sisters is hosting a Knit in Public Day in honor of Worldwide Knit Day. This is a drop-in event and is a great time to knit or crochet outside with your community.

Knit in Public Day in the St. johns Plaza, June 10th
Block Party, Saturday June 17th

Block Party

Saturday, June 17th from 12 – 4 pm, the Boosters are hosting a Block Party in the Plaza, a public event in partnership with SJNA and the Safer Together initiative with PBEM and the St Johns NET Team. Instead of a potluck for this party, we are encouraging folks to grab some takeout from one of our local businesses and bring it to the Plaza! We’ll have coupons and specials to entice you. There will be a short presentation on disaster preparedness and the opportunity to mingle with businesses and neighbors.

Father’s Day

Sunday, June 18th is Father’s Day and our Events Committee is coming up with some fun itineraries to celebrate those special dads in your life.

Dance United Returns

Two Thursdays, June 29th and August 31st, from 6 – 8pm Dance United returns to the Plaza for some Bollywood dancing led by DJ Prashant! This is a multi-cultural celebration that is free to attend and open to all! For those that attended last year, you will remember what a great time we had, and we can’t wait to dance with you again!

Neighbors dancing in the St. Johns Plaza

As always, thank you for supporting your local businesses! 

–Liz Smith
St. Johns Boosters Chair

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