On September 24, 2010, the Visitor Information Center, designed by Portland architect John Yeon and now home to the the Portland Rose Festival, was officially placed on the National Register of HIstoric Places after nearly two years of work to restore the historic structure in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Built in 1949 as a Visitor's Center, the building is considered an important example of modernist design, but had fallen into complete disrepair. The building was long vacant, and became an eyesore in Waterfront Park, causing some to advocate for it to be demolished. Commissioner Leonard saw the potential the building had, and felt it would be an ideal fit for the Portland Rose Festival headquarters.
In 2009, Commissioner Leonard and Commissioner Fish developed an agreement between the Water Bureau and the Parks Bureau, and the Water Bureau took over the property beginning a variety of improvements including new landscaping, the restoration of the historic water feature, restoration of windows and building materials from the original structure, a new paint job featuring the original colors, and the installation of an iconic neon rose that sits atop the outbuilding, marking the Rose Festival's new home, and the renewal of a key piece of Portland's architectural history.
The renovations were overseen by the capable design team of Curtis Banger and Steven Ewoldt, who took great care to see that the building's renovation was consistent with Yeon's original design. In April 2010, the process was completed and the Portland Rose Festival moved in.
The designation on the National Register of Historic Places establishes the building as a key historic building and helps to insure careful stewardship of the building in the future.