Monday, January 4, 2010

Hill Military Academy on NW Marshall Street

The original building in NW Portland (pictured above) in 1943 before it was torn down.  A parking lot was built in it's place.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Hill Military Academy

The Hill Military Academy, located in Portland, Oregon, was a private military school for young men. It was located in NW Portland from 1901 thru 1930 and in NE Portland on Rocky Butte from 1931 until it closed in 1959. It was founded by Dr. James Wood Hill. The school had early roots as an Episcopal Church School that changed into a prominent institution prepping future soldiers and officers for WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
The school was built in 1901. It was located on NW Marshall Street and consisted of a 4-story wooden building with a Don Jon Tower. The building featured a defensive architectural style that included a battlement roof line on the top of the structure and tower. This design style would carry over to the later buildings on Rocky Butte. It occupied 4 city blocks. The photo below shows the grounds where cadets would perform drills.

The school was authorized to send one cadet each year to the US Military Academy at West Point.

Young cadets in drill formation at Hill Military Academy on 821 NW Marshall Street (circa 1920)

In 1931, under the direction of Joseph A. Hill (Dr. Hill's son), the school was relocated to a 150-acre campus on the north side of Rocky Butte. This expansion featured the building of 13 concrete structures that included 3 student dormitories, school classrooms, a large 100 x 200 foot armory, a kitchen and mess hall, executive offices, infirmary, garage and aviation headquarters, faculty living quarters and administration buildings. A landmark 184-foot Douglas fir flagpole stood behind the administration building in the courtyard of the campus.  The flag pole was the tallest west of the Mississippi until 1944, when it succumbed to dry rot and had to be taken down.  Old artillery shells lined the campus sidewalks for decorative purposes.  Total investment cost of land and structures in 1931 was $500,000. Hill Military Academy was located at 9200 NE Fremont St. Many of the surrounding streets are named after HMA. Streets such as Cadet Avenue, Academy Avenue, Benjamin Avenue (named after Benjamin W. Hill) and Hill Way are all HMA namesakes.
Most of the original buildings remain today in 2009. The large armory was destroyed during a fire in 1965. A large residence above the main campus is being torn down, but several of the original homes remain. The former main entrance is now a road that leads to Cadet Avenue, a street with homes at the base of Rocky Butte.

Major Luther Felker
Seen below as a 2nd Lt. 14th Cavalry, US Army
Major Felker (born May 10, 1878 in Lewistown PA; died Mar 12, 1966 Milwaukie OR)) served as an instructor at Hill Military Academy from 1922 thru 1925. He served as School Commandant from 1925 thru 1928. He also served as the Commanding Officer at the University of Idaho in 1918. During WWI, he was an instructor at Rocky Ford, Colorado. He was a Professor of Military Science and also taught field tactics.

Major Felker fought in the Spanish American War and received the Silver Star for gallantry in action against Spanish forces during the attack on San Juan Hill in Cuba, July, 1, 1896. During the battle of San Juan Hill, he served in the First cavalry. His cavalry unit, along with the Rough Riders and the 10th cavalry made up General Young's brigade. He also fought in the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Uprising.

Lt. Colonel Samuel Alfred Felker

Samuel A. Felker (born Dec 13, 1909 in California; died Mar 31 1986 in Lakewood WA) attended and graduated from Hill Military Academy in March of 1927. Samuel Felker was the son of Major Felker. He was selected to attend West Point by President Calvin Coolidge when he was 17 years of age. He graduated from Oregon State University in 1931 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Samuel A. Felker served in WWII as part of the artillery division. He entered as a 2nd Lieutenant and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. He is pictured above in front of a destroyed building in Germany (circa 1945).

Hill Military Academy Time Line

1852 William Richmond and wife open small school in Yamhill, Oregon
1870 School renamed Bishop Scott Grammar Divinity and moved to Portland
1877 Fire burns down school
1878 School rebuilt and names Dr. James W. Hill as headmaster
1880 School renamed Bishop Scott Grammar School
1887 School introduces military training and becomes Bishop Scott Academy
1901 Dr. Hill leaves Bishop Scott Academy to form his own school
1901 Dr. Hill erects new 4-story building on Marshall St in NW Portland
1904 Bishop Scott Academy closes
1908 Joseph A. Hill takes over academy
1923 Joseph A. Hill purchases Rocky Butte property for future expansion
1925 School wins Supreme Court case in favor of private schools
1930 Dr. James W. Hill dies
1931 Hill Military Academy opens on Rocky Butte
1935 Scenic highway built to the top of Rocky Butte by Multnomah County
1938 Additional roadway with tunnel built on other side of Rocky Butte
1939 Park built on top of Rocky Butte and named Joseph Wood Hill Park
1944 New Gymnasium built
1944 184-foot flagpole taken down (dry rot)
1945 4-story building on NW Marshall St demolished

1947 Mystery rock falls from the sky
1947 Memorial Chapel moved onto campus

1959 Joseph A. Hill dies
1959 School closes
1959 Hill Military Academy sold and becomes Judson Baptist College
1965 Armory building catches fire and burns down
1980 Judson Baptist College closes and becomes Bible Temple
1991 City Bible Church and Portland Bible College build 2 large white monolithic domes


Oregon Historical Society (original HMA records collection)
Hill Military Academy, Mary Farrand Robson, 1948
The Oregonian (multiple articles)
The Oregon Journal (multiple articles)
The Samuel A. Felker and Helen S. Felker Family, 2004

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