Given to the city by Multnomah County in 1927, Lair Hill Park provides the district with play areas, play equipment, picnic tables, and street and lot parking for all its recreational needs. The play area includes an engineered mulch surface, a rubberized surface for the merry-go-round, and a ramp into a large play area. The equipment in the play area includes a transfer station and many sensory play elements.
The park previously also included a wading pool, but they have decided to close the pools for health and safety reasons, as required by new State of Oregon regulations. Based on an inventory and assessment of the wading pools completed in 2002, as well as input from maintenance and planning staff, Portland Parks and Recreation has identified 17 wading pools for replacement and seven for elimination. More information is available here.
The neighborhood was named after William Lair Hill, a pioneer attorney, historian, and newspaper editor who owned property in that area. Hill also codified Oregon laws between 1882 and 1887. The park contains two buildings of historical interest. The main building, made of brick, was built in 1918 in the Modified Georgian Revival style. It contains “prominent brick quoining, gently arched windows with stone keystones, and dentils at the eave, and served as a dormitory for nurses working the county hospital,” according to their website.
In 1942, the building was remodeled by the State Architect’s Office to serve as the Youth Administration of the Federal Security Agency. A Junior Museum, later renamed the Children’s Museum, was created by the Park Bureau in 1949. Later, the museum was relocated to the former OMSI building in Washington Park.
The other, smaller building of historical interest in the park is called the Customs House and was built in 1921 as a branch of the county library. The building was constructed in the style of the Italian Renaissance Revival and was one of the seven Carnegie-funded branch libraries in Portland. Designed by Folger Johnson of Johnson & Wallwork, the arched windows and curved entrance with columns match Italian Renaissance style. The library included a collection of books in Yiddish, German, Polish, and Italian, as well as English. In the 1950s, it was converted to an art center by the Park Beaureau. Today the building is used as office space for Portland Parks and Recreation.
With play structures and historical sights, the Lair Hill Park provides entertainment for the whole family.