Hung Far Low Sign Returns to NW Couch Street

A Couch Street icon will return tonight when the restored Hung Far Low sign is reinstalled in its original location thanks to individual contributions and financial support from the Portland Development Commission. The sign is a visible reminder of the unique history of Portland’s New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District even though the namesake Hung Far Low Chinese Restaurant left the district for SE 82nd Street in 2005. Ping restaurant is located in the building today.

The O. B. Stubbs Building, on which the sign is affixed, was designed by Portland architects Morris Whitehouse and J. Andre Fouilhoux and built in two stages between 1916 and 1917. The firm of Whitehouse and Fouilhoux was one of Portland’s most prolific, designing landmark buildings like the 1911 Lincoln High School (now PSU’s Lincoln Hall) and 1913 University Club.

Wilson Wong, a native of China, opened the Hung Far Low restaurant in the building in 1928 after working in the fish canning business for a number of years. In 1937, the Wong family purchased the building for $19,000 and leased much of the second-floor space to Chinese and Japanese businesses and civic groups. It’s unknown exactly when the sign was originally installed, but what is known is that by 2008 it had deteriorated to the point that it had to be brought down. It is thanks to Ping restaurant, Portland-based Security Signs, the Portland Development Commission, and countless donors that the sign is being brought back to life.

The restoration of the Hung Far Low sign is good news for the architecture and ethnic heritage of the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District.  Once unveiled, the restored Hung Far Low sign will rejoin Portland’s other iconic signs and continue to represent the evolving story of one of the city’s most significant historic districts.

Hung Far Low Sign

Information for this entry comes from the 1989 National Register of Historic Places nomination, this Oregonian article, and Richard Ritz’s Architects of Oregon.