Blumenauer Applauds Designation of LGBTQ+ Venue in Portland to National Register of Historic Places

November 30, 2020
Press Release
Darcelle XV will be the first LGBTQ+ historic site in Oregon

Today, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus, applauded news that Darcelle XV, Portland’s oldest drag club, will be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Following approval by the National Park Service, the venue becomes the first LGBTQ+ historic site designated in Oregon and one of only eleven sites nationally that have been selected for their significance to LGBTQ+ Americans.

 In June, Blumenauer wrote a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt urging him to support the club’s nomination for its historic role in using entertainment to impact a cultural shift in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights. 

 “Walter Cole and his club were influential in educating Oregonians through drag performance, an art form that is now widely accepted and celebrated in this country. This mainstream acceptance of drag performance contributed to a broader societal acceptance of gay rights,” Blumenauer said. “Further, Walter persevered through discrimination during the 1970s and kept the club active for over 50 years. This significant designation will help ensure this rich history is not forgotten and that Darcelle XV is memorialized for future generations.”  

 Darcelle XV is a nightclub and drag venue that has been owned and operated by Walter Cole since 1967 and is located in a three-story brick building completed in 1910. The club pre-dates the famous Stonewall uprising that is often regarded as the start of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.  

 The National Register of Historic Places celebrates districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that have had a significant impact on American history and culture.