PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Alberta Abbey is nearly 100 years old. But this historic church in Northeast Portland has new life as a cultural center for the community.

Now a landmark on the corner of Northeast Alberta and Mallory, the Alberta Abbey began as the Mallory Avenue Christian Church, which was founded in 1922 “to serve the community without distinction of person or race.”

Today, Alberta Abbey is a place where local creative artists of all kinds can shine.

“The vision is that we have a place that is full of life and lots of different community events, and that anyone in Portland is able to come in here and put on their own show,” said Leah Mocsy with Alberta Abbey.

Thursday night swing dancing at Alberta Abbey (Courtesy photo)

The building was completed in 1925. Over the years Alberta Abbey has been a home for everything from the YWCA to the Boys and Girls Club to PDX Jazz.

But it fell into disrepair. COVID shut things down. Although more work needs to be done, its 400-seat auditorium, downstairs ballroom and office spaces make it a valuable community asset. It’s already on the National Register of Historic Places.

“There really isn’t something like this in Northeast Portland,” Mocsy said.

The non-profit venue now hosts everything from jazz to hip-hop to comedy shows, spoken word programs and more. Much of the programming is curated by long-time music promoter Jerry “JP” Peterson, who is also a chef.

Peterson brings his Southern Grill Catering soul food to Alberta Abbey’s cafe.

“There’s message in the music and the artists, and they need to have places to express that,” Peterson told KOIN 6 News. “This is going to be, hopefully, the number one place in our neighborhood uniquely positioned to really support the artists.”

“The excitement level has been through the roof,” Mocsy said. “Everyone that comes into this space is, like, ‘Are you kidding me? I had no idea that this existed.'”

The hope is that one day all of Portland will known that Alberta Abbey is here — and ready.

The Alberta Abbey, 126 NE Alberta in Portland (Google Street View)