The Gordly-Burch Family House reDEVELOPMENT PROJECT
In 2016, The Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) launched an exciting project to buy and preserve the historic Gordly-Burch family home located at 4511 N. Williams Ave in Portland, Oregon.
PAALF’s hope is to develop the home into a cultural center which honors the contributions of the Gordly-Burch Family and the hundreds of other black families and organizations that have made an indelible and lasting impact on Portland—and create a space to gather in the historic heart of Oregon’s largest African American/Black community.
Gordly-Burch Family History
The property has remained in the Gordly-Burch family since its purchase in 1949. At that time uncensored racial prejudice and antisemitism were pervasive, including racist property laws that prevented African Americans from purchasing homes and redlining that prevented lending to purchase homes. The Gordly family, however, was able to purchase the home from the Jewish residents willing to help root the family in the neighborhood. The home remains an important piece of the family’s history and an important artifact of the racial justice movement from the 1950s to present day. The family members included Mrs. Beatrice and Mr. Fay Gordly, their children-- Avel Gordly, Faye (Gordly) Burch and Tyrone Gordly.
The Gordly-Burch family continues to be a symbol of self-determination in the Black community. The family has a long history of helping to advance community empowerment. Mr. Fay was a railroad worker with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids labor group a Mason and active with the A Phillip Randolph Movement, and Mrs. Beatrice was a long-time member of Mt. Olivet Baptist church and a Grand Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star.
Faye Marie Burch, previously Governor Barbara Roberts’ Senior Policy Advisor and later serving as the Advocate for Minority and Women- Businesses, She was a co-owner of five gift shops and a small food service restaurant at the Portland International Airport for twelve years while building her business as a Project Development consultant, business leader, public policy advisor, community activist. In that role Ms. Burch has coordinated over a billion dollars of opportunities for Minority and Women Businesses and job training programs. Ms. Burch served on the Board of Directors for the Urban League of Portland, MESO Microenterprise Program, the Portland Rose Festival Association that promotes large international tourism activities and brings millions of dollars of revenue to city businesses, and as Vice Chair of Self Enhancement, Inc., a non-profit youth program for at- risk youth, serving as a national model for the Center for Disease Control. Ms Burch received a Congressional appointment and served on a National Small Business Commission holding hearings in Alaska, Washington, California and Virginia. Her business has received several U.S. Small Business Administration awards and recognitions in the field of construction as a Woman of Vision and a Newsmaker.
The Honorable Avel Gordly was the first African American woman elected to the Oregon State Senate, representing a geographic area that included the predominantly Black area of North and Northeast Portland from 1991 until her retirement in 2009. Her legislative record included initiatives that focus on cultural competency in education, physical and mental health, and the administration of justice and the development of legislation that continues to benefit low-income communities of color, young children, the elderly, and other vulnerable Oregonians. She served on state committees including Joint Ways and Means, Education Policy, Trade and Economic Development, and Environmental Quality. She advocated for and then co-chaired former Governor John Kitzhaber’s Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Health and established the nationally recognized Governor’s Environmental Justice Task Force.