The Ghosts of Stumptown bench is a cluster of stumps, painted white, and elevated from the ground on an array of small steel posts. The proportions of the stumps are carefully selected and arranged to make seats and tables for people of various shapes and sizes. Children scramble from stump to stump. Strangers share the bench to eat lunch. A couple plays chess. A person using a wheelchair joins a friend to converse over coffee. A group meets for casual business meeting. It becomes more than a bench; it becomes a gathering place.
Our inspiration for this bench came from the historical nugget that 1850’s Portland was experiencing rapid growth. To make room for new streets and buildings, large swaths of forest were cut down. With labor in short supply and with stump removal being an arduous process in those days, the remaining stumps were left in place, sometimes in the middle of the street. Concerned citizens painted the stumps white for safety. Today is a renewed period of development and though it may feel as if the city’s identity may be lost amid the rapid pace of change, this bench design reminds us that it is because of this growth throughout our history that Portland continues to be a vibrant place to live.