"Milky Way" Building Re-Opens After Year-Long Remodel

Exterior of Propstra Forest Grove Creamery BuildingIn its over 100-year history, the Propstra Forest Grove Creamery building on Pacific’s Forest Grove Campus has lived many lives: as a garage, a grocery store, a concert venue and a creamery.

Also known as the Milky Way, the longtime home of the Outdoor Pursuits program on 21st Avenue recently went through a major renovation to make the space more usable for the university’s outdoor program and the undergraduate outdoor leadership major. The renovation was completed in November.

The $1.2 million project provided needed seismic upgrades to the building, which was built around 1920. The majority of the interior was gutted, and the space was redesigned to house a state-of-the-art classroom, a large kitchen and expanded office and storage space for Outdoor Pursuits.

Sarah Morse, Pacific’s construction project manager, said that great care was taken to preserve as much of the historic features of the building as possible, including the brick walls and roof, while giving Outdoor Pursuits a purpose-built space. The building has been designated as a local landmark by the Forest Grove Historic Landmarks Board.

The Forest Grove Creamery building has a storied history. A creamery was first located on the site in the 1890s before the Palace Garage took it over. A 1919 fire destroyed much of the city’s downtown core, including the original building except for its east and west brick walls. The current structure originally housed another garage before the Forest Grove Creamery moved in.

When the creamery closed in the mid-1970s, the building served multiple purposes, including a co-op grocery store. The building was leased by the university in the early 1990s and became the Milky Way, a concert, event and movie venue that was a destination for students on Friday and Saturday nights. It also housed a coffee shop and offices for what was then known as the Outback program.

The building was gifted to the university in 2003 by the estate of Helen Propstra, whose parents ran the Forest Grove Creamery.

READ MORE: During the 1990s and 2000s, the Milky Way was Pacific University's go-to nightspot for live music and movies and the place to get a cup of coffee during the day. Read More about the history of the Milky Way as a concert venue.

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023