Dean's Beauty Salon and Barber Shop

Dean\'s Hair and Beauty Salon
Dean's Hair and Beauty Salon

Caitlyn Ewers, Architectural Resources Group, courtesy Oregon State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
213-215 NE Hancock Street, Portland, Oregon
Commerce, Ethnic Heritage - Black
Listed in the National Register – Reference number 100007455
Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2022 due to its connection with African American business in the aftermath of the Second World War. Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop is one of the last extant Black-owned barber shops or salons established in Portland’s Lower Albina neighborhood during the postwar period, and is one of the oldest continuously-operating Black-owned barber shop or salon in Portland.             

Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, established by husband and wife Benjamin and Mary Rose Dean in 1956, was among the many barber shops and beauty parlors opened in Lower Albina during the postwar era. The Deans purchased the property at 213-215 NE Hancock Street, two lots east of their home, and engaged local white architect Jack P. Stuhl to complete the architectural plans for their combination barber shop and beauty salon. Due to custom or local regulation, the male-oriented barber shop and the female-oriented salon had to be physically separated: there was no interior door to provide access between the two spaces.  

The Deans were among the wave of African American in-migrants who moved to the Portland area in the early 1940s, in search of opportunities in the city’s defense production industries. Benjamin Dean worked as a welder in the Kaiser Shipyards, while Mary Rose Dean operated a salon out of
the family’s home. Following the end of World War II and the closure of the Pacific Northwest’s shipyards, the Deans purchased a home at 121 NE Hancock Street, in the Eliot neighborhood of Lower Albina, and Benjamin Dean took a position as a janitor with the Federal Reserve.44 Like many African Americans who remained in Portland after the war’s conclusion, Dean was underemployed and dissatisfied with the menial positions that most whiteowned and white-operated businesses forced on Black employees. In search of an opportunity to improve his family’s financial position and his own professional independence, he decided to follow his wife into the barbering and beauty industry. Barbering was stable, would allow him to work within the Black community, and would grant him the financial and professional autonomy that was denied to him in white-controlled industries. In the early 1950s, Dean enrolled in a local barbering college, attending daytime classes and working evening shifts at the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, Mary Rose Dean resumed her salon business in the family’s new home in Lower Albina. 

From the 1970s through today, Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop has experienced successive changes to the surrounding community, changes to the urban fabric of Lower Albina, and changes in Black hair care and styling trends. Benjamin and Mary Rose Dean owned and operated the barber shop and beauty salon together until Mary Rose Dean’s death in 1979, at which time operation of the salon was transferred to the couple’s daughter, Gloria Ella Tims. The site is still used today as a hair salon and barbershop.

Last updated: September 23, 2022