Joseph Shemanski, Pioneer Jewish Merchant and Philanthropist of Portland Oregon

Joseph Shemanski

Values Codes: I-E-L-P


Joseph Shemanski was born in Poland to Markus and Jeanette Szmanski, in 1869.


Portland, Oregon

Joseph Shemanski came to Portland, Oregon, in 1888, at the age of 19.

To make a living, Joseph Shemanski sold clocks, rugs, lace curtains and washtub ringers – door-to-door.

Portland Oregon at the turn of the 20th century, Vintage Postcard.

Portland Oregon at the turn of the 20th century, Vintage Postcard.

Joseph Shemanski opened his first store on corner of Southwest Third Avenue and Taylor Street

In 1930, Shemanski built an eight story building on Southwest 10th Avenue to house his Eastern Department Store.

Eastern Outfitters Store, Portland, OR

Eastern Outfitters Store, Portland, OR

Shemanski’s Eastern Outfitting Store eventually had 53 stores along the West Coast.

Eastern Outfitting Co of Portland, OR

Joseph Shemanski was the first to introduce installment buying on the West Coast.



Joseph Shemanski founded the hospitality committee of the Portland Chamber of Commerce.

Shemanski served on the board of the Waverly Baby Home.

He was also active in the Oregon Prisoner’s Aid Society.

In 1926,  Joseph Shemanski donated to Portland the ‘Shemanski Fountain’ (Rebecca at the Well) in South Park.

Simanski Fountain of Portland

Simanski Fountain of Portland


Joseph Shemanski served as President of Congregation Ahavat Sholom

He later served on the Board President of Congregation Beth Israel where a chapel is named in his honor.

Temple Beth Israel, Portland, OR, Vintage Postcard

Temple Beth Israel, Portland, OR, Vintage Postcard

He was also a supporter of the Portland Hebrew School.

Joseph Shemanski was honored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.


Joseph Shemanski died in 1951



Oregon Jewish Life, January 2015  a link


Gladys Sturman is our Curator for this Joseph Shemanski Virtual Exhibit.

We need a picture of Joseph Shemanski.

Any more personal information or pictures of the members of the families will be appreciated.

Be sure to “Share” this with friends on Facebook so they get to enjoy our virtual museum.