St. Nicholas has its roots in a tiny Orthodox church founded in 1890 by a Russian-Aleut to serve a dozen ethnically diverse members. It was built at what is now SE 20th and Belmont. A service at the chapel was performed by St. Sebastian Dabovich of San Francisco in 1895. St. Tikhon of Moscow made a hierarchical visit about a decade later.
Beginning in 1927, a church on SE Mallory Avenue was used for worship and the Orthodox parish was incorporated. They adopted St. Nicholas the Wonderworker as their patron saint and remained under the Russian patriarchate until the Orthodox Church of America was granted self-governance. The congregation met there for the next 50 years.
From 1978 to 1981, the congregation had a temporary home at St. Clare Roman Catholic Church in Southwest Portland while they were waiting for their new church to be built on nearby Dolph Court. The St. Nicholas parish hall was constructed first and was used for the services during the next 15 years. The church building was completed in 1996. The interior iconography is a work in progress.