Architect: Foulkes & Hogue, 1914
The uncontested kingpin of homes in the Portland area is the
French Renaissance Pittock Mansion. Built by Henry Pittock, publisher of the daily newspaper The Oregonian, the cost of the mansion is uncertain, but given the five years of construction and the imported woods, stones, and marble, the figure must have been colossal. (While on the topic of large numbers, it should be mentioned that Henry Pittock moved into the house with his wife Georgiana when he was seventy-nine years old.)
One thousand feet above the city, the mansion, with its reinforced-concrete walls with cut Bellingham sandstone facing, resembles a combination of a chateau and a fortress. Because of its "remote" location, transportation to and from the house, as well as maintenance of the home could have been a problem.
* Architect Edward Foulkes (1874-1967) was an Oregon native who studied at both M.I.T. and the Ã‰cole des Beaux-Arts. He went on to work with Cass Gilbert (whose famed Woolworth Building was being erected at the same time as the Pittock Mansion) before starting his own firm.
To the east, the idea was to have the two main wings of the house meet where the large drawing room looks out on the view to the east between two turrets. Dormers and the turrets break up the red-tiled roofline above the terrace, scrolled cornices and ornamented entablatures fill the middle space, and a stone balustrade greets the pedestrian at the bottom.
Inside, marble stairs with bronze rails flow upstairs, and beautiful paneling, friezes, crystal chandeliers, and oak or marble floors vie for your attention. A favorite area is the round Turkish smoking room, where Henry Pittock would perhaps go to enjoy watching others smoking exotic tobaccos; Pittock himself did not smoke. Upstairs are three suites and a gallery appointed in a smug Edwardian sumptuousness that never fails to impress the gawking hoi polloi traipsing through the mansion. (Don't get me wrong, I gawk and traipse with the best of them.)
* The mansion's third floor housed the sizeable servants' quarters.
This home fell into serious disrepair until 1964, when news leaked out that the building was to be sold to a private developer and razed. Private, city, and federal funds were pooled and a year later, the Portland Parks Bureau had itself a mansion and its 46-acre estate. (The groundswell of grassroots support to "save the Pittock" provided momentum for the 1965 derailing of the Ash Street Ramp project, a roadwork that would have wiped out historic buildings in the Skidmore Historic District.)
In 2006, maintenance of the building was transferred to a private group dedicated to restoring the mansion's eroding sandstone details and keeping Portland's most famous residence in the public eye.
* The Printer's Devil: Henry Lewis Pittock (1835-1919) was born in England, and his family moved to Pittsburgh while he was still a child. Henry came to Portland as a sixteen-year-old printer's "devil," an employee lower than an apprentice. If there was a job nobody wanted to do, the master printer would cry out, "The devil take it!" (Henry would then get moving.) Eight years later, Henry gained control of The Oregonian in lieu of back wages owed him. He converted the paper to a daily and went on to become one of Portland's wealthiest and most influential private citizens. His home is evidence that the devil's work can sometimes pay off.Less Text