A somewhat daunting structure, the Jacob Kamm House may qualify as
the city's first real mansion. It has dramatic quoined corners, arched and elongated windows with keystones, and expressive baroque dormers in the mansard roof. Alone on a dead-end street, it seems to look reproachfully at an area developed in a hodge-podge manner.
* Architect Justus Krumbein arrived in America from Germany just a year before designing this home. He later designed the Bickel Block (now part of the U. of O.'s Portland Center), as well as Oregon's original state capitol building, which burned down in the 1930s.
Properly termed a "French Second Empire" structure (and the oldest of this type in Oregon), the inspiration for the layout of this home can be found in a period of jingoistic fervor in France in the mid-19th century. French architects rushed about restoring and adding on to national monuments in a style that was a bit self-important. Fortunately, the Kamm House avoids most of the excesses of that era and remains restrained and impressive, even substituting wood in lieu of masonry.
Jacob Kamm was a Swiss immigrant who was previously an engineer on Mississippi River steamboats. This home was constructed for him on a 13-acre site at the location of modern-day Lincoln High School. It was moved to make way for the school in 1950, and nine years later, was named one of Oregon's "ten most significant designs" by an Oregon centennial committee.