3229 NW Pittock Dr,
Portland, OR 97210, USA
The Pittock Mansion located in the wooded West Hills overlooking Portland was originally built in 1909 as a private home for London-born Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana. Henry was an avid outdoorsman and adventurer (he is credited to have been the first to ascend the summit of Mount Hood on July 11, 1857, with four friends) and so wanted to live in his beloved woods. Georgiana had other ideas and wished to continue to live in Portland where her friends were and enjoy her hobbies, such as gardening (Georgiana helped launch the Portland Rose Festival). She had no desire to live in the woods and was suffering from the after affects of a stroke. In order to tempt her Henry built the 46 room mansion to include space for their children and grandchildren to move in. The Pittock’s were elderly when they started construction of the building, Henry being in his 70’s, so the speculation is that he built this for his two children to have a roof over their heads, as they had not been as successful in life as he had been. When the home was completed in 1914 it included such modern conveniences as central vacuum system, intercoms, indirect lighting, an elevator, and a walk-in refrigerator.
Georgiana died in 1918 at the age of 72, and Henry in 1919 at 84. The Pittock family remained in residence at the mansion until 1958 when is was put on the market. It didn’t sell and was then seriously damaged by the Columbus Day Storm in 1962 caused the owners to consider demolishing the building. The community raised $75,000 in three months in order to help the city purchase the property. Seeing this popular support, and agreeing that the house had tremendous value as a unique historic resource, the City of Portland purchased the estate in 1964 for $225,000. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Our visit coincided with the annual holiday celebrations so the rooms were fitted out with a Christmas theme. Each room was beautifully decorated and they has also equipped the rooms with manikins dressed in costumes provided by the local opera company. It really got us into the holiday spirit. As we arrived at the Pittock Mansion it was shrouded in mist (all too typical of Portland in the winter months) so we scurried indoors to escape the damp and cold and we soon regaled with the holiday decorations and overall splendor of the interior of the house. Having arrived early we were lucky enough to escape the worst of the crowds. Beyond on the main house there is a delightful little gatehouse where the gamekeeper and his family lived. It was neat and cozy and we thought we’d quite like to live here, more so than the big house. By the time we had finished our tour of the houses and gone outside the weather had cheered up and the sun poked it’s cheery head through the throngs of the morning mist. This allowed us to finally enjoy the panoramic views of Portland with the high cascades in the background.
It was a real pleasure to spend an hour or two wandering through the Pittock Mansion and its gardens and would recommend this to anyone who want’s to explore one of Portland’s grander historical legacies.