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Oregon: Portland – The Pittock Mansion

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 effects 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 was 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 a 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 it 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 had 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 splendour of the interior of the house. Having arrived early we were lucky enough to escape the worst of the crowds.

Beyond the main house, there is a delightful little gatehouse where the gamekeeper and his family lived. It was neat and cosy 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 its 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 wants’s to explore one of Portland’s grander historical legacies.

Planning your visit to the Pittock Mansion

Location: 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210, USA
Website:https://pittockmansion.org/
Telephone:T:(503) 823-3623
Hours:

Regular Hours
10am–4pm
opens at noon on Tuesdays

Summer Hours (June–Labor Day)
10am–5pm
opens at noon on Tuesday

Admission Fees

Adults: $12
Seniors (65+): $10
Youth (ages 6–18): $8
Children (under 6): FREE

Getting to and around Portland

Portland is a very easy city to get to. The Portland International airport is located on the east side of the city and is served by numerous airlines including some low-cost carriers. It is a relatively small airport and easy to navigate get around. There is an extension of the Portland light rail service that is close to the airport that will take you right into the heart of the city.

Getting to Portland by car is also easy with major freeways running from the North, South (Interstate 5) and the East (Interstate 84). Seattle is about 175 miles north of Portland and San Francisco is 640 miles to the south.

There is an excellent public transport system serving the Portland metro area, including light rail and busses. It is also a walkable city, so when we visit we usually like to walk as much as possible.

Best time to visit Portland

The best time to visit Portland is from June to August, when consistently warm weather allows the city’s outdoorsy culture to thrive. Plus, summer is when the city’s roses (especially at the International Rose Test Garden) are in full bloom. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so you’ll have to book at least a couple months in advance to ensure availability and the best room rates. If you’re looking to score a bargain on a hotel, consider a winter trip. Chilly temperatures repel sightseers, but Portland’s proximity to Mount Hood makes it a great destination for winter sports enthusiasts. No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find a variety of niche local events to choose from.

Where to stay?

1. SOCIETY HOTEL

The Society Hotel is located in the heart of Portland’s China Town. The building was built in 1881 by the Seaman’s Friends Society as a safe haven for sailors.  Several years after The Seaman’s Friends Society opened as a hotel, the business began to dwindle, and the building was eventually rented to the Portland Hospital for one year.  In 2013 a group of entrepreneurs purchased the building with the intention of revitalizing it into something lasting and that would have a positive impact on the area.

The hotel is located in Chinatown and is only a 10-minute walk from the fashionable Pearl District and 20 minutes from the main downtown areas.

2. HI PORTLAND NORTHWEST

We recently stayed at the HI Portland Northwest hostel during a short visit to Portland. I had booked us into a private room which was fantastic with double bay windows on two sides of the room.

Apparently, this is considered the 3rd best hostel in the world and you can see why. The common facilities, from the lounge to the community kitchen are wonderful. There is also a cafe that serves great food and craft beers!

The hostel is located only a few minutes from the popular Pearl District and other shopping areas

3. THE VINTAGE HOTEL

The Hotel Vintage – a Kimpton Hotel is located at 422 SW Broadway, on the corner of Broadway and Washington. The hotel is centrally located in the heart of downtown Portland – just 6 blocks from the waterfront and in the heart of downtown Portland’s shopping, dining, entertainment and business district. One block away is Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square and access to MAX, our convenient light rail system. Pioneer Place Mall is located one block away and has 70 speciality shops. Close to several theatres, Portland’s art museum and restaurants.

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