John W. Kern Home, 1948

Here are two beautiful personal (non-professional) photos of the Captain John W. Kern home before it was demolished in 1949. The processor’s date stamped on the back is “August 4, 1948.” The mansion was located on SE Powell between 29th & 30th. Thanks to Bud Holland, who grew up in the neighborhood, for sending these great photos.

(Bud Holland)

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17 Responses to “John W. Kern Home, 1948”

  1. chuck Says:

    That magnificent house looks so lonely on its little hill. It’s so sad that people of that era didn’t appreciate those fine old homes.

  2. Edmund Says:

    I found several columns, or editorials in the Oregonian archives of that time (1949-1950) which bemoaned the impending destruction of the Kern mansion. There were several letters to the editor which also expressed outrage over the proposed destruction of this incredible old house. There were preservationists active, even back then, but we have more tools now to block the willy-nilly razing of our history.
    Kudos, and much thanks to Bud Holland for providing these wonderful pictures, and to Dan Davis for posting them!

  3. Ben Says:

    This is a wonderful image! I grew up on 37th and Francis and I’m always looking for old photos of the neighborhood. Does Bud Holland have anymore vintage pictures of the Powell area?

  4. Doug Klotz Says:

    Studying the Sanborns, this house was on the north side of Powell,where the bowling alley was now. There was space between it and Powell, approximately equal to the bowling alley parking lot. SE 30th and Cleveland field would be to the right in these photos, which would have been taken from Powell. What’s odd is that there appears to be no deterioration of the house itself. It hasn’t been tackily added on to, or subdivided, etc. I guess it just wasn’t modern enough for the new postwar era.

  5. Edmund Says:

    Hello Doug. Using careful measurements and a PhotoShop overlay of the Sanborn map Portland+1924-1928+vol.+10,+1925,+Sheet+1007 on a current satellite view of this area reveals that the footprint of the Kerns mansion was actually over the Foodmart section of the odd-shaped commercial building to the west of the bowling alley. The section of SE 30th just east of the mansion and shown on the Sanborn map between 5482 and 5483 has disappeared since then, and the entrance to Waverleigh Blvd from Powell Blvd is now a dead end, blocked by curbs and a bus bench. If you click the link in the header of this post you will see another picture and a fairly long discussion about the mansion and why it was removed.

  6. Bart Says:

    Would love to see photos of the house during its prime with its grounds still intact.

  7. Jim Says:

    Today’s Oregonian (July 1, 2011) has an interesting story regarding a modern day example of a homeowner saving his home from the developers’ wrecking ball. So far, the story of the Figo house at PSU has a happy ending. I guess the moral of the story, is if you threaten eminent domain action, don’t threaten a lawyer. ;-)

  8. Jim Says:

    Here’s a link to the story I referenced yesterday:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/06/in_downtown_portland_a_lawyer.html

  9. garagecata Says:

    I swear this is the house that sits at the south eastern end of the Ross Island Bridge.

  10. Edmund Says:

    Sorry Garagecat, but other than the fact that both mansions were on Powell Blvd (some thirty blocks apart and on opposite sides of the street) and both had a round three story tower, they are quite different. The Poulsen mansion to which you are refering is fortunately still in existance, though it once had a near mirror twin mansion directly across the street. Here is a link to a previously post about it on Dan Haneckow’s CafeUnknown blog- http://www.cafeunknown.com/2007/01/had-i-have-known-of-its-existence-this.html

  11. Kirk J. Poole Says:

    This house and the Clinton Kelly house (3500 block Gladstone) are 2 of the worst losses in the neighborhood I come from. Add to that as well, the original 187x IOOF building that was replaced by Friendship Center on Holgate that was torn down in about 1970. So much that was lost.

  12. tina aka forrestina vintage Says:

    Just a beauty. Are there any photos of the house that still overlooks the Willamette River off Hwy 99 on the east end of the Ross Island Bridge? I don’t know the name or history but have always admired the house.

  13. Edmund Says:

    @Tina-unless it’s a house I don’t know about, that would be the Poulsen house mentioned above(see link) in my previous post.
    Cheers, Edmund

  14. portlandhistorygeek Says:

    Kirk J. Poole (or anyone with info)
    I…Partly…grew up west of 3500 block and Gladstone Street in Portland. And ironically, a tad bit earlier…I lived as a young child right behind the bowling alley of the kern house. (now the Clinton Kelly Condos..then the Clinton Kelly Apartments) I have done numerous searches and can’t find a reference (picture, or anything) that matches your memory regarding the Clinton Kelly House. More details, please, pictures, whatever. I went to school at Grout Elementary and remember what you are referencing (Re: Friendship Health Center) It was a beautiful building. In addition, my mother is born and bred Oregonian. She moved to Texas…where I was unfortunately born…but moved back when I was WAY young. We moved into the Kingston Hotel. When we first arrived back (I was young but have confirmed memories of this) Any Kingston Hotel info from the 60s would be appreciated. I hate to say that it wasn’t NEARLY as polished as it is now. I have pics from that time.

  15. Edmund Says:

    Here’s link to a pic of the Clinton Kelly house on his Powell Valley road homestead. This house was moved downhill to the west on the property by his son-in-law Capt Kern when he built his mansion. HTH http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/65580

  16. portlandhistorygeek Says:

    Thanks Edmund. I know this photo, but your info says that the house was moved west. Kirk J. Poole referenced a house at 3500 Gladstone which would place it south of Powell and ever so slightly East, I think. Maybe a memory error? I went to Cleveland High, so was the house in this photo moved to the Cleveland location?
    Thanks for such a quick response!

  17. Ken Hawkins Says:

    Mention of the Poulson house upthread draws an interesting coincidence: it was built in Kern’s Addition to East Portland (platted ca. 1872), a venture of Captain John W. Kern and his wife Sarah – of the Kern mansion fame.

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