NE 15th & Tillamook, 1959

The discussion of the CM Forbes home from last week veered over to this home, and generated so many comments,  so it’s time to make it an official entry. VP Fan Roxanne grew up only two blocks from this amazing house and remembers it well. It was situated on the northwest corner of NE 15th and Tillamook Street. She believes it was torn down in the 1960s; a nondescript apartment building is on the spot now.

(University of Oregon Libraries)

44 thoughts on “NE 15th & Tillamook, 1959

  1. The center tower and porch would be a great design for a cookie jar or tea tin.

    This house looks pretty well maintained when you consider it would be torn down shortly after this picture was taken. I wonder what the back story is. I also wonder if Marion Dean Ross knew of its upcoming demo (if the picture was taken near the date the house was demolished). A lot of his work shown on U of O’s digital libraries is of historic buildings facing demolition or in the process of being demolished.

    I’m glad he left such a fantastic photographic record.

  2. I would place the demolition in 1962 or 63. I was in the 7th or 8th grade when it was torn down. I used to imagine all of the rooms that must’ve been inside that wonderful home.
    Roxanne, the house at Couch Park. I had a friend who was the night watchman when it was first moved there and got to go inside and see it. Another loss to the city.

  3. What a great house! Is the structure to the left part of the house, or the neighboring house? My wife and I lived a block away at the Bowman apartments about 10 years ago. Some of the older apartment buildings in the area are very nice. We loved the neighborhood. I have looked through some of Marion Dean Ross’ photos and have wondered what the story was behind assembling that archive. I, too am thankful that he left a record, and in color too!

  4. Building artifacts from this house have been shown a few time in exhibits at the Architectural Heritage Center.

    Here is info about the house taken from an exhibit panel:
    BUILT: 1894 DEMOLISHED: 1965
    Marcus Delahunt immigrated to Portland from Ireland in the late 1880s, working as a commercial lumber agent throughout the Northwest. In 1892 he purchased property at NE 15th and Tillamook and a few years later built an exuberant Queen Anne style home with a distinctive two story turret for his family.

    Delahunt built a number of houses in the Irvington neighborhood with fine interior details to complement the Shingle Style and Arts & Crafts exteriors he favored. By the 1920s, he was building houses in other northeast and west-side neighborhoods, even serving as a broker for home loans. Delahunt died in 1931 at the age of 65, after which his family remained in the house until 1964.

    The home was then acquired by a developer who resisted offers to buy the house. He wanted to replace the landmark home with a new apartment building. In an effort to save the home, George McMath worked to persuade the Portland City Council to adopt an historic buildings ordinance, which they ultimately did, but not until after the Delahunt House – and others on an initial list of 75 historic buildings to be protected – were demolished. The new owner sold much of the house’s ornamentation to eager salvagers, including Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan who saved several pieces of the front façade.”

  5. My first impression is that the structure on the viewer’s left is the garage… perhaps with a ballroom on top. 🙂

  6. I know that sometime in the past I have seen a much earlier photo of this house. The large addition to the left was not there and the area over the front porch was an open balcony. It is going to drive me crazy until I remember where I saw the photo.

  7. Yes, what a beautiful home and yes, again, how wonderful to see it in color! So, I guess it’s now time for another memorable walk, a stroll thru the Irvington-Alameda district we all know to be a quiet, lovely neighborhood, nestled between 15th or so, up to and around 38th or 39th, between Schuyler to Knott Street and all the way over to Freemont! What lovely examples of early Portland architecture and design and to see so many treated with such love, care and attention, is yet, another topping on the cake! Ah yes…color!

    My father grew up in the Alameda district back in the 20’s and 30’s, his brother, my favorite uncle, later raised his family in the area and I, much later of course, found a small bungalow in the Irvington area in the late 70’s and early 80’s, until, let’s just say, a marital disagreement, forced me to change my address!

    The number of homes in the area to mention and recall is endless, but to see so many of them still standing and so well cared for is a both a tribute to the architects, the neighborhood and to all those who appreciate them to this day!

    I’ll just mention The Gustav Freiwald House on 15th and Schuyler, now, a Victorian B&B house, to start the ball rolling! Okay, some may complain that this beautiful home is now a commercial business, but, considering the alternative, it could have been thoughtlessly destroyed and replaced with some piece of garbage du-jour of the 60’s and 70’s…right? And please, I’m trying to start an ugly or opinioned discourse of what or who (or whom) belongs where; I’m just saying that…a bride doesn’t walk down the aisle in a beautifully designed white gown, hand stitched with French lace and satin, carrying a bouquet of plastic flowers from Woolworths or Newberry’s, nor does one go to all the trouble restoring a classic 9ft. concert grand Steinway and then finishing it off by replacing ONE of its eighty-eight original ebony or ivory keys with a fake reproduction!

    Let’s try our best to save what examples that remain, handle them with care and admiration, applaud and give our thanks to those who have the ability to restore and maintain these lovely homes and buildings, and pay homage to those lost, neglected, unappreciated and ultimately demolished structures of days gone by. (“Hey, boss, I got a great idea…let’s tear down that ol’ eyesore, that ol’ Pittock Mansion dump, up there on the hill, and build a great set of condo’s…it’s gotta a great view and we could make a lotta money in the process!”) Sorry, but the mere suggestion of that idea would cause Henry to roll over in his grave, creating such an underground eruption that it would shake the entire city from one end to the other!!!

    And now, after lunch, who’s up for a little run over to Ladd’s Addition? The layout alone will be enough to tickle your fancy and to bring a smile to your face! Oh, such unconventional creativity! What a treat!

    Jim K

  8. …SORRY…NOT trying…NOT, NOT, NOT trying to start an ugly or opinioned discourse…sorry, sorry… please accept my apologies!

    Not noticing the “not” until after I posted my comment, not only shocked me but embarrassed me to realize that I had let such an important “not” slip thru my fingers! It was NOT my intention! Shame on me…naughty me! I’ll go and stand in the corner now.

    Jim K

  9. Yes, it is a pity such a distinctive and interesting structure was lost to the
    rubble-pile of history. especially since the building was in such great shape and very saveable.
    There was another very interesting Eastlake Victorian close by at 1817 NE 15th St. that looks like it could have been a first-cousin to the Forbes, or Mason residences. It wasn’t perhaps quite as over-the-top with the details, but 1817 shared several “traits” with those houses.
    Amoung those features; curved fancy-cut shingle walls on the second floor, a large segmental arched window with stained-glass, elaborate medalions galore, tri-pane dormers, etc.
    The picture of the house that I saw shows it in its later years, perhaps just before demolition and it appears that weather, time, and human occupation may have robbed it of some details, such as the spindle on top of the tower, or altered others.
    If I can find the source of the picture I’ll post the link.

  10. I am really surprised they would tear down such a beautiful house, and to put up apartment buildings, that is a shame!

  11. Edmund-If you find a photo of that house please post it. There was another one down the street from this house but across the street. It was torn down shortly after this one was torn down. I’m sure it’s the one you mention. I’d love to see a photo of it, too.

  12. Will do chuck, if I can figure out the source, which I could provide a link to. There were pictures of several interesting Victorians, including two more of the Marcus Delahunt house, and some that are still standing. It was an interesting site, and I’d like to check their terms of use, and if we might use their photo for discussion.

  13. I may be remembering incorrectly but I think I read someplace that there WAS a plan to tear down the Pittock Mansion that fell thru’. Can you imagine?

  14. Roxanne…you remembered correctly…there WAS a plan…

    Ah yes, I remember all the hubbub about Portland buying this “piece of trash”! There were those who thought it was nothing more than a total waste of time, not to mention a total waste of money…it was so nice to prove them wrong! Oh yes, it caused quite a stir way back then!

    There are many, many sites out there filled with wonderful information and photos, but here’s a little tidbit of info:

    Peter Gantenbein, Pittock’s grandson, who had been born in the house, put the estate on the market in 1958 and was unsuccessful in selling it. Extensive damage caused by the Columbus Day Storm in 1962 caused the owners to consider demolishing the beautiful building. The community, however, wanted to preserve the home, so they gathered together to raise over $75,000 in THREE months in order to help the City of Portland purchase the home and the property. Seeing this popular support, and agreeing that the house did indeed, have tremendous value as a unique historic resource, the City of Portland purchased the estate in 1964 for $225,000. It was opened to the public in 1965 following many, many months of restoration. I can remember my first trip up the hill to take a peek at this place…WOW!

    And Roxanne, you’re absolutely right…”can you imagine?” Oh, and thanks for that recent Delahunt link!

    Jim K

  15. I found this classified ad in The Oregonian, 11/28/65:

    “100 YR OLD Victorian house, bring your tools and buy what you want. Old door casings, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, everything and anything. 2 antique frplc fronts, decorative porch posts, etc. Sunday only. NW corner of NE 15th and Tillamook. MO5-6892.”

  16. To Dan Davis…

    What a find!

    And what a typical way to spend one’s Thanksgiving weekend, on Sunday, fighting over who gets dibs on the last slice of leftovers!

    MO5-6892? Hmmmmm…and for only $14.95, one could find out who owns this active phone number…it’s still listed as a land line in Gresham today! Gee…I wonder…after 46 years….nah…I doubt it…

    I wonder where everything eventually ended up…I can only hope that it was “put to good use” and given a “new home” to be enjoyed and cared for! Yes, EVERYTHING MUST GO…ONE DAY ONLY…ALL SALES FINAL…how sad.

    Jim K

  17. Hey Chuck, I found it! I had this site in my favorites and somehow lost it.
    I have a hunch that this house may have had the same designer as the
    Forbes, Mason, and Spaulding houses, or at least have been inspired by them. Notice the the porch railings. I suspect they originally had open space beneath the balusters as in the other houses mentioned but were altered by the addition (perhaps by the owner) of the semi-round insets below the balusters. Hope you enjoy the link. I hope this is the house you remembered.
    Cheers, Edmund

  18. Thanks, Edmund. That IS the house I remember. Two wonderful old houses just down NE 15th from each other. Both torn down within a relatively short time of each other. I was sad to see them both both destroyed and then to be replaced with cheap ugly apartment buildings. I wonder if the one that replaced this house is still standing. It looked like it wouldn’t last 10 years.
    Thanks for posting, Edmund!

  19. My pleasure Chuck. Photographer Ben Maxwell took a lot of pictures of old victorians around the same time in 1962, bless his soul. Several of them are in his collection at the site I linked to. While many have since been razed, I was delighted to find that a couple of very interesting houses on 39th (do I have to say Cesar Estrada Chavez Blvd?) still are standing. One is on 39th and SE Taggart, and the other is on 39th and SE Martins. If you love unusual old houses like I do, they’re worth checking out.
    Cheers, Edmund

  20. I seem to recall a house being torn down in the mid 60’s that had a fantastic copper dome, not as fancy as the center dome of this house , but it was directly across Morrison on a Presbyterian church property that’s been there for many years. I believe the Brainard house is on the historical registar, this one would have been directly to the South side of the street. I know there was and OJ or Oregonian articlie about the demolition of it…I think it was about 1966 or 67. I think its about 54th and Morrison. It was a beautiful house. Its a shame it didn’t survive.

  21. Chris, did this house happen to have an “onion”, or Moorish style dome?
    I ask because I remember an article in the Oregonian around that time period showing a fairly large old house with an onion domed tower, a large entrance porch flanked by oval windows and a mansard style roof that was scheduled to be demolished. Looking at a online Sanborn map (courtesy of the public library) Date 1908-Dec.1950, Volume 9, 1924-Nov.1950, Sheet 931 shows the outline of the Brainard house, the splendid italianate kitty corner from there, and presumably the outline of the house you remember. I’ll keep my eye out for any pics of it.

  22. I have found two references to the Brainerd House but they are opposite each other. Oregon Digital Library has one labeled as that at 5332 SE Morrison, but the Classic Houses of Portland, OR 1859-1950 gives an address at 722 SE 54 which is the house kitty corner. Which one is actually right?

  23. Thanks for posting the link Roxanne. I have long wondered what the interior of this house looks like. If I won the Lottery and bought this house I would restore the roof of the tower like original and add back the shutters, and iron cresting. I’m glad this wonderful old house is still around.

  24. @ Edmond:

    Yep, it did have an “onion” dome, as you put it, and as I recall it was and italiante style house. Don’t know too much beyond that. I stumbled across the article by accident a couple years ago when I was looking for articles about the demolition of the Inman house.

  25. Thank you Chris. It may be easier to track down a picture confirming a detail like that. If you ever run across the article again please let us know. This must have been an impressive neighborhood back in its day with all those grand houses kitty-corner across from each other

  26. Very true Roxanne, you can see very little of this house from the street, but by using Google maps satellite view you can see the form of the house pretty well. Curious house. It seems to have started life as a pretty standard Italianate, but it has that interesting mansard style tower.
    Unseen except by satellite are an extensive veranda and additions more typical of Queen Anne. The large arch top window is interesting as well.

  27. I wonder if the tower might have been a pump? I have noticed a lot of similar sort of things in older houses, maybe it was just incorporated into the house? I’m sure most everyone who was not downtown in that era had wells.

  28. I think I found a photo from the mid 1890’s that has a picture of both the brainard house and the others that were at approx 54th and SE Morrison.

    I’ve seen a bigger print of it, I just can’t remember where, but the Brainard house is definately in the background to the left.

  29. The house on the right is still there also. The Oregon Digital Library had that one listed as the Brainard house, 5332 SE Morrison. I know the Brainards had two houses. Could they have built them kitty corner from each other?

  30. Information from the Oregon Historical sites files show BOTH houses at 54th & Morrison listed as the Brainard house. Apparently the two houses were built opposite each other.

  31. Thank you Chris! It was the Doud house that I saw in the Oregonian all those years ago. I could remember that distinctive dome, so unlike any other house in Portland. It’s great that our minds and lives of experience can meet here in synergistic fashion and solve mysteries!

  32. Too bad that that seems to be the only existing photo of that house. I cannot find ANYTHING else about it.

  33. Pingback: Edgar Oscar Doud House, 1966 « Vintage Portland

  34. Wow first time I’ve seen this photo. I bought the house (2127/2129) pictured in the photo next to this and have been spending the last two years restoring, it’s a shame I have to live next to an ugly apartment building instead of this!

  35. torn down for a ugly highrise apartment what dissgrace to our cournty it would of been a great landmark home
    thats when homes where built good unlike now a days queenanne homes are cool

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