Failing Residence, 1892

The residence of Henry Failing, an early Portland resident who also served as mayor for three terms. This image comes from the Oregonian Souvenir book, 1892.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.3036

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.3036


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

25 thoughts on “Failing Residence, 1892

  1. Chuck: The house was located in what is now the center of downtown Portland. Sorry I can’t provide a more exact location, but perhaps someone else can.

  2. The Failings were a prominent Portland family. In the 60s I worked at the Parry Center on SE Powell, which had a residential cottage named after the Failings. I presume because they endowed it when it was originally built as an orphanage. (Other cottages were named after the Corbetts and the Meiers.) I also worked for the Post Office during school vacations and delivered mail to the Failing Building somewhere downtown.

  3. Fifth, Sixth, Salmon and Taylor They had a full block, one block south of the Corbett Mansion which also had a full block.

  4. In the book: “Classic Houses of Portland, Oregon 1850-1950” pages 105-107 they show several pictures of this house including some interior shots and the first floor plan.
    Great Book–I bought it at Costco several years ago.

  5. Here is an old photo that provides a bit more perspective. The Failing House is at the bottom left and we’re looking North up Fifth Avenue.

  6. Stella Failing was my landlady at the Stelwyn Apartments on St. Clair & W. Burnside. This was c. 1970. She was in her 90s at that time. She wore Chinese clothes a lot of the time. Really sweet woman.

  7. Look at the buildings in the block north of Pioneer Courthouse. The five story building on 5th between Alder and Morrison is Meier and Frank. To the left of this building is a tall (white with lots of windows) building. That is the part of Meier and Frank on the corner of Alder and Sixth. It was called the “annex.” The five story building was then razed and the twelve story building replaced it. (about 1915). Some time in the early 30s the rest of M & F was built on the corner of Alder and 6th. I miss the old M &F.

  8. Yeah…between 5th & 6th, Salmon & Taylor…you know…so “far away” from downtown at the time!
    Such a gorgeous house…built in the Second Empire tradition and razed in 1922…H.W. Corbett had originally built a Greek Revival style house there in 1854 that was brought around the Horn in 1852 and described as “the first elegant residence to have been built” in Portland, but it was replaced by the more imposing three-story Second Empire style structure in 1874. With its Corinthian style columns and porches with balustrades, this was the first time full Classical details were used in Portland. The layout was designed for entertaining!

  9. I think the Corbett home in 1854 was on Yamhill between 5th and 6th. It was razed in 1873 or so when they built their mansion on the same block. This would have been the next block north of the Failing mansion. I got this information from the book I referenced above. I believe it was the Pacific Building that was built on the north portion of the block, literally eclipsing the mansion. About 1936 the Corbett mansion came down and the bus depot occupied the site. Now the bus depot has been replaced by the Hilton towers.

  10. With all the density issues these days it is interesting to see to see
    a house that takes up a city block that belongs to a single family! Was it Mrs Failing who kept a cow for a pet that roamed her city block?

  11. No, I believe that was Mrs Corbett. The pictures of a single family house on one block reminds of the old movie, The Gay Sisters.

  12. Around 1923 or 24 the Corbett family home was sold and developed — the block on the south side of what is now Pioneer Square. There were articles in various magazines about the valuable “cow pasture” in the midst of downtown Portland. The value varied depending on when the article was mentioned. As I understand it she (Mrs. Corbett) liked to know her milk was fresh, and no one had watered it down or added stuff to it.

  13. In the early spring of 1923, the Failing daughters, Etta and Henrietta, moved a large purple beech tree from the grounds of this house to their home on Portland Heights (an existing house designed by Jacobberger & Smith near SW Montgomery Dr and Jackson St). The tree, planted as a sapling in 1881, stood the move well and was expected to survive. The downtown Failing house was demolished in Feb. 1924.

  14. Bob,
    I do believe you are not only correct, but also psychic, since this is the answer to a question on the photo posted the day after this one. 🙂

  15. the copper beech did not make it too long – there isn’t one there now, and no big stumps within neighbors’ recent memory. at least one of the failing sisters apparently spent the last years of her life in a considerably smaller bungalow off broadway. early proponent of down-sizing?

  16. I’m not in Portland so I can’t check it out in person, but there is today a large birch tree directly across from the house that the Misses Failings moved into on Montgomery Drive (via Google streetview). Accounts differ if the tree moved was a purple or copper beech. Could you check it out in person if you’re nearby?

    The sisters lived in the Jacobberger-designed house until 1930, when they both moved out to Dunthorpe, according to Henrietta’s obituary in the Oregonian.

  17. turms out the sister who lived out her life in a smaller house was mary, not these two. copper and purple beech are the same tree just different name; it is a var. of the european beech. there is a large beech across the street, but it is not a purpurea. there are copper beeches in other yards, but none are big enough to be 100+ years old.

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