Belluschi house

Step into the real “mid-century modernism” when Pietro Belluschi’s 1948 Willamette Heights house will be open to the public, Saturday July 30.

Saturday July 30, the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC) has the keys to five of Portland’s finest historic homes – and they’re inviting us in. The doors will be open to what was Belluschi’s own house as well as to four other fabulous 20th century Portland homes ranging from Arts and Crafts to Tudor Revival to Colonial Revival, and from 1900 to 1948.

The AHC tells us that the Belluschi House, completed in 1948, was “designed by famed Portland architect Pietro Belluschi in the mid-century modern style.” All true – but it’s interesting to remember that “mid-century modern” is our retrospective, perhaps nostalgic term for what was just good, progressive architecture back in the days when the future looked bright.

And in the case of the Belluschi house, it wasn’t designed for him but for his clients, the sophisticated and wealthy Dr. and Mrs. D.C. Burkes. But evidently, one warm spring day in 1973, he was visiting Portland from Boston (where he’d just retired after decades as dean of Boston’s MIT’s architecture school). He heard the house was on the market for a good price – and bought it spur of the moment. Belluschi moved back from Boston to Portland, and lived in the Willamette Heights home the rest of his life.

Boston to Portland is also the story of the two Colonial Revival homes on the AHC tour – Portland was known as the “Boston of the West” for its many Colonial Revival houses built in the early 20th century. (Check out Jack Bookwalter’s AHC lecture on this subject August 13.)

Proceeds of the tour benefit the Architectural Heritage Center’s education programs, advocacy efforts, and collections stewardship.

Heritage Homes Tour:
Saturday, July 30, 2011
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Members: $35 per person
General Public: $50 per person