Where many people shrug their shoulders over progress, historian and architect William J. Hawkins feels the pain of loss. “We’ve lost so much history,” he laments as he thumbs through photos of the great mansions of Portland that have been torn down. “And,” he adds, “we’ve lost so much beauty.”
2 of 8
Hawkins was one of five jurors who picked the 10 Greatest Houses of Portland. He, along with Cathy Galbraith and Jack Bookwalter—all three historic preservationists—pushed to include in the top 10 one house that had been demolished “to stand for all the other great houses we’ve lost,” as Galbraith put it. That pick was easy: the great Knapp House, mostly likely designed by Justis Krumbein.
But we also asked Hawkins, the author of the definitive book, Classic Houses of Portland, to show us a few of Portland’s other lost gems.
3 of 8
Fechheimer House, 1880
Italianate Albert H. Jordan, architect
One of a quartet of homes that once graced the South Park Blocks near where the Ione Plaza tower rises today, the Fechheimer House was a showcase of the then-popular Italianate style.
4 of 8
Ralph and Isaac Jacobs Houses, 1880
Italianate Warren H. Williams, architect
Identical but reversed in plan, these two houses—also located on the South Park Blocks—influenced numerous other soon-to-be-built homes during Portland’s early railroad boom years.
5 of 8
Forbes House, 1887
Once located on the northwest corner of SW Vista and Park Ave where Portland’s only co-op now rises, the Forbes House hails from the most decorative period in American architecture, drawing on every imaginable style, including the Tibetan-inspired finials.
6 of 8
Snow House, 1891
Whidden and Lewis
Once located at NW Johnson and 20th, this house was designed by the firm that most defined Portland of this era. Though it may appear simple from a distance, the home is an ingenious mix of diverse materials and asymmetries unified by careful balance.
7 of 8
Inman House, 1926
This highly ornate Queen Anne Victorian stood where the Ross Island Bridgehead sits today.
8 of 8
Dr. Merle Moore House, 1948
One of the exquisite suite of Portland homes included in Jo Stubblebine’s 1953 monograph, “The Northwest Architecture of Pietro Belluschi,” this house, once located at 2020 SW 15th Ave, was a modest masterpiece clad with cedar on the exterior and paneled in clear hemlock on the interior.
“I loved the house, but I have a family that needs space,” said Judith Holmes, who purchased the home in 1996 for $775,000 and tore it down to build a 5,000-square-foot McMansion mashup of motifs ranging from Greek Revival to Shingle Style. Of the Belluschi house historian William Hawkins described as having a “great tailored clarity,” Holmes’ designer, Leon Burry-Trice, said, “You walked through this house and found yourself saying, ‘So what?’”