Henry Pittock came to Oregon in 1853 at the young age of 19. Starting out penniless, he eventually attained ownership of the Oregonian newspaper, with investments in real estate, banking, railroads, steamboats, sheep ranching, silver mining, and the pulp and paper industry.
The Pittocks began planning and designing their dream home in 1909, and the Mansion was completed in 1914. The Pittock family lived in the mansion until 1958, when it was put on the market. Unfortunately, a severe storm in 1962 caused extensive damage to the Mansion, and concerned citizens convinced the City of Portland to restore the Mansion and convert it into a historical monument and park.
Today, I took the kids to see it. It’s quite a place. The building itself was impressive for its time, with a central vacuum system, intercoms, and indirect lighting. The master bathroom has sitz bath, and a shower system having multiple spigots, including needle jets surrounding the bather, an overhead ’shampoo’ showerhead, two showerheads at waist height pointing inward, and a ‘bidet’ shower head mounting near the floor and directed upward (you can see a picture of the shower here). The sweeping main staircase is marble, the mansion is sandstone, and incredible handcrafted woodwork can be found in nearly every room (you can see a picture of the fabulous staircase here).
In addition to novelties like the sleeping porches (I want one!), I pointed out additional details to the kids, like the absolute separation between the family quarters and the servant’s facilities. The servant’s entrance, the servant’s stairwell, and the servant’s rooms were nearly completely hidden from view, while most rooms had some means of summoning “the help” if they were needed. It’s good to be the boss.
In addition to the Mansion, the estate has a Gate Lodge which is a small house in itself, and a gift shop in the original garage. But the greatest attraction at the Pittock Mansion is the sweeping view it offers of Portland. From the front lawn, you can see Mount Saint Helens, with it’s truncated top to the northeast:
While Mount Hood dominates the downtown area to the east:
It’s well worth a visit to soak in the vista from the top of the hill, and think about what it must have been like to live in such a palatial home. To give you a tiny taste, I took a panorama looking toward downtown. It still doesn’t do it justice.
Update: Don’t ask me why it didn’t occur to me to take pictures INSIDE the Mansion. It just didn’t. Fortunately, others are not so absent-minded. If you want to see a damn near complete tour of the interior of the Pittock Mansion, these folks have done the work for you.