This home, built by Portland pioneers and completed in 1914, is a richly decorated, eclectic architectural wonder. It stands as a testament of two hard working people that started out barefoot and penniless. The mansion represents Portland's early history and documents the transformation of Portland from a forest clearing and a small lumbar town to a business center and bustling city. Visitors can learn about what life was like in the early 20th century, as well as picnic in the breathtaking gardens and capture photos of the scenic backdrops.
Henry Lewis Pittock was born in England and traveled to Oregon in 1853. Georgiana Martin Burton, native to Missouri, met him after making the voyage to Portland and became his wife in 1860. Henry Pittock was a brilliant businessman and built real estate, steamboats, railroads, silver mining, banks, sheep ranches, and the pulp and paper industry. He became the owner of the Weekly Oregonian, which is still in circulation and being read by Oregonians today. His wife was passionately involved in community service and assisted in founding the Ladies Relief Society to care for needy children, and she worked for the Woman's Union and helped build a the Martha Washington Home for working, single women. The couple lived together for 58 years and had six children, though they only lived in the mansion for 5 years.
Planning for the mansion began in 1909. Henry and Georgiana had it built in the West hills 1,000 feet above the city's skyline so that it would overlook their beloved Portland. The home is a stunning example of early 20th century architecture, with Turkish, French, and English designs and ingenious features, such as a central vacuum system, indirect lighting, and intercoms.
The estate was put on the market by one of the Pittock's grandsons in 1958. Citizens became worried about the rising threats of storm damage and demolition by land developers, so they raised funds and persuaded the City of Portland to purchase and restore the community landmark. The City bought the home for $225,000 and spent fifteen months restoring it. Finally, in 1965, the mansion was opened for the public to discover the beauty and intricacy of the structure and to learn about the remarkable family that once lived there.
Not only is the house itself of immense historical interest, but the mansion is full of old furnishings, art works, and artifacts. Some of these pieces were bought by Portland citizens who wanted the home to become as true to its original appearance as possible before it became open to the public. They were purchased from Pittock family members that had inherited the original furniture. These magnificent pieces include the Stinway grand piano and Henry Pittock's ceremonial sword. The rest were collected from generous donors and interior design shows. In fact, 90 percent of the artifacts in the Pittock mansion collection were donated.
After much work, funding, and donating, the Pittock mansion is a complete display of the splendor the house might have had, waiting for curious tourists and loyal locals to admire and enjoy.