The Pittock MansionMarch 10, 2012 3 Comments
The Pittock Mansion is a chateau of the French Renaissance style, sitting high up in the west hills of Portland, Oregon. An architectural wonder, the mansion was originally built as a private home for Henry and Georgina Pittock. Henry was the publisher of the Oregonian newspaper and Georgiana was one of the founders of the Portland Rose Festival.
Henry Pittock journeyed on a wagon train from Pennsylvania to Oregon in 1853, where, at the young age of 19, he began working for Thomas Jefferson Dryer’s weekly Oregonian newspaper. At the age of 26 he married 15 year old Georgiana Martin Burton of Missouri. Together, Henry and Georgiana began a long life of community service, work, and devotion to family which lasted for 58 years. They had 6 children and 18 grandchildren.
In 1860 Henry took over the Oregonian and changed its format to the daily paper we read today. He went on to build an empire incorporating railroads, banking, steamboats, silver mining, sheep ranching, real estate, and the pulp and paper industry. Georgiana was very dedicated to improving the lives of the community’s women and children. In 1909 they began planning and designing their new home, and in 1914 the Pittock mansion was completed. For that era, the mansion had remarkably progressive features which included intercoms, indirect lighting, and even a central vacuum system. The mansion incorporated French, English, and Turkish designs. Oregon craftsmen and artisans were hired and they used northwest materials to build the house. The final estate included the mansion, a greenhouse, Italianate gate lodge servant’s residence, and a three car garage all neatly arranged on 46 acres of land 1000 feet above downtown Portland. When Henry and Georgiana moved into their new home Henry was 80 years old and Georgiana was 68. This hard working couple had lived in the heart of Portland as it developed from a forest to a bustling business center. Now they lived in this beautiful mansion in the hills with breath taking views of their beloved city.
Georgiana died in 1918 at the age of 72 and Henry a year later at 84. The Pittock family remained in the house until 1958 and at that time, Peter Gantenbein, a Pittock grandson, who was born in the mansion, put the property on the market. At one point the mansion was threatened with demolition and in 1962 a storm caused extensive damage. Concerned citizens came together to raise funds to preserve the site. The city of Portland took notice of this popular support and agreed that the house had great value as a unique historic resource, so, they purchased the estate in 1964 for $225,000. It took fifteen months to restore the house and in 1965 it was opened to the public and has been a community landmark ever since.
This historically significant and visually magnificent mansion today, offers a unique opportunity to see into the past and get a feeling for how life was for one Portland family. Around 80,000 people visit the mansion each year. The mansion has also appeared in popular media. The first known appearance was in the 1977 romance film titled “First Love.” The second film, in 1982 titled “Unhinged,” a slasher film that has since been banned in several countries. The location of the mansion was used in the 1989 film “The Haunting of Sarah Hardy” staring Sela Ward and Morgan Fairchild. The location was also used prominently in the 1993 film “Body of Evidence” starring Madonna and Williem Dafoe. The popular Amazing Race used the location as the finish line for their 13th season. The Amazing Race is a 6-time Emmy winning reality game show.
In 1974 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Pittock Mansion is located at 3229 NW Pittock Drive.
Words by Glenda, Pictures by Brian
Tags: Building, Georgiana Martin Burton, Georgiana Martin Pittock, Henry Pittock, Oregon, Oregonian, Pittock Mansion, PortlandCulture, History, Places and things, Portland