From indigenous American tribal gatherings to the privations of early Portland pioneers; through roaming cougars to the formation of pig farms and grand estates; from picnicking along Sullivan’s Gulch Creek to land rushes and land use debates that even today challenge its future, the Laurelhurst neighborhood has experienced colorful history.
Now, as growth pressures mount, Laurelhurst’s First Annual Home Tour and historic slideshow last month showcased how history can co-exist with 21st Century change.
Sold out days before the event, ticket sales were double what had been expected. With positive cashflow, organizers can evaluate community and charitable causes to support and plan for a second tour next September.
The tour featured a mix of home styles from craftsman to Tudor. Selected for their stylistic significance, they demonstrated how updates, expansive renovations and ADUs can be compatible with architectural integrity.
To protect the legacy for future generations, Laurelhurst Neighborhood is seeking designation as a National Historic District.
Already listed on the National Register and open for the tour was chair Sue Carter-Low’s charming English cottage with its twenty-five brick patterns and intricate details.
“The best part of the tour was building community – over one hundred volunteers worked diligently to ensure this first Laurelhurst Home Tour was a success.”
Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association officer John Liu added his appreciation for hometour-seasoned volunteers from Irvington and planning help from the Architectural Heritage Center.
The tour welcomed “people from all over Portland, from other cities and even other states, who came to learn about Laurelhurst’s history and architecture,” he said.
Among featured homes was the Spanish-Mission style Markham House, originally a showroom for the Laurelhurst Development Company as it platted land purchased from William Ladd’s 463-acre Hazel Fern Farm in 1909.
The house was saved from the wrecking ball a few years ago by community contributions and John McCulloch’s redesign that turned a faux second floor into four bedrooms and opened a two-story hallway with a dramatic glass ceiling to living areas below.
At the Albee House Mayor’s Mansion, McCulloch presented a slideshow depicting historical contributions, such as the famed Olmsted family’s hand in designing the neighborhood’s curvilinear streets and development of the park.
It was once named the most beautiful on the West Coast and the first to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
He cited the role of streetcars on Portland’s eastward expansion, the obliteration of homes by the Banfield Expressway in 1970 and more recent losses of some 30 bungalows by infill development.
Such loss pains the fourth generation Oregonian dedicated to “preserving beauty for future generations”.
In addition to purchasing and restoring landmark properties, the foundation that bears his name is addressing affordable housing through a program it calls the Sharewell Model that provides investment opportunities in lowcost housing in an effort to end homelessness and to “steward” Portland through change. MP