Located high in the northwest hills above the city, Pittock Mansion is one of Portland’s brightest jewels, and one of our favorite Portland places to visit. Built in 1914 by Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana, the mansion not only boasted sweeping views of the city but incorporated the latest technology of the time, including a housewide intercom system, a walk-in refrigerator, an elevator, and indirect electric lighting.
Both Henry and Georgiana separately came to Portland by way of the Oregon Trail in the 19th century, and Henry built his fortune as the owner and publisher of the Oregonian newspaper. Together, the Pittocks were instrumental in transforming Portland from a small logging town into a modern city, and they were active in raising funds for several local charities.
Georgiana died in 1918, and Henry in 1919. Family members continued to live in the mansion until 1958 when the last one moved out (he had actually been born in the house – the Pittock household consisted of nine extended family members when Henry and Georgiana lived there). The house suffered considerable damage over the years, especially during the Columbus Day Storm in 1962, but the city rallied to save and restore the mansion and it opened to the public in 1965. It is currently operated by Portland Parks and Recreation and staffed by volunteers. The home and the estate manager’s home were added to the National Historic Register in 1974.
We also viewed a special exhibition about Portland’s 1905 Lewis & Clark Exhibition, which attracted participants from all over the world and rivaled any other world’s fair to date. Pittock had been instrumental in bringing the fair to the city.
Brett and I were inspired by our visit to Pittock Mansion to make a rare souvenir purchase: two big, sturdy hand-thrown pottery coffee mugs with an image of the mansion on the front. They will get lots of use!