Category Archives: Events

15th Annual Kitchen Revival Tour Showcases Work of Homeowners and Local Craftsmen

This Saturday, April 13th is the 15th annual Kitchen Revival Tour organized by the Architectural Heritage Center. The tour is the largest education program of the year for the AHC.

Eight homeowners are generously opening their homes for this tour showcasing some great DIY work as well as the work of local craftsmen, designers, and contractors. If you are thinking of renovating the kitchen in your older home, this tour is a great idea-generator. Of course it’s also a lot of fun just to see inside some great older Portland area homes.

This year’s tour features a fantastic 1923 home in Laurelhurst that once served as a model for a local brick and tile company. At the time the home was built, it received tremendous local press. The current homeowners recently completed their kitchen renovation and were featured in the Oregonian. The home is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The "Brick Home Beautiful" as advertised in the January 28, 1923 Oregonian. For homeowner privacy concerns, this image was slightly edited to remove the address.

The “Brick Home Beautiful” as advertised in the January 28, 1923 Oregonian. For homeowner privacy concerns, this image was slightly edited to remove the address.

The other homes on the tour are easy to locate and offer a variety of renovation budgets and house styles, from an 1892 Queen Anne to a 1958 Mid-Century Modern Ranch. The homes are scattered mostly throughout Northeast Portland, and besides Laurelhurst are in the following neighborhoods: Irvington, Eliot,  Concordia, and Beaumont-Wilshire. Other stops are in the Portsmouth and Richmond neighborhoods.

Tickets are still on sale – Follow this link for more information about the 2013 Kitchen Revival Tour.

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Libraries Are Powerful

You know how it is. You hear a story about where you live and you think, “Hey – that’s pretty interesting,” and you tell someone else. Eventually the story comes back to you and you think, ‘Wait – that’s not what my aunt/neighbor/friend told me.” You resolve to find out what really happened with your house/block/region. Truth. Wow. A very big idea that probably involves History. Primary documents. Maps. Plans. Books. Wi-fi.

One of the places you can find all these things and answers about building and neighborhood history is the library at the Architectural Heritage Center. Named after Rejuvenation, its founding donor from when the Center opened in 2005, the library contains a wealth of architectural and local history resources. Staff, members, and scholars use the library for program creation, to research for the media, to help neighborhoods document their past and preserve their future, and more. Cataloging goes on and on, and there are literally thousands of research documents already available. And yes, there is wi-fi, so you can research on-line at the same time.

This Saturday’s library open house from 10 am to 3 pm is a great time to learn more. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help answer your house history questions, and show you our recently-completed seismic upgrade measures. Items from the collection that are not normally on display will be available for viewing and you can see some things that are just cool whether you need them for a research project or not.

Two short courses on preserving personal archives will be offered at 11 am and 1 pm by Richard Engeman, historian, archivist, and author.

History is powerful. Recent news reports about rebels in Mali attacking Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba library, a repository of unique and rare manuscripts dating as far back as the early 1200s, remind us to take care of our own libraries. Why would retreating rebels take time under fire to destroy a collection of documents? Because they know that culture and history are powerful forces and the destruction of them is a punch to the heart and soul of a people. Why did Stalin order photographs altered to remove the images of those he had killed? Because he knew that by manipulating the physical record, he could exercise control over not only his own time, but the historical interpretation of it. The historical record is influenced by who manages the story line and the documents that support it. As Churchill wrote, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

In the world of our own library here at the AHC, our members and staff are careful stewards of what was collected by founders Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan, and given to us later by other thoughtful donors. Our repository of history doesn’t date as far back as Ahmed Baba’s, but we have many unique and rare items of local import and usefulness to share and preserve.

And there’s the ongoing query and challenge. What do we save, and how do we pay for saving it? What will best tell the story of our own time and what do we infer from the past by what items people “back then” felt were important enough to save, or saved randomly? What resources are most useful for architectural history researchers now, and how do we predict which ones will be of most import in the future? One solution today is to make digital versions that can be accessed online from anywhere, and the AHC has done some of that. But, that process, too, costs money, and we must balance the accounting books as well as the importance of the research books. In a digital era, there is still worth in preserving the originals, while at the same time making wise decisions about what best belongs online.

As a Facebook meme tells us, a certain subset of people, including me, still regret the destruction of the great library of Alexandria. In our time, we must not take the libraries in our lives for granted. Use them, support them financially, donate documents to them, and tell other people why they are important. For all of us here, and, yes, for the world.

Fiction is great and stories are powerful ways to transfer culture and teach people about life and how to live it with meaning and understanding. However, primary documents set the story straight when we need culture to be history, instead of folklore.

Come see us on Saturday. Truth can be stranger than fiction. Find out.

Written by Holly Chamberlain, Deputy Director, Bosco-Milligan Foundation/Architectural Heritage Center


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Update on Endangered Hawthorne Houses – Public Meeting

Back in August we reported on two endangered historic homes on SE Hawthorne at 27th. Redevelopment at this site is moving forward and now it appears that one of the homes may be saved from deconstruction and moved to a nearby lot.

If you are concerned about these homes or have questions about the development, the Buckman Community Association will be discussing the issue at their monthly board meeting tomorrow evening.

Here are the meeting details:

Location:  Multnomah County Boardroom – 501 SE Hawthorne

Time: 7:00 PM

For more information about the Buckman neighborhood click here.

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The Short Significant Career of Architect Rolph H. Miller

Rolph H. Miller
Source: Oregonian March 12, 1901

Numerous architects who once worked in the Portland, OR area have been forgotten or simply lost to the passage of time. One such architect was Rolph H. Miller, who died in 1901, just as his architectural career was hitting its stride. He was only 41 years old when he died – the result of complications from an appendicitis.

According to his obituary, Miller attended school at Washington University in St. Louis. He was then hired by the University of Toledo (OH) where he became an instructor and administrator for the Scott Manual Training School. Later he took courses in architecture in the Boston area, possibly at what is now the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  It remains unknown how he became connected with them, but in the early 1890s, Miller came to Portland and was hired by the architectural firm of Whidden & Lewis to assist with their designs for the new Portland City Hall.

By 1895, Miller had joined the Portland Sketch Club and started his own architectural firm. From his offices in the Sherlock Building on Southwest Third Avenue,  he designed buildings for the Boys & Girls Aid Society and for Portland Public Schools. He also started designing homes.

Holladay School, designed by Miller, once stood on NE 9th Avenue, where the Lloyd Center is today.
Source: Oregonian May 12, 1900

In 1899, Miller designed a wonderful Classical Revival style home for Julius and Delia Durkheimer in northwest Portland. That home, with its fantastic interior woodwork, is one of the few projects completed by Miller that is still standing. On July 28th, the Durkheimer home will be featured on the Architectural Heritage Center’s third annual Heritage Home Tour.

The Durkheimer House in northwest Portland

Miller died on March 11, 1901, with several projects still in development. One of those was a home he designed for his own family, at NE 21st and Hancock, in the Irvington neighborhood. Miller’s widow never moved into the house, which was then sold later in 1901. It has since been demolished.

Another of  Miller’s incomplete projects was that of the Portland Crematorium in Sellwood. That project was taken over by architect Joesph Jacobberger, opening in September 1901. Miller actually became one of the first to be interred there.

Like Portland architect Warren H. Williams before him and A.E. Doyle  a few decades later, Miller’s career was sadly cut short. In Miller’s case however, he apparently had no business partners or family member to take over his business, so his projects were taken over by others within the local architecture community. This has led to a dearth of information about Miller. Thankfully, we still have a few places like the Durkheimer home, the Portland Crematorium (now Wilhelm’s), and City Hall to remind us all of the quality of his work.

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The Barnes Residence: A History Revised

The Frank C. Barnes residence in the Alameda neighborhood of NE Portland (OR).
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1913,  a notable Portland businessman by the name of Frank C. Barnes, had a home built on Alameda Ridge. The home was filled with amazing details like a mahogany stairway and wonderful stained glass windows.  In many ways it rivaled the Pittock Mansion, which was under construction at about the same time.

For decades the home was thought to be the work of architect David Lockheed Williams. Williams was an important architect in early 20th century Portland and the son of Warren H. Williams, architect of many of Portland’s fantastic cast-iron fronted buildings. Indeed D.L. Williams may have been involved in early plans for the home, but recent research has identified the firm of Stokes & Zeller as the architects of the home as it was constructed. Stokes & Zeller were a prolific firm, designing homes all over the east side of Portland – including many in the Sullivan’s Gulch, Irvington, and Buckman neighborhoods.

The discovery of the connection between Stokes & Zeller and the Barnes residence points out how helpful some research tools that weren’t around 20, 10, or even 5 years ago, can be.  In the past couple of years, one of the most helpful tools in researching buildings in Portland has become the Oregonian Historical Archive. Available online through Multnomah County Library, this word-searchable archive has uncovered all sorts of evidence connecting some (until now) little known architects to some very significant projects. The Barnes residence is but one example.

Over the years the Barnes residence has seen several ownership changes and at one time it was almost demolished and replaced with a synagogue, but today it has been lovingly renovated and on July 28th, the home will be part of the Architectural Heritage Center’s  Heritage Home Tour.

So now the question remains, as we continue our efforts to ensure that those interested in Portland’s past have access to the most complete and accurate building histories, what will we uncover next?


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14th Annual Kitchen Revival Tour – April 14th

On Saturday, April 14th, the Architectural Heritage Center will be holding its annual Kitchen Revival Tour – the AHC’s most popular education program. This year there are eight kitchens from around the city, presenting a variety of approaches to “reviving” kitchens in our older homes, while also retaining historic character and charm.

If you’re thinking of renovating your own kitchen or maybe you just love seeing inside some of Portland’s wonderful vintage homes, regardless of the reason, this tour is a delight for all.

1898 home on the 2012 AHC Kitchen Revival Tour

The oldest home on this year’s tour is an 1898 Queen Anne cottage in southeast Portland in which the homeowners painstakingly took on a DIY project that returned the kitchen to a very period look, while also meeting their needs.

The youngest home on the tour is a 1961 architect-designed ranch home in Alameda that displays an amazing renovation. The house itself is also a Mid-Century Modern gem, so if you are a fan of that era, you’ll love this tour stop!

1961 home on the 2012 AHC Kitchen Revival Tour

In the middle are several wonderful homes from the 1910s – an era in which thousands of homes were built in Portland. If you have a home from this period, this tour offers several kitchen renovation ideas.

Rounding out the tour is a wonderful 1920s apartment building, displaying an intact, original kitchen – other than the appliances of course. This kitchen offers several great lessons for owners of smaller 1920s – 1930s era homes and condo dwellers. Just the fact that the cabinets and built-ins are still intact shows how these materials were made to last!

1910s home on the 2012 AHC Kitchen Revival Tour

The tour is Saturday, April 14, 2012 from 10am to 4pm. You can register online, by phone, or simply come to the AHC on the day of the tour to purchase your tickets.

Here’s a link to purchase tickets for the Kitchen Revival Tour on the AHC website:

Or you can call the AHC at 503.231.7264

The Architectural Heritage Center is located at 701 SE Grand Avenue @ Alder

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Historic Preservationists to Attend Upcoming City Council Meeting

At the Wednesday, March 7th, 9:30AM meeting of the Portland City Council, historic preservationists from around the city are planning to gather in support of reforms to the historic design review process and fee structure. This comes in the wake of recent concerns raised in the Buckman neighborhood (and elsewhere) over the exorbitant fees for even minor exterior changes to a building in a designated historic district.  Preservationists are encouraged to show up and show City Council that these places matter – even if you don’t wish to testify.

There’s more information at this Facebook event site.


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Curious About the Oldest Homes in the Portland Area? Read On!

A recent discussion at the Architectural Heritage Center led to the question

What is the oldest standing house in Portland?

James B. Stephens House - SE 12th Avenue - Portland, Oregon

To our knowledge, within the city limits it’s the James B. Stephens House on SE 12th Avenue. The circa 1864 house was moved to its present location in the early 1900s.

Of course, outside Portland there are a number of older homes still standing. In Oregon City there are several that predate the Stephens house, including the well-known McLoughlin House.

So as a result of this discussion and the recent interest in house history, we thought it would be both fun and informative to gather a list of the oldest homes in the Portland Metro area. In addition to Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties, we should also include Vancouver and Clark County, Washington, since they too have some interesting historic homes from before Oregon achieved statehood.

To get things started, here’s the beginning of a list of the oldest known standing homes in the Portland area.

1845    Francis Ermatinger House – Oregon City  (On the Historic Preservation League of Oregon’s 10 Most Endangered Buildings list for 2011)

1846    Dr. John McLoughlin House – Oregon City

1847    William Holmes House (aka The Rose Farm) – Oregon City

1849    Dr. Forbes Barclay House – Oregon City

1850    Morton McCarver House – Oregon City

1851    Captain J.C. Ainsworth House – Oregon City

1856    Alvin T. Smith House – Forest Grove

1859    Thomas Hines House – Forest Grove

c. 1864    James B. Stephens House – Portland

1865    Governor Curry House (attributed) – Portland

1870    1728 SE Belmont – Portland

1872    Jacob Kamm House – Portland

1873    Benjamin Cornelius Jr. House – Forest Grove

If you know about a home that should be on this list, please send it our way.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out this upcoming AHC program on House History Research.


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Absalom Hallock and Portland’s Oldest (Known) Building – UPDATED

A.B. Hallock and Z.H. Webber ad from the very first issue of the Oregonian, December 4, 1850. Courtesy of University of Oregon Historic Oregon Newspapers program.

Tonight, the Architectural Heritage Centerwill be hosting a special event at Portland’s oldest known building – The Hallock-McMillan Building on SW Naito at Oak Street. The circa 1857 building is in the midst of renovations under the new ownership of John Russell, who also owns the adjacent historic buildings. Program attendees will get a chance to see inside the building and the neighboring Dielschneider building, as well as have the chance to take a 30 minute walking tour of the immediate area. Refreshments will be served and there are even door-prizes. You can still purchase tickets for the event at the AHC’s website or call them 503-231-7264. Tickets can also be purchased at the door (cash or check only).

So who was Absalom Hallock?

Hallock has often been touted as Portland’s first professional architect. That is to say, he called himself an architect, during a time when there were no licensing requirements for architects in Portland. He has been attributed with designing Portland’s first brick building, constructed in 1853 for Portland pioneer William S. Ladd.

A.B. Hallock ad from the Umpqua Weekly Gazette, May 12, 1855 - courtesy of University of Oregon Historic Oregon Newspaper program.

As with many of Portland’s early power brokers, Hallock was also a local politician, serving on Portland’s city council from 1857 until 1873. During this time he also acted as street commissioner, city surveyor, council president, and even volunteer firefighter. A December 4, 1900 Oregonian article, refers to Hallock as a “political boss” who “came near running the city.” After retiring in 1874, Hallock moved to the Tillamook area where he lived until his death in November 1892. He was buried at Lone Fir Cemetery.

Hallock and McMillan Building circa 1858

To date, little else has been written about Hallock’s work as an architect. He is said to have designed at least 18 early Portland brick buildings, as well as the second Washington County Courthouse, in Hillsboro (1852). Perhaps some earnest Portland historian will recognize the opportunity to further research Hallock’s career, because clearly he was a significant player in the development of early Portland.


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Breaking News: City to Host Portland Plan 2035 Meetings Focused on Historic Preservation

This news is fresh off the press. Mark your calendars now for these important meetings in May and June specifically addressing historic preservation and Portland’s efforts to plan for how the city may look in 2035.

Historic Preservation and The 2035 Portland Plan 

The Bureau of Planning & Sustainability has now scheduled the Historic Preservation-specific sessions we have all been waiting for. After many months of discussion and many Portland Plan meetings on an array of other subjects, please mark your calendars and plan to attend two VERY important symposia on Historic Resources.

#1 FRIDAY, May 20th, 9:00AM – 12:00 Noon
1900 SW 4th Avenue (City of Portland Development Services building))

#2 FRIDAY, June 17th, 9:00AM – 11:30AM
1900 SW 4th Avenue (same location)

The intent of session #1 is to identify historic preservation policy issues, from the views of important stakeholders including the Landmarks Commission, property owners and developers, preservation advocates, and others.

Session #2 will present the findings from the first session, with the objective of arriving at Historic Preservation Policy documents for inclusion in the Portland Plan.

This is our opportunity to define the future of historic preservation in Portland.

Bosco-Milligan Foundation executive Director Cathy Galbraith will be participating in these important meetings. We hope to see many more preservation advocates there so your voices can be heard.

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