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?



Filed under Events, Historic Preservation, Local History

5 responses to “The Barnes Residence: A History Revised

  1. J Merrill

    Hi, I am trying to find information on a house I found in my neighborhood with a plaque labeled “Portland Historic Registry Henry James Circa 1904”
    Can you point me in a good direction?

  2. Fred Leeson

    It’s wonderful that the Barnes Mansion has been so lovingly restored/preserved. Kudos to the owners who appreciate the gem that it is.

  3. Margaret A. Barnes

    I am so happy to discover this site about The Barnes Mansion, which was built for my great grandfather, Frank C. Barnes, and his family!

    Over the years my father, Frank Plummer Barnes, would often reminisce about the wonderful family holiday celebrations he experienced as a child at “the big house.” A magnificent Christmas tree in the ballroom brought much delight to him and his cousins. As my grandfather, Frank Scott Barnes, had six sisters, there was always an abundance of family gathering at the mansion. It is comforting to know the house is still loved, beautifully restored and considered an important part of Portland’s history. My father also told me stories of how his father courted my grandmother, Doris Plummer, during afternoon drives in one of the first automobiles in Portland.
    They were married in 1912. (My grandfather died in 1939 from wounds inflicted by a grizzly bear attack while salmon fishing on the Stikine River. My grandmother eventually became an Alaskan Territorial Senator.)

    Thank you for this lovely interlude Architectural Heritage Center!

  4. Fred T. Adams

    For Margaret A. Barnes – I was pleased to see your note. I am the great grandson of William Adams (b. 1848, Tenby, Wales, d. 1917 Portland), who worked for Frank C. in the early 1890’s, later becoming the head of Adams Brothers Meat Packing in Portland. My grandfather, Hugh Phillips Adams, called Frank C. “cousin”, and my father, Hugh, recalls visits to the Barnes house in the 1920’s. Grandma and Grandpa lived on NE 46th between Alameda and Stanton. I know of Frank S.’s death as related by my father and through reading outdoor magazines.

    I’m anxious to learn the relationship between my Grandfather and Frank C. Barnes. My father thinks they were first cousins, but isn’t certain. I’d like to know whether you ever heard of William Adams and family in Portland, or know anything that might shed light on this. William Adams married Ellen Jane Phillips of Haverford-West, Pembrokeshire, Wales, ca. 1868.

    You may contact me at email or by telephone at 509-430-8515. I know of one distant Barnes connection by marriage in the late 1700’s in England, but that is too far past to explain my Grandfather’s use of “cousin”.

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