Estate of Mind: Portland’s Fascinating Pittock Mansion
So it is with Portland’s Pittock Mansion. This wasn’t just some place to raise a family in. This is 46 rooms in a home that rests upon 46 acres. From its inception, this place was meant to impress. In the over one hundred years since it was erected, it has inspired all manner of reactions. Early on, everything from envy to awe grew in the eyes of those lucky enough to visit it. Later on, scandal was born in the space, leading to bitter rivalries. In more recent times, the site has evolved into an opportunity for education and wonder … and possibly contact with some lively spirits! Come with us and explore the wonders of Pittock Mansion.
A Family Affair
In the late 19th century, Henry and Georgiana Burton Pittock were one of the most sought-after couples in Portland society. Henry was a famous pioneer who had gone on to build a massive financial empire with the crown jewel of his kingdom being the daily newspaper known as the Oregonian and the paper mills that fed it. Meanwhile, Georgiana busied herself by creating the Portland Rose Society, whose legacy helped boost the city’s nickname of “Rose City.” By the time both were in their later years, they felt they needed to solidify their stately place in local society by establishing a stately manner that would bear their name.
In 1909 — when Mrs. Pittock was 64 and Mr. Pittock was 74 — the couple hired famed San Francisco architect Edward T. Foulkes to design a French-Renaissance style mansion. The final product came out to be in excess of 16,000 square feet. It took over five years to complete. And before it could be finished in 1914, Georgiana would suffer a debilitating stroke, only getting to live in her palace a few more years before passing on in 1918. Henry sadly only lasted a few more months beyond her. Nevertheless, they left behind an incredible edifice. To this day, the interior and its eclectic blend of French Renaissance, Jacobian, Turkish and Edwardian features marvels people to this day.
Anyone staying within Portland or the immediate surroundings can easily reach the Pittock Mansion and enjoy this preserved treasure. In fact, were it not for a massive effort to save the building in 1964, it could have ended up demolished! Instead, this destination receives all manner of people seeking different sorts of experiences. Even before entering, the site itself is inviting to bird watchers as the 1,000-feet-above-sea-level setting hosts many a feathered friend. The well-groomed grounds are planted with rows of fragrant flowers. There are hiking trails abound and stunning views of Portland to be enjoyed.
Once inside, prepare to see how the other half lived. Majestic staircases wind their way up and down the stories. Book lovers will absolutely drool when they see the private library. Original furniture still fills the rooms, mostly locally sourced and crafted. If you have a touch of the maestro in you, try playing harp in the music room. Heirlooms remain collected, stunning visitors with their beauties. There are also changing exhibits, including a Christmas tree spectacular every holiday season. There’s plenty to see here connecting people to Portland’s history even as the modern metropolis can be seen outside the large windows.
One more thing you may encounter here is Mr. and Mrs. Pittock themselves — as spirits! Yes, stories have been around for decades about the jolly couple greeting those who come to see the mansion.
Windows mysteriously open and close. Human figures are seen in the distance before disappearing. There are even reports of the scent of roses coming and going without a source — a preference of Georgiana! But don’t worry. By all accounts, these are very friendly ghosts, happy to share their home with you!