Portland’s 3 Best Historic Estates

Portland, Oregon’s rose city and a key piece of what locals call the Pacific Northwest (or Cascadia), has long been a crossroads in history. Or, if you will, the end of the trail–the Oregon Trail, that is. The city may be young by east coast standards, but it quickly came of age and has the historic estates to prove it. Here, my three favorites (and you can visit all three!):

The eastern facade of Pittock Mansion.


(1) The Pittock Mansion. If you know of any of these, it’s probably this one. Portland’s poster child historic mansion, the Pittock Mansion is a stunning French renaissance chateau constructed by Henry Pittock in 1914. The Pittock family encapsulates a large swath of Portland history: the Oregonian newspaper to the rose society that brought Portland its nickname, “rose city.” The Pittock Mansion has period furniture and is open regularly both for guided and self-guided tours. Don’t have time to go inside but want to have a look? You can admire the exterior and the view without getting a ticket inside.

Pittock Mansion’s western facade.
Pittock Mansion interior.

(2) The Frank Estate (also known as the Frank Manor House). This beautiful estate was commissioned by Lloyd Frank in 1924. The house sits at the top of a long, stepped garden extending towards a view of Mt Hood. The entire estate is now central to Lewis & Clark College and the gardens were recently beautifully restored. The house, gatehouse, and pool house are all still standing. The pool house is still in use as such during the summer months. I’m partial to this one (my alma mater!), but I never seem to tire of gazing at this gorgeous historic house and roaming the grounds. The Frank Estate is listed on the National Register. It’s no wonder Lewis & Clark makes most-beautiful college campus lists again and again and again!

Winter view of the Frank Estate.



The eastern facade of the Frank Estate.
The Frank Estate peers through the trees above the reflecting pool.

(3) Bishop’s Close. The Bishop’s close is perhaps best known by visitor’s for its beautiful garden on the banks of the Willamette River, which offer a nice stroll amongst Oregon’s finest vegetation. The house was constructed in 1914 by Peter Kerr. It was sited by John Olmsted (of the Olmsted Brothers firm) to afford the best views of Mt Hood. The house was designed by D.E. Lawrence to emulate a Scottish manor, due to Peter Kerr’s Scottish roots. Kerr’s daughters left the house to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon with an endowment to care for the gardens and a requirement that they be open to the public. The garden is known as Elk Rock.

contrast assign 3
A winter view of Bishop’s Close.
The view from the eastern edge of the Pittock Mansion’s gardens.




7 thoughts on “Portland’s 3 Best Historic Estates

    1. So true. Details like this have been out of style for so long, and we don’t use these materials as much anymore. I like to think stylistic transition than a loss of craftsmanship but truly it’s both.

      Liked by 1 person

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