Built in 1914 for one of Oregon’s influential families, Pittock Mansion is filled with rich history and remarkable stories.
Henry Pittock, owner of The Oregonian newspaper, and his wife Georgiana, built Pittock Mansion in 1914. The City of Portland now owns the estate, and Portland Parks & Recreation and the non-profit Pittock Mansion Society work in collaboration to operate and maintain the museum and surrounding park.
When Henry Pittock and his future wife Georgiana Burton arrived, separately, by wagon trains in the 1850s, Portland was a muddy village, isolated from the rest of the United States and the world.
Henry found work as a typesetter at The Weekly Oregonian newspaper, and became the paper’s owner and publisher. He went on to build an empire incorporating real estate, banking, railroads, steamboats, sheep ranching, silver mining, and the pulp and paper industry. Georgiana Pittock became a founder and fundraiser for many charities and cultural organizations, such as Ladies Relief Society, Women’s Union, and the Martha Washington Home.
The couple was known for their quiet reserve, helpful demeanor, and love of the outdoors. A vigorous outdoorsman, Henry rode bicycles with the Oregon Riding Club, hiked with the Mazamas, and climbed Mt. Hood four times. Georgiana cherished gardening, and kept a terraced flower garden at the mansion covered with every kind of flower imaginable. She is recognized for originating the tradition of Portland’s annual Rose Festival.
The Pittocks represent the people – merchants, lawyers, land speculators, organizers – who sought to make their town the region’s commercial center. By 1914, Portland had transformed into a booming, modern city, connected by railroad, telephone, and telegraph to other parts of the nation and world.
Henry and Georgiana moved into their new home in 1914 along with eight family members. Family continued to live in the mansion following the deaths of Georgiana in 1918 and Henry in 1919, but had difficulty maintaining the home. In 1958, the last family members moved out and put the estate on the market. The unoccupied mansion faced the devastating Columbus Day Storm in 1962. Hurricane-force winds downed trees, blew off roof tiles, and broke windows. Damage left the interior exposed to rain for 18 months.
Developers planned to buy the damaged, molding mansion to replace it with a subdivision. Instead, Portlanders launched a grassroots fundraising campaign to save it. In 1964, the City of Portland purchased the estate for $225,000, including $67,500 raised by citizens.
Repairs took 15 months. Workers fixed broken windows and replaced missing roof tiles. They replastered walls and ceilings, and flattened warped wood floors. On June 4, 1965, a restored Pittock Mansion opened to the public.
Surrounded by 46-acres of natural beauty, no other place in town offers a more breathtaking view or revealing glimpse of Portland’s past than Pittock Mansion.