Preserving Pittock’s “Other” Building
The Pittocks built the Gate Lodge in conjunction with the mansion to house estate staff. While the splendor of the mansion often overshadows the Gate Lodge, the architectural significance of a four-story building engineered and built into a steep hillside should not be overlooked.
While the mansion required substantial restoration when the estate was purchased by the City of Portland in 1964, the Gate Lodge was in even greater disrepair with mold, rot, and cracked and peeling plaster throughout the 1914 home. Workers completed the initial restoration of the Gate Lodge in 1977, and the following decades saw the installation and later removal of catering equipment to accommodate a tea house, roof replacement, and extensive repairs after pipes froze and burst.
Today the greatest threats to the Gate Lodge are water intrusion and erosion of the hillside into which it is built. The Pittock Mansion Society is working with Portland Parks & Recreation to engineer a drainage plan that will protect the Gate Lodge and take into account the eroding effects of storm water on the southern slopes of the Mansion’s grounds.
The Pittock estate’s rescue and restoration is an inspiring story of what can be accomplished when dedicated citizens value preserving historic buildings and the stories of the people who lived in them.
How Portlanders Saved Pittock Mansion from Developers
In 1964, demolition threatened Pittock Mansion. The mansion, empty and damaged from the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, caught the interest of developers planning to turn the site into a subdivision. After public outcry, The City of Portland agreed to buy the property and turn it into a park if citizens could prove widespread public support by raising $100,000 of the $225,000 price tag in 30 days.
Volunteers formed the Pittock Acres Retention Committee (PARC) to head fundraising efforts. Organized into women’s and men’s divisions, the women of PARC solicited neighborhood groups and the men solicited local businesses for support.
PARC organized many publicity events and fundraisers, including a parade of historic automobiles, a car wash, an afternoon tea at Pittock Mansion that served 5,000 visitors tea in paper cups, and a last-minute “Eleventh Hour Dance” at the Multnomah Hotel.
Contributions ranged from a few cents to $1,000. Despite PARC’s efforts, they raised just $67,510 of the $100,000 goal by deadline. Still determined to save Pittock Mansion, PARC convinced the city council of the merits of adding Pittock Acres to complete a chain of park land in the West Hills from Forest Park to Washington Park. On April 22, 1964, the city council voted to complete the purchase.
After 13 months of restoration, Pittock Mansion opened to the public. Thank you to the Portland community for their support in 1964 and today!
See more photo of the fundraising efforts in 1964 on our Facebook page.
Explore early Oregon through Kate Pittock’s eyes
Kate Pittock Hebard, Henry and Georgiana’s daughter who lived in Pittock Mansion, took a series of snapshots of Oregon life for her cousin back East, Jennie Priscilla Pittock.
Below are just a few of Kate’s photos, head to our Facebook page to see them all!
Membership improvements on the way!
Thank you to everyone who participated in our membership survey!
We appreciate the overwhelming response to our membership satisfaction survey. We heard from almost half of you – thank you!
The average respondent has been a member for 3-5 years. You told us that the newsletter is an important piece of communication, so we will continue to strengthen its content to keep you in-the-know about all things Pittock. We also heard many encouraging words like “keep doing what you are doing,” and great suggestions like “more social events, please.” In the coming years, we will include more social events as we implement our new strategic plan.
In light of the survey results, I have some changes to the membership program for 2017 to share:
- Rate Changes—there will be an increase in price for three of our membership categories. The new rates will be:
- Individual $40
- Dual $65
- Family $80
- Benefit changes—we will add the following benefits:
- 2 special shopping opportunities in the museum store exclusively for members that will double your discount to 20%.
- 2 additional admission passes with each renewing or new membership.
These changes will take place as of February 1, 2017 and will go into effect when you renew your membership or when a new membership is purchased.
Thank you for your continued support; with your help we will make sure Pittock Mansion remains a vital part of the community for another 100 years.
Marta E. Bones
Want to learn more about Pittock Mansion?
Want to learn more about Pittock Mansion?
See Damage at Pittock Mansion after the 1962 Columbus Day Storm
By the time the 1962 Columbus Day Storm hit Portland, Pittock Mansion had been vacant for several years. The unoccupied mansion suffered extensive damage during the storm; high winds blew off one-third of the ceramic roof tiles, windows were shattered, and giant Douglas Fir trees were toppled across the estate.
No repairs were made to Pittock Mansion after the storm, and the damaged, vacant house sat exposed to the elements for the next 18 months, resulting in water damage throughout the home.
See below for photos of the damage taken in 1964.
New Strategic Plan Adopted
Hello Pittock Mansion Society members. My name is Daniel Bergsvik, and I’m the new president of the Pittock Mansion Society Board of Directors. This is the beginning of my third year with the board, and I’ve been a member/donor/volunteer at Pittock Mansion since 2007.
In 2009, the Pittock Mansion Society Board unveiled a strategic plan for 2010-2013 that focused on the visitor experience. Many of those goals have been met, and as circumstances change a fresh look forward is needed. Beginning last fall, your current board and senior staff spent many hours in planning sessions to set priorities for the Pittock. This new strategic plan for 2017-2020 provides a guide for future activities by staff, board, and volunteers to preserve, protect, and enhance Pittock Mansion Museum.
Our new strategic plan has five goals:
1. Deepen visitor engagement and enrich the visitor experience while maintaining strong annual visitation.
Pittock Mansion has experienced record attendance this year. We are in an enviable position compared to most historic house museums and seek to build on our good fortune. We will expand the museum’s programming, improve the garage as a visitor center, and enhance the museum store.
2. Maintain our collections to professional museum standards.
Items in our collection are well cared for and conserved, however, we need improved records of the mansion’s key artifacts in case of catastrophe. In addition, we have discussed sharing information online about collection items and creating a “virtual tour” of Pittock photos and documents.
3. Maintain the physical plant to professional standards of historic preservation.
This goal encompasses many parts. We now know that the mansion would be vulnerable in an earthquake. We need to be prepared for that, not just with planning and safety training, but also by retrofitting the mansion to survive an earthquake.
Behind the scenes, Pittock staff face many challenges due to space constraints. As visitation increases, staff size needs to as well, but the mansion’s office spaces are limited. Our technology infrastructure cannot handle the current needs of visitors and staff, much less the additional use of technology to expand visitor offerings through an app and online content. Also, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the need for on-site parking exceeds capacity during the summer and holiday seasons. We are now working with the city to improve technology, parking, and visitor access.
4. Provide the financial and human resources necessary to maintain and enhance organizational capacity and to implement the strategic plan.
All of these great plans and ideas require funding and manpower. We need to increase donations, promote a planned giving program, and pursue corporate sponsorship and grants. At the same time, we need to recognize that increased visitation and programs put pressure on staff and volunteers. We must ensure our staff and volunteers are motivated, rewarded, and supported.
5. Maintain exemplary governance, administrative practices, and capacity to achieve our strategic goals.
Talk is cheap. For the plan to succeed the board must be engaged, involved, and ensure that staff and volunteer resources are sufficient to achieve our goals. We all must be financially responsible and prudent.
So, there you have it, our goals for Pittock Mansion for the next four years and beyond. Some will be easy to achieve, others may prove more challenging. No matter what, we’ll make the Pittock and the society stronger and better positioned for the future.
Your support, in whatever capacity, is vital to our continued success. As a member, donor, or volunteer (or perhaps all three?) you are crucial to the health of Pittock Mansion. I thank you, sincerely, and look forward to seeing you at the mansion soon!
Strategic Plan in Action
We have begun taking steps towards realizing the new strategic plan, including:
– Increasing staff capacity in Visitor Services to assist visitors and keep up with higher visitation
– Repurposing the previously-unused 2nd floor of the garage for additional office space
– Meeting with Parks staff to discuss parking solutions for summer 2017
New insight into Henry Pittock’s world
Pittock Mansion’s curator is completing the cataloguing, scanning, and preserving of documents enclosed in a Woodruff file cabinet owned by Henry Pittock. Recently donated to the museum, the cabinet holds letters, bills, and contracts that offer a window into The Oregonian publisher’s daily business projects and travels.
This important collection of primary documents gives us deeper insight into Henry’s life. While most are business papers, some documents relate to Pittock family vacations, such as bills from their 1906 stay at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.
Pittock Mansion Welcomes 100,000th Visitor in 12 Months
On June 23rd, 2016, Pittock Mansion welcomed its 100,000th visitor in the last 12 months!
At a time when many historic house museums around the country are experiencing declining visitation, Pittock Mansion’s annual visitation has steadily grown from 81,000 visitors in fiscal year 2013/2014, to 86,000 in fiscal year 2014/2015, to a new record of 100,000 visitors in fiscal year 2015/2016.
Our 100,000th visitor was new Gresham resident, Mya. Mya and her family recently relocated to the Portland area from California. Her first-time visit to the Pittock was inspired by an unexpected afternoon off and the Pittock Mansion signs on Burnside. “Pittock Mansion, that sounded interesting!” Mya explained.
A regular museum goer, Mya has visited museums in New York, California, and Chicago, and found the accessibility of Pittock Mansion to be unique. “Everyone is very friendly and welcoming, and the signs were informal and interesting,” Mya said. Mya’s favorite spot in the mansion was the Sewing Room due to her interest in knitting and cross stitching.
In celebration of setting Pittock Mansion’s new visitation record, staff presented Mya with a gift bag including a free Family membership, 4 complimentary admission passes, and a Pittock tote, mug, and magnet. We look forward to welcoming Mya and her family, new Oregon residents into the Pittock Mansion community and the Portland community at large.
Pittock Mansion’s record attendance comes as Board and staff prepare to initiate a new four-year strategic plan which will further enhance the visitor experience, expand educational programming, and increase community engagement.
“Reaching 100,000 annual visitors is an exciting milestone in the Pittock’s history,” Executive Director Marta Bones stated. “I can’t think of a more appropriate way to launch our work on additional strategic improvements to support an engaging and educational experience for our visitors.” In addition to further enhancing public program offerings, the mansion will work with Portland Parks and Recreation to improve access and create a sustainable long-term preservation plan for the buildings.
“We are proud to begin the next chapter of Pittock Mansion’s history,” Bones concluded, “and look forward to the continued support and participation of the Portland community.”
The new strategic plan will build upon the successes of the Pittock’s Visitor Experience Project, which surveyed visitors about their needs and interests. Focusing on these, the museum positioned itself to fulfill its mission of inspiring understanding of Portland history in ways that would be compelling and relevant to visitors.
The Pittocks and the Rose Festival
Did you know the Pittock’s ties to the Portland Rose Festival go back to its earliest days?
In 1889, local rose enthusiasts founded the Portland Rose Society to encourage amateurs to cultivate and exhibit roses. Georgiana Pittock’s love of roses led her to offer the Pittock’s downtown backyard as the location for their first rose show.
Henry Pittock was a founder of the Rose Festival, started in 1907, and was a lifetime member of the Royal Rosarians, a group formed to act as Portland’s goodwill ambassadors and promote the young city.
See below for a collection of historical Rose Society, Royal Rosarian, and Rose Festival photos!