Spanning decades, the Pittock Mansion’s collection of furnishings, art and artifacts equals the beauty of the mansion itself. The stories of how these items were acquired are as unique as the items themselves.
In the early 20th century, Portland competed with San Francisco and other West Coast rivals. This competition was even reflected in the way houses were furnished. Houses such as the Pittock Mansion incorporated beautiful design in all aspects.
When the Mansion opened for tours in 1965, caring Portlanders wanted this special place to become a showplace, and they succeeded. The Pittock Mansion Society had funds to purchase some of the Pittock family estate’s original furniture. These included the Steinway grand piano, the bench at the window in the music room and Henry Pittock’s ceremonial sword.
Collecting for the Mansion began as soon as the house opened for tours. Interior design shows and generous donors initiated the mansion’s collection with vintage style pieces. Before long, we were enhancing the collections with authentic items fitted to the style of each room. Pittock descendants were involved from the beginning by donating original items to the mansion. Members of the Society’s furnishing committee encouraged local families to share their family histories with us by sharing their collections. Donors have always been generous – an amazing 90 percent of the pieces in the mansion are donated.
Original Pittock pieces are the most important to the mansion collection — and the public — because they reflect what was really at the mansion during the Pittocks’ lives. The portraits of Henry and Georgiana Pittock, their 1887 Steinway and family photographs, for instance, bring the family to life.
Other important items in the collection are the Thomas Hill paintings. We also have a wonderful representation of porcelain, silver and glass indicative to the Pittock era.
For the future, our goals for the Pittock collection are to:
- find more family objects and furniture;
- conserve pieces with the best standards and practices;
- refine special areas of collecting.
To grow and prosper through the collection, we want to add more fine art and to find early Oregon artists for expanded painting and print collections. On our “wish list” of items to present, we are looking for more American art pottery and a 1920s-era refrigerator for the adjacent Gate Lodge.