Where We Live: Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion's current exhibit documents The Oregonian newspaper's early days

Pittock Mansion, March 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — High above downtown, in Portland’s west hills, sits Pittock Mansion, the 23-room house that was once home to one of Portland’s most prominent families.

Henry Pittock was an Englishman who came across the country on the Oregon Trail in the 1850s to seek his fortune. His wife, Georgiana, was from Missouri.

Henry Pittock in front of his house
Henry Pittock in front of his house

“She actually helped found the Rose Society, held the first rose show in the backyard of her house in downtown Portland and sort of got the idea of roses going,” says Patti Larkin, the curator of Pittock Mansion.

That idea turned into the city’s premier event, the Rose Festival. And Henry’s business, publishing, turned into Portland’s premier newspaper — The Oregonian. He bought it from founder Thomas Dryer.

“Henry Pittock really saw the Oregonian from its beginning thru growing into a modern newspaper and a lot of technological changes along the way.”

By the time Henry had amassed his fortune and ended his career, The Oregonian had massive press rooms and technology to produce lots of papers quickly.

Henry and Georgiana built their mansion toward the end of their lives, in 1914. They both died a few years later. Their family lived in the house until 1958, then put it on the market.

Damage to Pittock Mansion from the Columbus Day storm
Damage to Pittock Mansion from the Columbus Day storm

It didn’t sell.

It was slated for demolition after it received damage in the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, but concerned residents raised enough money to buy the mansion for the city in 1964. It’s now a museum which gets about 90,000 visitors a year.

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