Today, while Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett were working, I went for a walk around the Laurelhurst neighborhood. It is just next to our Kerns neighborhood and very shady and pretty.
There is Laurelhurst Park, which I have told you about, 31 acres of maple, fir, oak and elm trees with places for kids to play and dogs to run, as well as a small lake for ducks and turtles, picnic tables and toys to climb on. The Park was built in 1909, and the trees were planted then, because this land had been a farm. So these giant trees are “only” one hundred years old. The Park was made by a landscape architect named Emanuel Mische. The hills and valleys of the land helped him make it feel like a forest and not just flat land with trees. It is my favorite place in Portland.
Back when the park was new, boys and girls played very different games from each other and didn’t play together as much as you do now. The south side of the play area was “for boys”, and the north side was “for girls”. I will have to do some more reading and learn what games they played. Now, everyone plays together, however they like.
While the park was being planted, houses were being built on land that had been William Ladd’s Hazelfern Farm. Mr. Ladd had been a mayor of Portland, and when he died, his family sold the land to the Laurelhurst Company to develop a neighborhood. It was built right along the streetcar lines, so it was easy to get to from Downtown Portland. This was before many people had cars, so they rode horses, walked, or took streetcars to get around.
Before the building started, the Laurelhurst Company put up sandstone arches at the entrances to the neighborhood. These made the place feel very special, even when it was just hills and dirt.
The houses people built were very different from the house you have in Salinas. There are Bungalow Style, Spanish Revival, a very pretty style called Fairy Tale, and many others. Some houses are a combination of styles, so it is hard to give them all names. Sort of like if one of your Little Ponies had a crown on her head, butterfly wings, and strawberries on her bottom!
Spanish Revival Style
The building started in 1910 and in six years, 500 houses had been built. In another ten years, there were only about 20 empty lots left to build on!
This was a very popular place to live. It was far enough out of town to be quiet and peaceful, but the streetcar made it easy to get to.
Coe Circle was a grassy park in the middle of the Neighborhood, and the streets go in curvy lines around it, very different from the straight streets in most of the rest of Portland. The streetcar ran right to the Circle and turned around to go back into town. In 1925, Henry Waldo Coe, a doctor who lived in Portland, wanted to give a gift to the city. He bought a copy of a statue of Joan of Arc, a famous French heroine, and had it placed in Coe Circle. It wasn’t put in the middle of the circle, because the streetcar tracks were there! The streetcar line was removed in 1925, but the statue is still off-center.
I walked for about an hour, got tired and came home to read more about what I had seen, and make lunch.