On Saturday, we drove back up into the West Hills above Portland, this time to visit the most famous house in the city, The Pittock Mansion. This finely handcrafted, but not overly grandiose house was built by Henry Pittock, the Editor and owner of the biggest newspaper in town, The Oregonian. Like Mr. Hearst, who built the Hearst Castle in California, Mr. Pittock made a lot of money publishing newspapers and then used that money to make more money.
Even though they were very rich, Mr. Pittock and his wife, Georgianna, had lived most of their lives in much simpler houses in downtown Portland. They had raised kids and adopted orphan nieces. Mrs. Pittock did a lot of work for charities and cultural development. But near the end of their lives, in 1915, they created the Mansion they are known for and moved up the hill, living in it for only four years before they passed away.
Theirs was the first house this far up the hill. They had to build the roads, lay the pipes, and run the electric lines. It was an incredibly expensive undertaking.
We knew that by going in February, we would not be seeing the grounds at their blooming best, but that there would be lots to see, anyway. We were right. The road to the Mansion was winding and not very steep, because it had been designed for horses to pull carriages up.
The house is built in the style of a French Chateau, and both the house and the gardens around it were designed to take advantage of views of the city, the views of the garden, and the natural light that is to be had above the low fog that sometimes hangs over the Willamette River below.
Mrs. Pittock was known in town for her Rose parties, and she is widely credited with working to advance the rose culture of the 1890s. Sadly, none of her original roses have survived, but the caretakers have planted hundreds of roses, lilacs, azaleas, rhododendrons, and other plants that we will enjoy when we return in summer.
I will tell you more about the inside of the house tomorrow!