|Forest Park-themed Christmas display in the Pittocks' library|
|Camellia outside the mansion's front entrance|
Georgiana Burton traveled the Oregon Trail at the age of nine. She married Henry, then a young typesetter, when she was fifteen. She loved flowers and enjoyed putting on small rose exhibits with her friends, which gradually became the Portland Rose Festival. She was a suffragette and a noted philanthropist, founding several charities to aid women, children, and the elderly.
The Pittocks' fortunes ebbed and flowed, but over time they became wealthy pillars of the community they had worked so industriously to promote. The mansion that bears their name was built in 1914, when muddy little Stumptown was taking its place as a thriving modern city. The house was a showplace of the latest technology, with thermostat-controlled central heating, a central vacuum system, a refrigeration room, and both electric and gas lighting. Due to a twist of fate, the house is also wheelchair-accessible. As construction was drawing to a close, Georgiana suffered a debilitating stroke. The difficulty of transporting her wheelchair from one level to the next was solved with an innovative new machine: the Otis elevator. Today, visitors in wheelchairs access the mansion the way Georgiana did, using her 1914 elevator.
|Pittock Mansion's main stairwell|
Today, the mansion crowns a 46-acre city park. This partially-landscaped setting is a worthwhile destination in itself, with walkways, lovely plantings, and mature trees (admission is charged to tour the mansion, but the park itself is free). The garden offers a bird's-eye view of downtown Portland, and on a clear day it's possible to see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. The industrial area to the north was the site of the 1905 World's Fair/Lewis and Clark Exposition, designed to promote Portland and attract business to the area. Its lake was later drained and warehouses were built.
Pittock Mansion is easy to find; a small, well-marked street branches off of West Burnside as you head from downtown Portland toward Beaverton (click here for a map and FAQs). The parking lot is small, but friendly volunteers do their best to manage the holiday crowd. It's also possible to take TriMet bus #20 out Burnside and walk up to the mansion. Better yet, hike to the mansion, either through the woods on the Lower Macleay and Wildwood Trails or through the city, starting in the Pearl District.
|Mt. Hood over Portland, looking east from the Pittocks' garden|
|Into the mansion we go!|
|The Pittocks' music room. Onlookers are sometimes given the opportunity to play the original Steinway grand piano in this room, so listen closely while touring this part of the house.|
|The dining room|
|One of the mansion's sleeping porches. These bedrooms were open to the fresh air in the belief that it was beneficial to one's health, particularly in warding off tuberculosis.|
|The author walks between the mansion (left) and the gate lodge (right). We will explore this simpler building next.|
|The Skenes' living room|
|Marjorie Skene's bedroom. Note the that the furniture and heating system are far more plain in this home.|
|The gate lodge was built into the side of the hill atop which the mansion sits. As such it was built up, rather than out, with multiple floors that contain only two rooms each.|
|The Skenes' dining room, with sparse furniture and small refrigerator|
|The mansion and gardens crowning the West Hills|