The History of Pittock Mansion


Sierra Donis (she/her), Editor

Sitting atop Portland’s Southwest hills, Pittock Mansion is renowned as one of the Rose City’s most prized tourist attractions. Its all-encompassing views of the city and photo opportunities drive thousands to visit Pittock every year. Even though this elegant mansion sits right in our own backyard, many don’t know the history surrounding the abandoned residence. 

In 1853, Henry Pittock would traverse the Oregon Trail to seek a new future. He would arrive in Portland, which at the time was merely a “Stumptown.” He would meet his wife, Georgiana Burton, and begin his work in the city. Henry would work as a typesetter for The Oregonian and would later gain ownership of the newspaper and build it into the extremely successful newspaper that still exists today.

Henry wouldn’t stop there although, as he would begin to transform Portland from a Stumptown into an industrial powerhouse. He financed railroads, real estate, banking, silver mining, sheep ranching, steamboats, and the paper industry. Pushing forward Portland’s future and creating the city we know and love. 

Yet, Henry and Georgiana wouldn’t begin building the famous mansion until the early 1900s. “The mansion on the hill” would begin construction in 1912 and would be finished two years later when Henry, Georgiana, and eight other members of the family would move inside. 

Just four years later after the mansion was built, Henry and Georgiana would pass away and leave the house for the rest of the family. The mansion would eventually be put up for sale in 1958, its last residents being Edward and Peter Gantenbein. Unfortunately, the mansion wouldn’t end up selling.

The Pittock Mansion would be hit by the Colombus Day Storm in 1962, just four years after it was put up for sale. The mansion would retain extreme damage and would be left in poor condition until the citizens of Portland banded together and fundraised for the renewal of the historic site. With $67,000 dollars raised from citizens, and an overall purchase of $225,000, the city of Portland would buy the estate. 

The effort to renovate the mansion was around a year and a half and reconstructed the wounded mansion into a public historic house museum which opened in 1965. Now, a nonprofit organization known as the Pittock Mansion Society takes care of the house and provides tours and educational activities. 

If you’re looking for an amazing panorama shot on your phone, or just to soak in the lights of downtown Portland and the Willamette river, Pittock is a perfect vantage point. Both during the day and at night, Pittock is always open for people to come and snap some photos or learn about the mansion’s history. You can also get to go inside the mansion, as tours are offered by the Pittock Mansion Society if you want a hands-on experience of the house. 

If you’re seeking an authentic Portland experience or a photo shoot with your friends, the Pittock Mansion is a good spot to check out. Its historical significance may be unknown to some, but it’s definitely worth exploring. So, if you ever find yourself with some time on your hands, Pittock Mansion is a great place to spend your day with friends or family.