I’m a fan of the Alameda Old House History blog. Doug Decker does a great job of detailing the history of buildings in Portland’s Alameda neighborhood. He recently invited people to post pictures of favorite old houses, so I thought I’d post mine here and link back over to his blog post.
This is the house I lived in until I was 7. At that time, it was a slightly ramshackle Victorian house over in Portland’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Based on a house history by Barbara Grimala in the late 1980s or early 1990s after the family sold the house, here’s what I know. This Queen Anne Vernacular style house was built for Napoleon Bonaparte Pendleton in 1892. He lived there until he passed away in 1920. At the time of his death, he was living there with his wife Hattie, and Americus V. Pendleton’s widow Sara (love these names).
My grandmother and her husband purchased the house in 1943. During the time my family lived there, it was set up as a two family house, with separate living quarters upstairs and downstairs, with a kitchen and bath on each level. I’m guessing it was already divided when my grandmother bought it. My extended family lived there. My grandparents lived downstairs, and my aunt and uncle and cousin lived in what was most likely the front parlor downstairs, next to the winding staircase.
On the staircase, there were casement windows at each of the landings; the lower landing’s windows were small and at the perfect level for little girls pretending to be princesses. You can see the windows under and next to the porch roof. The upper landing window was taller. Each of these windows had squares of colored glass surrounding the main clear glass in the center of the window. Upstairs, the living room/dining room (pocket doors between!) belonged to my parents, my brother and sister and me. Across the hall was my bachelor uncle. My other uncle, aunt and cousin had the room at the end of the hall. That’s a lot of people! After my baby sister arrived, my parents bought the other house that I grew up in.
The picture above is from the early 1990’s, when I was home visiting from New York. I had always dreamed of owning this house and renovating it, but it was not meant to be. The house was sold after my uncle (the last family member to live there) passed away, and a subsequent owner did the renovation. It was gorgeous from the outside, with all the meticulous trimwork. The current tenant let me in to look around, and I was a little sad to note that all the original cedar bullseye moldings and doors had been painted white. (My current old Portland house, circa 1921, has pale walls and mahogany trim, as you can see in my previous post’s Christmas stocking mantel picture. We added the mantel and fireplace surround to match the rest of the trim in the house.)
I was in the neighborhood last year, and swung by to see the old house. I don’t know what happened, but the grande dame is looking tired.
A lot of the shingles are missing, the porch railings and balusters are rotting, the stone wall has fallen, and one of the windows upstairs at the back (bedroom, I think) is boarded over. Poor old house. But I have a lot of happy memories of growing up there, and going to my grandparents’ home for weekly dinners after moving out. And this is where my favorite aunt first taught me to knit! I learned more properly from her when I was 14, but this is where it all started. (This is the downstairs parlor auntie, Aunt Rose. Click her name for that story.)
Thanks to Doug Decker at Alameda Old House History for the thought-provoking, memory-eliciting prompt!
Do you have a favorite old house, or an old house story? Please share!
(Notes: The first picture is a scan of a photo I took in the 1990’s, before digital photography. The second picture is digital, so you can zoom in and see more detail.)