Sunday, September 27, 2020
Sept. 27, 2020

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Portland mansion Beverly Cleary called haunted is for sale at $5 million


PORTLAND — As the Pittock Mansion was rising on a northwest bluff overlooking the young city of Portland in 1914, across the Willamette River, on Northeast Portland’s Alameda Ridge, another self-made millionaire, Frank Barnes, was completing his trophy home.

Both Henry Pittock and Barnes crossed the plains to Oregon with ambition and few material assets. Pittock prospered as a publisher and entrepreneur, while Barnes cashed in big on salmon.

The 16,000-square-foot Pittock Mansion, a French Renaissance Revival-style chateau clad in sandstone, capped with turrets and fronted by a veranda, is owned by the city and open to the public.

The 11,443-square-foot Barnes Mansion at 3533 N.E. Klickitat St. is for sale at $4,995,000.

Both storied estates were designed by architects respected for their ability to achieve a pleasing blend of styles and were constructed by the best craftsmen installing the finest materials.

The Barnes Mansion is an eclectic mix of English Jacobethan with a grand Colonial Revival portico and Arts and Crafts details.

The stained glass windows were most likely created by Portland’s Povey Brothers Studio, which was known as the Tiffany of the Northwest.

Both well-to-do property owners hired Portland draftsman-designer Frederick C. Baker to come up with original chandeliers and other lighting fixtures.

Both majestic estates are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Pittock Mansion was listed in 1974 and the Barnes Mansion in 1983.

As famous as the Pittock Mansion is, however, the Barnes Mansion has earned notoriety as a landmark in literary icon Beverly Cleary’s beloved Ramona Quimby children’s books.

Cleary, who grew up near the Barnes Mansion, knew it when the four-level structure had fallen on hard times. She wrote that the house, on the Klickitat Street she made famous, was haunted.

The gilded mansion, with a ballroom and 18-carat gold threads in the drawing room’s wall fabric, was in danger of being torn down. But neighbors stopped the bulldozers in 1958.

It was abandoned and vandalized, and then thrashed by the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, as was the Pittock Mansion.

By the 1970s, the Barnes Mansion’s true stucco exterior and classic adornments were concealed under drab gray paint.

“It was very scary looking,” the longtime owner, who grew up next door, told Old House Journal in 2011. “Kids were afraid of it because the owners played a pipe organ that shook the whole neighborhood.”

The four-level house has since been rescued and restored to its original elegance, and was the highlight of the Architectural Heritage Center’s 2012 Heritage Home Tour.

People who have expressed interest in buying the estate appreciate “the way it has been preserved, its privacy, history and setting,” says listing agent Tim Walters of RE/MAX Equity Group, who also grew up in the neighborhood. “The house has a great feel to it.”

All of the original beveled and stained glass windows and doors, in a variety of patterns, have survived as has solid Honduras mahogany paneling.

Leather wainscot decorates the dining room and some of the century old wallpaper is still in place, he says.

Walters says owners and historians have thoroughly researched the historic house — “a deep search down to dirt,” he says — to reveal its fascinating story.

Frank C. Barnes, who was a leader in the Pacific Northwest salmon packing industry, carved out about three blocks from his land holdings to create a compound for his large family.

He envisioned his 32-room mansion on top of Alameda Ridge to be surrounded by six residential lots he could award as a dowry to each of his six daughters, upon which they could build a home.

Barnes named the division Irene Heights after one of his daughters.

All but one of his daughters lived within a few blocks of each other and all of their husbands work in one of Barnes’ enterprises: the cannery, cold storage and ice company or a brokerage firm.

Daughter Ivy, who married into the Starr family that owned the largest, independent packing business in the Northwest, lived on Northeast Hancock Street in Irvington.

But Barnes’ only son and namesake, Frank, moved to the ridge on northeast 36th Avenue in 1916.

For a long time, Barnes’ wishes came true.

The Barnes family lived near each other.

Included on the one-acre property is a self-contained apartment, an accessory dwelling unit, above a modern garden.