Pittock Mansion, Portland
You've snatched a broken-down, historic home from developers who wanted to build on its 46-acre site with sweeping river and mountain views. Now what? That was the question facing a band of Portlanders who, in 1964, convinced the city to buy the Pittock Mansion, a French Renaissance chateau.
"They used furniture out of their own homes so the mansion wouldn't be empty on the first public tours, " says Matthew Roman, a member of the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission, "and then they began to methodically furnish it with the best. "
Commissioned by Henry Pittock, owner of the Oregonian, and completed in 1914, the house was built by Oregon craftsmen using materials mainly from the Northwest, including the exterior's Tenino sandstone from Washington state. Restorations have revived the interior, with its mahogany-paneled craftsman dining room, French-style drawing room with crystal chandeliers, and Turkish smoking room. Period furnishings include the Pittocks' 1887 Steinway piano.
"It took a while for the Pittock to become the premier house museum of the Pacific Northwest," Roman says. "But right from the start, Portlanders embraced this landmark. "
More great houses in the West open their doors to curious visitors.
Bidwell Mansion: Legendary three-story 1868 Italian-style villa, made of brick covered in pink stucco, that in its day hosted everyone from President Rutherford B. Hayes to Susan B. Anthony.
Craigdarroch Castle: Extravagant 1890 Victorian built for a coal magnate; four floors of wood paneling, stained glass, and period furnishings.
Deepwood Museum & Gardens: Five acres including an exceptional 1894 Queen Anne with vintage furnishings and landmark English gardens designed in the 1930s.
Filoli: Sprawling country estate with landmark formal gardens and a 1917 Georgian house designed by architect Willis Polk; featured in the TV series Dynasty.
Haas-Lilienthal House: A stately 11,500-square-foot showcase containing period furnishings representative of upper-middle-class Victorian life.
Iolani Palace: The 1882 Italianate home of Hawaii's last two monarchs—King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Lili‘uokalani.
McConnell Mansion: A two-story 1886 blend of Victorian architectural styles; period rooms from late-19th-century parlors to a 1930s kitchen.