Mid-Century Modern architecture revolutionized the way Americans live. Seven decades after it was widely adopted, people still desire the spare aesthetic qualities of open interiors with sliding glass walls that dissolve barriers to the outdoors.
Early proponents of Modernism might be surprised to realize that Modern is now historic and needs as much protection from the wrecking ball as Victorian-era and Craftsman-style homes.
Oregon’s only Mid-Century Modern Alcoa Carefree Home, one of 24 experimental houses built across the country to showcase the versatility of aluminum, was razed to new owners in September 2021.
An excavator grabbed and crumpled the aluminum roof and toppled the Kool Aid-colored walls and ceilings of the 1957 dwelling in southwest Portland. A truck picked up decorative handmade window grilles woven with peacock blue aluminum rods and a royal blue corrugated front door.
“We see old homes being torn down every day, some of them really hurt, like the loss of the Alcoa home in southwest Portland,” says Nicole Possert, executive director of Restore Oregon, the statewide historic preservation organization. “We also celebrate those places that are preserved, reused and passed on.”
Since 2011, Restore Oregon has held an annual celebration of Mid-Century Modern design, with educational presentations and tours of private residences designed by modern masters of Pacific Northwest regional style, including architects Pietro Belluschi, John Yeon , William Fletcher, Saul Zaik, Van Evera Bailey and John Storrs as well as prolific property developer Robert Rummer, who popularized glass atrium entrances.
Restore Oregon’s home visits were halted for two years during the coronavirus pandemic, but on May 6 and 7, the nonprofit will offer a series of fundraising events, including a visit, talk and a book fair.
On Friday, May 6, A celebration of mid-century modern design and a book launch pays homage to modern architecture in post-WWII Oregon and the publication of Restore Oregon’s first book, “Oregon Made, A Tour of Regional Mid-Century Modern Architecture” ($35 to restorationoregon.org503-243-1923).
The 110-page book, featuring photos and descriptions of more than 20 significant homes, will be part of the Restore Oregon architecture and landscape-focused book fair beginning at 5:30 p.m. May 6 at Jupiter NEXT Arium Ballroom, 900 E. Burnside St. in Portland.
People will have the opportunity to talk to authors and publishers and purchase copies of the Restore Oregon book as well as
Also at the Arium Ballroom from 6:30 p.m. on May 6, architect Paul McKean will talk about his restoration of architect Richard Campbell’s modern cottage, the Cain-Wong Residence, in southwest Portland.
The 1966 house exhibits the modern design characteristics of the area with the use of locally grown Douglas fir as beams and cedar planks on the ceilings as well as transparent walls and openings to provide 360 degree views of the forest.
On Saturday, May 7, McKean will be at visit to the historic Campbell residencewith tickets limited to 80 guests ($75 to restorationoregon.org). Jeff Weithman of Real Estate Through Design/(w)here Real Estate will open the doors to the award-winning treehouse-like dwelling and showcase original house plans.
Restore Oregon’s preservation and education programs raise awareness of Oregon’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage and generate funds for the nonprofit, which helps people who save and revitalize places and spaces which, in turn, make communities inclusive, vibrant, livable and sustainable.
Possert says the organization continues to advocate for stronger tools and financial incentives to help all older resources.
“As we work to minimize casualties,” she says, “our hope is that people who appreciate mid-century modernity will stay involved, beyond a lecture or a visit, to support our mission. to save historic places throughout the year”.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072
email@example.com | @janeteastman
Learn about Oregon’s historic homes and places:
• Portland Japanese Garden buys the Salvation Army’s White Shield campus as an education and conference center
• Saving spectacular Oregon homes from the wrecking ball: Could the Alcoa home in Portland have been saved or salvaged?
• The restored Phoenix Pharmacy building in southeast Portland will reopen with the Foster Outdoor store
• Oregon’s “Terrible Tilly” lighthouse on a private island for sale for $6.5 million
• Portland homes designed by Pietro Belluschi are synonymous with camaraderie
• Two Pearl District townhouses in the old train station are for sale, starting at $1,575,000
• An abandoned mid-century modern bank in southeast Portland becomes the company’s sleek headquarters (see before and after photos)
• The storied Portland Heights mansion on a triple lot is on sale for $3,250,000
• As landscape architects, two Oregon women laid the foundation for many of the Northwest’s sustainable gardens
• See 7 Mid-Century Future Homes: Oregon Restoration Tour
• Glass-walled Rummer House open on Restore Oregon’s Mid-Century Modern Home Tour