Calling Henry Pittock!
Henry Pittock was a natty hipster boy who lived in Eugene, Oregon a long time ago. He sported jumpsuits, track suits, and occasionally the odd sharkskin suit, all without much irony. He hung on the arm of all the beautiful, equally quirky girls. I didn't really know Henry Pittock, but I thought it must be wonderful to be related to and named after Henry Pittock, of the Pittock Mansion in Portland.
The Pittock mansion sits very high above Portland in the west hills. Its so high it feels like you're on eye-level with airplanes as you look down at the river, and off to the peaks of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. The view is astonishing, and is visible from every east-facing room, including the master bathroom. The house is grand, filled with beautiful furniture, made of gorgeous wood, plaster molding, and marble. The butler's kitchen charmed me with its hard, intricately placed rubber floor tile and huge counters for final serving preparation. The enormous, ornate stove was a chromed marvel. Imagining that thing all fired up and filling the kitchen with steam and roasted dinner smells was fantastic! The pantry was as cozy as could be with all the little drawers, shelves and one narrow window at the end. The refrigerator "room" was completely tiled and kept cool with ice. The beautiful wooden elevator was put in after Mrs. Pittock had a stroke. There were wings for daughters and their families, and a lovely carriage house which is now the gift shop. I am still regretting my sudden cowardice when the nice guide lady asked if anyone wanted to play their piano in the jewel of a music room. I LOVED the house, and was especially impressed when I learned that Mrs. Pittock's bed was once owned by Mary Todd Lincoln's family. I get so excited about this stuff, I swear to god the first time I take the White House tour, I will pass out.
The quality and artistic detail in the house reminded me of my great-grandmother, Edla Swinney. Her big house in Santa Monica had a similar aesthetic from the huge, dark wood built-in buffet, to the "sleeping porches" that let in light and air in the hotter months. The Thomas Moore paintings that decorate the mansion are in ornate gilded frames that my great grandmother also had. The china and linens were very much the same, I have some from my last trip to Santa Monica! Tragically, Nana's house burned down 25 years ago, and along with its wonderful gardens and ancient avocado trees, old carriage house and brick patio, was torn down and turned into apartments. Visiting the Pittock house, although about 6 times the size of Nana's, is like seeing a little of her impossibly elegant world.