Born in Wrigstad, Sweden on October 12, 1882, Emil George Peterson followed family members who immigrated to Portland in 1906. The 1910 Census shows him as a home builder living with his wife Anna (also from Sweden) in the Hillsdale area of Portland. The couple was married in Portland in 1908.
Emil Peterson in December 1957 on the steps of the home he built at 422 SE 69th Avenue
In 1911, Peterson and the Colonial Construction Company built three three-story Craftsman-style houses on NE 32nd Place, just south of Shaver: 3932, 3933 and 3927 NE 32nd Place. Permits for the homes indicate Peterson worked on all three simultaneously: they shared common design features and building materials, and were likely constructed by the same workers. He was 28 years old at the time.
In September 1918, Peterson registered to serve in the draft for World War I and listed his employment at that time as a ship builder for the Foundation Ship yard in Northwest Portland. He and Anna lived on Interstate Avenue at the time, in a home that was later razed to make room for Memorial Coliseum. In the 1920s, Peterson returned to homebuilding, including the following addresses, many in the Alameda neighborhood:
3927 NE 32nd Place (1911)
3932 NE 32nd Place (1911)
3933 NE 32nd Place (1911)
422 SE 69th (1920)
4053 NE 31st (1922)
3026 NE Skidmore (1922)
4025 N Castle (1922)
4333 NE 29th (1923)
3264 NE Alameda (1923)
2724 NE Dunckley (1923)
2635 NE Ridgewood (1924)
He built many more homes in Eastside neighborhoods between 1920-1950
In 1930, Emil and Anna Peterson are listed as owning their own home at 422 Southeast 69th Avenue, which he built in 1920. His occupation is listed as “house contractor.”
Two of his larger construction projects were the Temple Baptist Church at NE 7th and Clackamas (which still stands today), and a major addition to the Oregon Baptist Retirement Home at NE 26th and Glisan Street.
In 2010, I began a correspondence with his great-grand nephew in Sweden, Michael Winberg, who conveyed Peterson’s pride in his work and his love for Portland. Winberg shared these photos, used with his permission. Peterson died in Portland on July 6, 1960.
Emil sent these two pictures home to Sweden:
Home of Emil and Anna Peterson, 422 SE 69th
Emil Peterson and his car about 1957.
From The Oregonian, July 8, 1960