Max Kaffesider’s Portland building career, from 1918-1940, spanned one of the busiest times in Portland home construction. Born in Austria on July 12, 1873, Max immigrated to the United States in 1903 at age 31 via Liverpool and Montreal, and had at least two careers in Portland before becoming a builder.
He first appears in Portland city directories in 1906 living alone in a rented room and working as a cashier for a restaurant and catering company. In the following years, Max followed catering company owner Theo Kruse as he built and opened what became a well-known downtown Portland restaurant and bar called The Louvre.
Max married native Portlander Regina Gross on November 14, 1909. In 1911, Max’s younger brother Joseph joined him from Austria and the two worked side by side for a time as waiters at the Louvre and then at The Rainbow, which was also owned by Theo Kruse. Both establishments have a storied past, sometimes marked by controversy. Max left Portland on his own in 1917 and spent a year in San Francisco (where he appears in that city directory for 1917) working as a waiter before returning to Portland in 1918, where he appears in Portland city directories listed as a shipbuilder, living with wife Regina.
About this time, apparently equipped with carpentry skills and experience at age 45, Max took out his first-ever building permit to conduct a remodel on a building still standing today: an auto repair garage at 2137 NE Alberta. He later bought this building. Portland’s homebuilding market exploded in the early 1920s, attracting entrepreneurs near and far from other lines of work into the Portland residential and commercial construction business.
First home built by Max Kaffesider, 1921. 4334 NE 26th Avenue.
In 1921, Max built his first home, a bungalow at 4334 NE 26th Avenue. After that, he completed multiple homes each year until 1930. The 1930 federal census listed Max, age 58, as a “construction builder of residents,” and he and Regina were living in a duplex he built that stands today at 1312 NE Schuyler. City directories later in the 1930s and early 1940s indicate Max and Regina lived in Portland and worked in real estate.
In the late 1940s the couple moved to Oakland, California. Max died there at age 88, on January 27, 1960 and Regina died two months later on March 31, 1960. Max and Regina are buried together at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Max’s brother Joe went on to manage and later own Jake’s, a long-time Portland restaurant still in operation today. Joe’s son Maximillian was a successful real estate agent in southeast Portland and Milwaukie.
A list of known homes built by Max Kaffesider includes:
2137 NE Alberta (1918) repairs to auto garage
2137 NE Alberta (1921) Repairs to a garage
4334 NE 26th (1921)
2623 NE Skidmore (1922)
2633 NE Skidmore (1922)
4121 NE 29th (1922)
2410 NE Dunckley (1923)
3027 NE Mason (1923)
2806 NE Bryce (1924)
2324 NE 14th (1925)
1312 NE Schuyler (1926)
2730 NE 30th (1927)
2922 NE 32nd (1927)
2826 NE 29th (1928)
2805 NE 30th (1928)
3244 NE 42nd (1928)
2305 NE 54th (1928)
2834 NE 27th (1930)