Max Shimshak 1897-1978

Max Shimshak was a prolific Portland homebuilder from 1920-1950, building many high-end homes on Portland’s eastside, in Lake Oswego and the Dunthorpe neighborhood.

Shimshak’s eastside work was concentrated in Alameda, Beaumont, Irvington, Dolph Park and Eastmoreland, He frequently worked with noted regional architects including Wade Pipes, Roscoe Hemenway and Francis Jacobberger. An article in The Oregonian in 1985 about the evolution of building practices recounted Shimshak’s demanding standards.

From The Oregonian, February 24, 1985

Born Manus Schimschak in Stepin, Russia on February 15, 1897, Shimshak immigrated to the US with many other Russian Jews fleeing violent pogroms, arriving in New York Harbor on May 23, 1911. He came to Portland in 1917, Americanized his name, and began his homebuilding career, starting with a home on NE 17th in Irvington. He was well known and respected in the Portland real estate market.

Shimshak was active in the Neveh Shalom and Neveh Zedek synagogues and oversaw construction of the Robinson Jewish Home. He was active in his construction business which he ran with his son Jack up until his retirement in 1977 at age 80. He died in Portland on April 27, 1978. For many years after his death, advertisements for houses he built continued to boast that they were a Max Shimshak home. He advertised himself as “Builder of Fine Homes.”

From The Oregon Journal, April 29, 1978

Shimshak frequently worked with well-known architects Roscoe Hemenway, Wade Pipes and Francis Jaccoberger. Hemenway designed more than 200 residences in the Portland area and like Shimshak, his work continues to be recognized and hold prestige today.

A partial list of homes built my Max Shimshak includes:

2945 NE 17th (1919)

2500 NE Mason (1927)

2447 NE Dunckley (1927)

3801 NE 21st (1927)

3854 NE 21st (1927)

4121 NE 24th (1928)

2510 NE Klickitat (1929)

3273 NE Dunckley (1930)

2920 NE 35th (1932)

3201 NE Alameda (1935)

2820 NE 17th (1936)