A hidden place called Gleneyrie

Today, we think of the Alameda neighborhood as one contiguous area with well-recognized boundaries: The city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement identifies Alameda as that area from Prescott on the north to Knott on the south; from NE 21st on the west to NE 33rd on the East. One single named neighborhood today, containing about 2,400 dwellings and more than 5,000 people.

But hiding underneath today’s one single map is a treasure of 23 old maps—subdivision plats—all drawn at different times by different people as they transformed this landscape one small piece at a time from forests and fields to the grid of streets we know today. We’ve been taking a systematic look at these plats, some of which like one particularly chaotic collision just north of Knott, we’ve written about.

Here’s one we’ve been looking into recently: Gleneyrie, a subdivision plat filed in July 1911 by three couples who were the principals of the Tate Investment Company: Thomas and Inez Foster; Jost and Maria Held; and Robert and Nellie Tate. That fall, they placed their first ad for the property, below, which was then still just a concept (click in for a larger view).

From The Oregonian, October 22, 1911

The Tate Company investors purchased their 24 acres of the former Bowering Homestead Donation Land Claim in the years after the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition with an eye toward real estate development. The surrounding open fields, orchards and dairy property were rapidly being converted to residential use to keep up with Portland’s booming real estate market and population. And there was much money to be made by investors ready to speculate on a rising market. The Tate Investment Company also developed Dixon Place, another plat just north of Fremont between NE 15th and NE 21st avenues.

Here’s a look at the official Gleneyrie plat, filed with the Multnomah County Surveyor and County Clerk on July 25, 1911: from NE 24th to NE 29th, between Siskiyou and Knott.

One week later, Tate added additional area to Gleneyrie taking in East 26th and 27th north to the existing boundary on the eastern edge of the plat.

The namesake Gleneyrie was a Tudor-style castle in Colorado built in 1871 by William Jackson Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs: big, beautiful, fancy and well-known. And the name sounded good too, which was key. By 1915, Portland developers had filed more than 900 plats—development plans that divide an acreage into a subdivision of lots and streets—many of which were as small as one block or less, and all named by developers searching for an attractive sounding name.

Today’s Alameda neighborhood is made up of 23 separate plats, all filed at different times by different developers who were competing with each other and speculating on market conditions when they bought chunks of what had been old homesteads and farms claimed in the 1850s and 1860s.

In some areas the plats have retained their distinct personality and name. But here in Alameda—named for the 1909 Alameda Park Addition plat filed just to the north—the identity of the individual plats like Gleneyrie eventually dissolved into the commonly used neighborhood name we know today.

But in the Spring of 1913, when having a catchy name might help compete with all the other real estate advertising, the Tate Investment Company pushed out a series of full-page and half-page illustrated ads in The Oregonian and the Oregon Journal to market the attributes of their new subdivision. And they tied their marketing more closely to Irvington—a well established prestigious brand—than to Alameda, which had just been launched (and was trying to coattail on Irvington as well).

From The Oregonian, April 14, 1913

From The Oregonian, April 20, 1913

While all this advertising was underway, work out on the ground of what was Gleneyrie transformed the property from what were rolling fields into a mostly level subdivision. Significant grading work was done on the property to remove hills and fill in swales and ponds. Newspaper accounts from 1913 indicated 50,000 cubic yards of fill was removed: that’s more than 4,000 modern-day dump truck loads.

One of the leading early builders in Gleneyrie was Arnt Anderson, one of the two-dozen-plus builders we’ve written about on The Builders page. Anderson built some amazing homes that have passed the test of time…before he was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for grand larceny.

Today, ask anyone to tell you where Gleneyrie is and you’ll probably get a blank stare. But back in the day, the folks at the Tate Investment Company were trying hard to make it a household name. Literally.

Wondering about the other 22 plats in today’s Alameda? Here’s the full list: Alameda Park, Homedale, Olmsted Park, Irvington, Edgemont, Pearson’s Addition, Town of Wayne, Town of Wayne Replat, Waynewood, Irvingwood, Meadow Park, Dunsmeade, Irvindale, Hillside, George Place, Gile Addition, Bowering Donation Land Claim Tract, Norton’s Subdivision, Stanton Street Addition, Hudson’s Addition and Meadow Park.

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