Thousands of hands have shaped our homes and surroundings here in the neighborhoods of Northeast Portland: designing, digging, building, crafting, selling.
The men and women who imagined and then built our neighborhood in the early 1900s are gone now, and mostly unremembered. But their work is durable enough that today, we take it for granted. Do many of us wonder about how the bones of our houses came together, or the people behind the construction? Probably not. But there are important stories to be told. Remembering them adds context to our own residency here. And tipping our hat to the builders is the right thing to do.
A few things to keep in mind as you read through these pages:
- The research behind these stories is ongoing and based on first-person interviews and information gathered from descendants of the builders and other primary sources. If you have information about any of these people, can offer a referral to someone who might, or have suggestions or tips about other builders, please drop me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Many of these builders were Mom-and-Pop (or brother-and-brother) operations. So when I focus in on Frank Read, for instance, let’s not forget the contributions of his wife Mae, who undoubtedly helped with everything from keeping the books to applying for the building permits. The people who built these houses put their hearts and their hands into it. It was their life’s work.
Click on the builder’s name to see the addresses of his work and a short biography.
Builder of Craftsman homes in Irvington, Alameda, Beaumont and Laurelhurst, and convicted con man. Busy here in Portland from 1912-1915.
Builder of eastside Craftsman bungalows in the teens and 1920s.
Prolific mid-century builder of cottage, ranch and contemporary homes, often in unique and challenging building sites, 1932-1952.
A long time “lumberman” who had already had a career in the upper Midwest, Bohn incorporated as a homebuilder and investment company to capitalize on the opportunity of the 1920s.
From 1926-1928, Chandler built more than a dozen homes in Beaumont near the intersection of NE 41st and Alameda.
Builder of bungalows in Alameda and Beaumont from 1911-1921.
Ertz was a builder’s architect, as comfortable supervising construction as designing commercial and residential buildings. He’s responsible for the Beaumont Market, the former Lloyd Golf Course Clubhouse, the Art-Deco Salvation Army Headquarters on Sandy Boulevard and many others
Part booster, part builder, Graves parlayed his experience as an engineer in World War 1 into an ability to manage large projects, building more than 70 bungalows in Irvington during the height of the building boom 1925-1926. Graves worked with architect H.H. Menges whose motto was “You furnish the lot, and I’ll furnish the plans.”
A flare for Norman and Tudor styles, built in Beaumont, Dolph Park, Alameda, Portland Heights, Overlook and many other neighborhoods from the 1920s-1940s.
Advertised himself as the “builder of pleasant homes,” later a real estate agent.
Homebuilder and cabinet maker teamed up in the 1920s to build many Alameda-area homes.
Austrian immigrant who started his homebuilding career at age 45, former waiter, brother of owner of Jake’s.
An enterprising young builder form the 19-teens, Kibler returned from his service in World War 1 to become Portland’s “reliable builder,” constructing more than 300 homes on Portland’s eastside.
One of Portland’s most prolific home builders of the 1920s and former Alameda resident.
Prolific builder in Beaumont, 1922-1970.
Advertising himself as “Master Builder” and Builder of Finer Homes,” this Swedish immigrant built dozens of homes in Alameda, Rose City Park and Eastmoreland.
A Russian immigrant who started his building career as a violin maker, and later worked on Portland’s eastside from the 1920s through the early 1950s.
One of Portland’s earliest big builders, this company operated from 1912-1917 before going bankrupt.
Swedish immigrant, favored Craftsman-styled homes
His work defines the Gile Terrace and NE Ridgewood area.
This Scottish immigrant builder started out building bungalows in Montavilla and a four-square on NE Broadway before building Grant High School and multiple large projects in Portland and in the Klamath Falls area.
Colonial revival style in Alameda both above and below the ridge, from 1923-1940.
A practicing architect in Portland and on the faculty at the University of Oregon School of Architecture in 1916-1917, Rich designed public buildings, wrote columns on architecture for The Oregonian, and finished a high profile Alameda home before leaving architecture and Oregon for good in 1918.
Rose City Park, Roseburg and Seattle 1908-1939
A “builder’s builder,” known for exacting standards and larger homes.
Portland’s busiest concrete sidewalk and curb contractor; Alameda resident.