Albert Hugh Irwin 1893-1980

Albert Hugh Irwin was born in Cheboygan, Michigan on March 26, 1893 and came west as a youngster, settling in as a helper on a farm near Vanora, an unincorporated rural area northwest of Madras in Jefferson County.

3650 NE Merges Drive, built by A.H. Irwin in 1929. Photo courtesy of Paul Crocker.

3650 NE Merges Drive, built by A.H. Irwin in 1929. Photo courtesy of Paul Crocker.

He attended Oregon State College (now OSU) from 1913-1915 studying topics ranging from agriculture to architecture. Irwin enlisted and served in the military during World War I. Arriving in Portland in the early 1920s on the crest of a building boom, Irwin took to designing and building fine homes in northeast Portland and in the West Hills, many of them clustered in Beaumont and Alameda, several near NE Merges and 38th.

In addition to designing and building homes, Irwin built a Buddhist temple in 1931 on North Benton Street, which no longer exists, cleared in the 1960s to make room for construction of Memorial Coliseum (Benton Street no longer appears on Portland maps). In 1938 he built the Helen Bernhardt Bakery building at 1717 NE Broadway.

In all, Irwin is known to have built 31 homes, several of them of significant size. His designs from the late 1920s and early 1930s utilize similar materials: rough stone around a rounded wooden door; steeply peaked roofs; ornate front windows. These earlier designs tend toward Tudor and Norman influences. His later homes utilize brick and tend toward Colonial influences. A complete listing of houses he built, is as follows:

Houses Built By Albert H. Irwin


2515 Willamette Blvd           1938

2939 Willamette Blvd          1940

6136 N. Wilbur                       1922


2807 NE Brazee                      1925

2826 NE Brazee                      1925

2905 NE Brazee                      1925

2925 NE Brazee                      1925

3015 NE Brazee                      1925

3025 NE Brazee                      1925

1717 NE Broadway               1938

635 NE Hazelfern                   1929

3236 NE Hoyt                          1921

3621 NE Klickitat                  1940

3715 NE Klickitat                  1940

3630 NE Merges                     1929

3633 NE Merges                    1927

3645 NE Merges                     1929

3650 NE Merges                     1929

3655 NE Merges                     1929

3660 NE Merges                     1929

3046 NE 10th                          1925

NE 18th and Fremont           1921    John Irwin House (Brother, no specific address listed)

2321 NE 28th                           1928

2415 NE 30th                          1925

2425 NE 30th                          1925

2507 NE 30th                          1925

2508 NE 30th                          1925

2805 NE 32nd Place                1938

2815 NE 32nd Place                1938

3045 NE 32nd Place                1937

3117 NE 32nd Place                1939

3126 NE 32nd Place                1940

3120 NE 37th Ave                   1928

3124 NE 37th                            1928

1546 NE 51st                             1922




1193 SE Garfield (old address not yet converted) 1931

2233 SE Grant                           1925

7110 SE Lafayette                   1923

2304 SE Lincoln                     1925

2314 SE Lincoln                      1925

2612 SE Lincoln                      1923    A.H. Irwin Residence

2622 SE Lincoln                     1923

7535 Reed College Place     1931

3448 SE Sherman                    1922

1940 SE 27th                           1923

1928 SE 27th                           1923

3105 NE 60th                          1923

3519 SE 71st                            1923

1328 SE 86th Ave.                   1923


2661 SW Buena Vista Drive   1931

2667 SW Buena Vista Drive   1931

9420 SW Capitol Highway      1937

4405 SW Condor                     1925

2656 SW Georgian Drive        1929

2515 S.W. Timberline             1963    Built for son-in-law Jack Crocker

2323 S.W. 19th                         1941


3087 NW Greenbrier Place     1936

Architect and builder Albert Hugh Irwin and his wife Ruth Marie Irwin. Taken in 1973. Photo courtesy of Paul Crocker, A.H. Irwin Collection.

Architect and builder Albert Hugh Irwin and his wife Ruth Marie Irwin. Taken in 1973. Photo courtesy of Paul Crocker, A.H. Irwin Collection.

Irwin’s interest in developing fine homes led to a career in real estate. In 1938, with his wife Ruth Marie Irwin (1899-2006), he opened the A.H. Irwin Company, later renamed the Irwin Realty Company, based at NE 27th and Broadway. Albert and Ruth raised two daughters-Patricia Crocker and Susan Mosely-in their home on Northeast Clackamas in Laurelhurst. Irwin was active in business until his death at age 87 on August 21, 1980.

-Doug Decker

20 responses

  1. This is so great! Thanks for doing all of this research. I own one of the homes listed above as built by Mr. Irwin.

    • Thank you so much for this wonderful history.
      Mr. & Mrs. Irwin were my grandparents; the best grandparents a child could hope for.

      • I’m so pleased you enjoyed this piece on Mr. Irwin. He was a master builder and developer. Please give my best to Paul.

      • Susan, I am delighted to discover this page. My husband and I are building a house and we would like to recreate an Irwin house. His style is so beautiful and classic! Does your family have copies of his blueprints? If not, do you know where I might find them? Sincerely, Laura Dieter

  2. I pass by 3650 NE Merges Drive house often. It’s always been one of my favorite houses in our neigborhood. Thanks for the background info!

    • The Irwin houses in this neighborhood are quite nice and in very good shape 80 years on. I think he’d be pleased to see them today…

    • Thanks Dennis. Right you are. Plumbing permit filed May 13, 1927. I’ve sent you a copy of the original plumbing permit, and will add the address to the list.

  3. I’m pretty sure this was the builder of my house at 4228 N.E. Siskiyou in Beaumont. Thanks for all your research and enjoyable website! I had fun at your recent talk at the Mission as well.


    • Hi Brett. Thanks for the kind words. I pulled up the original plumbing permit for your house and it suggests the builder was W.C. Wright, and that the house was completed in April of 1926. Could possibly be an Irwin, but best bet would be to check with the city to see if they have the original building permit on file. Usually, the plumbing permit is a very good indication.

  4. Thanks Doug. I was basing my guess on the description of his Norman style house construction, but you’e the expert! I’ll have to do some more research on W.C. Wright and check the city records. Thanks again!


  5. Me. And Mrs. Irwin were my grandparents. I have many memories of visiting them over the years as our family lived in other states. They were such great grandparents!

    Thanks for the history – much appreciated.

    • Thank you, Diane. Would be glad to visit for any additional information you’d like to share. The houses your grandfather built have stood the test of time, that’s for sure.

  6. We live next door at 3660 NE Merges – another charming Irwin house. The wonderful book you did for our house was given to us by the previous owners. Chock full of history, including the photo of our house on front page of the Oregon Journal paper – a week before the 1929 stock market crash.
    Thanks Doug!

    Kevin Reedy

    • Hi Kevin. I really enjoyed researching that house and learning about Albert Irwin. His homes were all so well thought out and attractive. It was quite a find to be able to locate his son who had the photo collection, a treat to be able to see it so soon after construction. Irwin was busy in that entire block and his houses have all passed the test of time. Thanks for writing.

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