Emil Nilson was born in Kalix, Norbotten, Sweden in January 1888. He and his wife Ellen were both immigrants arriving in the US in 1907-08. They were married in Portland in 1915 and had one daughter, born here in 1919. During the 19-teens, Nilson worked as a carpenter for other builders. By the early 1920s, he was working on his own as builder/developer, focusing on the Alameda neighborhood in Northeast Portland. He lived in Rose City Park.
From The Oregonian, February 3, 1929
In the 1930s and 1940s, Nilson built dozens of homes in southeast and southwest Portland and branded himself as “Master Builder” and “Builder of Portland’s finer homes.” Nilson built multiple homes in Eastmoreland during the late 1930s, including 3231 SE Bybee; 6243 SE Reed College Place; and 6230 SE 34th Avenue.
Following his wife’s passing in 1943, Nilson moved to the Salem area, where he died in 1977 at age 89.