Lifetime Portland resident Frank Read had an eye for Tudor and colonial-influenced architecture. Of the 18 homes he built in Alameda Park, all but his first (which was a bungalow) trace their design roots to those styles. A cluster of nearby homes built in the late 1930s and 1940s near the Alameda Ridge have colonial roots. Others are from the Tudor revival style complete with exterior faux beams. In addition to being the general contractor, Read was also likely the primary designer of these homes, a common practice during this period.
His colonial-influenced homes are distinctive for their use of a garrison style overhang between the first and second floor, and pendant “drops” at the corners. He was also fond of plunging rooflines from the roof peak to just above the entry, tracing a link to early 17th Century New England homes. Regardless of design reference, Frank Read homes used many of the same building materials.
In addition to Read’s strong sense for design, he clearly had good business sense for real estate development and for construction economies of scale. The above-the-ridge homes are all located within 100 yards of each other. The places he chose to build were a quick walk from a stop on the Broadway streetcar which ran to 29th and Mason. Read had a good eye for developing the best of the remaining lots in the neighborhood that had not been built on until the 1930s.
Read was born in Portland on October 5, 1885 and lived here all his life. He died on June 20, 1950, survived by his wife Mae and three brothers. Mae, seven years his junior, died less than a month later on July 17, 1950. The 1930 Federal Census shows Frank and Mae living in Laurelhurst at 3469 NE Oregon. Polk city directories verify the Reads as long-time occupants of that home-it’s where they were living in 1950. The 1920 Federal Census shows them renting on NE 67th Avenue.
No obituary for Read appears in The Oregonian, though death notices for Frank run in the paper for several days and a funeral notice as well. A brief three-paragraph obituary ran in The Oregon Journal on June 24, 1950 (below).
The obituary describes Read as a builder and contractor for 40 years, so it is reasonable to surmise that other houses he built or worked on are in neighborhoods throughout the city. A search of permits for the Alameda Park, Olmsted, Homedale, Irvington and George Place additions (component parts of today’s Alameda Neighborhood) show 16 other homes built by Read. The earliest of his work I have found is a bungalow style home at 3630 NE 22nd Avenue, built in 1923. The other homes, including permit dates and construction cost, are listed below:
Homes built by Frank A. Read
2244 NE Alameda 3 April 1936 $8700
2645 NE Alameda, 7 January 1936 $8,700
2705 NE Alameda 2 July 1935 $8,500
3100 NE Alameda 10 March 1938 $9,000
3141 NE Alameda 7 May 1941 $12,000
3265 NE Alameda 15 September 1934 $10,000
3015 NE Dunckley 5 January 1939 $9,000
3025 NE Dunckley 3 April, 1939 $10,000
3055 NE Dunckley 17 November 1938 $8,000
3129 NE Bryce 30 September 1939 $7,800
3137 NE Bryce 16 November 1939 $8,500
2105 NE Klickitat 1938
3630 NE 22nd 22 June 1923 $5,800
3733 NE 28th 20 March, 1935 $9,000
4213 NE 28th 15 July, 1924 $5,700
3838 NE 29th 23 June 1939 $7,800
4040 NE 29th 21 February 1940 $6,000
4050 NE 29th 21 February 1940 $6,000
I’m confident there are others in the neighborhood, so I will add to this list over time.
Resources regarding Oregon and Portland architects/builders do not list Frank A. Read, which is not unusual. Other home builders as prolific as Read are also not mentioned.