H.R. “Hallie” Kibler was a prolific eastside Portland homebuilder who began his career in the mid-19-teens at age 22, building distinctive Craftsman bungalows that survive today. His building business was interrupted by service as an engineer in France during during World War 1. He returned to Portland, built a home for his family in Alameda and relaunched home construction in northeast Portland and later in southeast Portland.
Hallie Kibler, 1918
Born in Ottumwa, Iowa on August 16, 1892, Hallie and his family were living near Englewood, Colorado in 1907 when Kibler’s mother Anna and her baby both died in childbirth. In 1910, Hallie was 17 years old, living in Los Angeles with his grandmother, father and cousins and working as a carpenter. Kibler arrived in Portland in 1914 and jumped into a busy homebuilding market as a journeyman carpenter. The first homes he built in 1914-1915 are the two bungalows still standing at the northwest corner of NE 33rd and Prescott.
Kibler quickly developed a reputation as a capable and reliable builder, which became part of his brand:
From The Oregon Daily Journal, March 6, 1921
He served as a Second Lieutenant in the 116th Oregon Engineer Battalion in France during World War 1, and returned to Portland after the war, married Florian Linklater, and built his own family home in the Alameda neighborhood: the bungalow at 4052 NE 30th Avenue, where the Kiblers lived for 10 years. Here’s a link to more about his military service, including several passages from a diary he kept at the front as hostilities drew to a close.
The 1920s were boom years of home construction in Portland and Kibler was busy, almost entirely on the eastside. In his newspaper advertisements in the late 1920s, he bragged that he had built more than 100 homes in Portland. In 1928, he moved to Eastmoreland.
The housing market ground to a standstill during the early 1930s, but Kibler kept building, aiming squarely for the middle market where some clients still had sufficient funds to be buying houses. His homes were solid and could even be stylish, but they were humble and compact as well. Here’s an ad for another English cottage that bears strong family resemblance to many others he built about the same time:
From The Oregonian, June 19, 1932
Kibler went on to build more than 300 homes in Portland during his long career. In 1941 he was elected president of the Oregon Building Congress and in 1944 he chaired the organization’s Post-war Modernization Committee, with recommendations to change zoning and build higher density developments.
Among other projects Kibler became known for was the Colonial Village Motor Court, a collection of 20 “tourist cabins” he built and owned in 1933, located in the 4700 block of SW Barbur Boulevard, which lasted until their demolition in 1974. Portland had several tourist cabin developments, including one that existed near today’s Fernhill Park, but was demolished in 2018.
A post card from one of Kibler’s projects, which was located at SW 47th and Barbur. The complex was torn down in 1974. Read more about it here.
Kibler died in Portland on March 6, 1983. A very partial listing of homes he built includes the following:
3289 NE Prescott (1914)
3277 NE Prescott (1915)
7418 SE 68th (1915)
4052 NE 30th (1921) The home where Kibler and his family lived until the early 1930s
2614 NE Bryce (1922)
2420 NE 15th (1925)
7438 SE 28th (1933)
7710 SE 35th (1934)