Irvington Homes Tour May 19

Swerve into Irvington for a look at historic houses that once were within the discriminatory "red line."

By Kristin Belz April 29, 2013

Seven of the eight historic homes on this year's Irvington Home Tour are west of NE 15th street, in the area that was "red lined" by banks for decades.

The 31st annual Irvington Home Tour is Sunday, May 19, 2013. House tours are common these days, but this one is special: it's Portland's longest continually running neighborhood home tour, and in 2010, the neighborhood itself was designated a National Register listed Historic District, making it the largest historic district in the state. 

Irvington was built up in the boom years after the Lewis and Clark Exposition took place in Portland in 1905. Development was literally crossing from the relatively built out downtown on the west side of the Willamette, via the streetcar and new bridges (the Broadway Bridge opened in 1913, the Steel Bridge in 1912, and the Burnside Bridge in 1926).

Of course, it's not like the historic homes in Irvington are a secret by now. The neighborhood has had its act together a long time and been a local leader in preservation of the residential fabric and tree-lined streets – at least since the 1960s, when Ralph Lloyd opened his Lloyd Center and urban renewal was all about demolishing old buildings and neighborhoods. 

The Irvington Community Association was formed in 1964 – the first such in the city. Its first tour of historic homes (again, the first of any in Portland) was 1967. Suburban flight was in full swing, and banks were still in full-on racist “red lining” mode for any property west of NE 15th Street, making it difficult for that area to do anything but deteriorate.  

The Irvington district's house tour was sporadic for years, but became annual by the time gentrification and revitalization had taken hold in 1983. This year's tour features eight well-preserved and restored homes, most of them in the area west of NE 15th that had been red lined for all those years. As a bonus, the tour will also feature neighborhood gardens, presented by the Hardy Plant Society, and a lecture that spotlights Portland's historic gardens.

2013 Annual Irvington Home Tour
Date: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Time: 11 am to 5 pm
Tickets:  $25 (available at Caffe Destino, Broadway Books, or the Architectural Heritage Center, and online at the Irvington Home Tour website

Proceeds benefit the Irvington Community Association's Charitable Giving Program, which distributes funds to charitable organizations that enhance the quality of life for the neighborhood.

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