Editor’s Note: Welcome to Portland Monthly’s “Property Watch” column, where we’ll take regular looks at interesting homes on the market in Portland’s super-competitive real estate market (with periodic ventures to the burbs and points beyond, for good measure). This week: A Victoria era charmer in Astoria with all the period details. Know a property that you think would be a good match for this feature? Get in touch at [email protected].
In the late 1800s, Astoria was Oregon's "it" city. The port was founded in 1811, and is the oldest city in the state and the first settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. (It’s named for John Jacob Astor, the NYC-based businessman and first millionaire who dominated the local fur trade for a time, despite never setting foot in the area, and whose company established Fort Astoria.)
The city’s late-19th century industry attracted Nordic and Chinese immigrants to work in fishing and canning, as well as people like Alexandre Gilbert, who was born in France and moved to Astoria in 1881 upon hearing about Oregon’s “cheap” land. Gilbert built this Queen Anne charmer in 1893, just four blocks up the hill from downtown, before going on to operate saloons, hotels, and boarding houses, sell insurance and real estate. Eventually, he was elected as the mayor of Seaside.
The four-story house, painted a rich gray-blue with punchy red accents, has many of the exterior flourishes we love in Victorians, like decorative trim and corbels, a bay window, and fish scale shingles on the front façade. A hand-painted plaque by the front door offers a brief outline of Gilbert’s history, while inside, additional historic features include the stained-glass above the entry, a classic bannister staircase, and a recessed balcony with pretty arches on the second floor.
The main floor layout is fairly open for a house of this age, yet also incorporates modern updates, such as the kitchen’s quartz counters and stainless-steel appliances. Perfect period details, like the tall, wood pocket doors with their ornate hardware, and the original floors and wood windows, have been restored. Both bathrooms, one up and one down, have clawfoot tubs.
Upstairs, there are also three bedrooms, and a large window that provides access to the balcony, from which you can enjoy views of the Columbia River and the lights of the Astoria-Megler Bridge at night.
This historic house has survived 128 years, including the terrible 1922 fire that destroyed 30 blocks of Astoria, one of the worst in Oregon’s history. But since there is also an unfinished basement and attic space, there’s also potential for the new owners to expand on history. The attic even has skylights already in place that frame more river and bridge views.
Listing Fast Facts:
Address: 388 3rd Street, Astoria
Size: 3,101 square feet, 3 bed/2 bath
List Date: 7/7/2021
Listing Agent: Sarah Jane Bardy, Cascade Sothebys International Realty
Melissa Dalton is a freelance writer who has focused on Pacific Northwest design and lifestyle since 2008. She is based in Portland, Oregon. Contact Dalton here.