Real Estate

Property Watch: On Tabor, an Arts and Crafts Home by Architect Ellis F. Lawrence

Lawrence created the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon—no big deal.

By Melissa Dalton March 21, 2022

Editor’s Note: Portland Monthly’s “Property Watch” column takes a weekly look at an interesting home in Portland’s super-competitive real estate market (with periodic ventures to the burbs and points beyond, for good measure). This week: If only the walls could talk in this historic Tabor home. Got a home you think would work for this column? Get in touch at [email protected].

Sitting up on a terraced lot in the Mount Tabor neighborhood, this house comes with serious credentials. For starters, it was originally designed and built in 1912 by Portland architect Ellis F. Lawrence, who went on, two years later, to found and be first dean at the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. This was at a time when architecture education wasn’t much of a thing, and the program was the second to be established west of the Mississippi.  

Then in 1921, Lawrence was rehired to add on to the house for the newest owner, theater owner George Guthrie. Guthrie later built the Elsinore Theater in Salem, so what makes this 1920s addition so special is that it was basically a small prototype for the much bigger and grander Elsinore, which opened in 1926 and was also designed by Lawrence. 

Lawrence worked in many different styles, from Colonial to the occasional English Tudor. This house is an example of Arts and Crafts, which is said to be a favorite of the architect. The asymmetrical façade, made more off center by the obvious addition tucked under the swooping gabled roofline, is filled with small-paned windows in neat clusters. A stately stone path leads up to the front door, which opens to a gracious center hall foyer wrapped in Honduran mahogany.  

To the right, a cased opening with glass pocket doors leads to the dining room, covered in Oregon black walnut, with an arched fireplace surround and stained-glass windows displaying the Guthrie family crests. 

The dining room connects to a delightful sun room, defined by a bay of five nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. Then there’s the kitchen, modern in function, but dressed historic, with its thick marble counters, Liebherr fridge hidden behind cabinet fronts that look like an old-fashioned icebox, and a massive Lacanche stove on one wall.  

To the left of the foyer, down three steps, and through an arched opening, is a grand living room that feels like a swanky hotel lobby. There’s a lot of fantastic decorative touches in here, from the cast stone fireplace surround with delicate relief patterns to the embossed plaster on crown moldings and ceiling beams above to the finely painted parchment sconces on the wall. Through glass doors surrounded by side-lites and transoms, find a sunroom, and beyond that, a groovy kidney-shaped pool added in 1969. 

To the right of the fireplace is an arched doorway, and here’s where it gets fun: this is what the Guthrie family called the “art room” and was the main reason for their 1920s addition, bringing lots of unique decorative flourish into about 300 square feet. The plaster walls were made to look like stone blocks, with Corinthian capitals supporting arched wood beams, a vaulted ceiling covered in leather, and punctuated by four leaded glass skylights. There’s only one window, because this was probably intended to display the Guthrie family’s impressive art collection, but works equally well as a cozy TV room. 

At 6,253 square feet and three floors, on a 0.46-acre lot with three garages, there’s much more to appreciate—from the Fred Baker–designed light fixture in the living room, to the Lincrusta wainscoting—that’s embossed linoleum! on the wall!—to the bits of stone collected from downtown Portland streets when the streetcar went in, and reused here for retaining walls around the pool. This is a house with much of its history intact. 

Listing Fast Facts:  

Address:  6651 SE Scott Dr, Portland, OR 97215 

Size:   6,253 square feet/0.46 acres, 6 bedroom/3 bath/4 fireplaces  

List Date:   3/7/2022  

List Price:  $2,750,000  

Listing Agent:  Kathleen O'Donnell, O’Donnell Group 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.