Property Watch: In Oak Grove, a Modernized Pietro Belluschi Home in a Parklike Setting
Editor’s Note: Welcome to Portland Monthly’s “Property Watch” column, where we 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 1949 Pietro Belluschi home in Oak Grove that's had just two owners, and a sensitive round of updates. Got a home you think would work for this column? Get in touch at [email protected].
It’s not often that a Pietro Belluschi–designed home pops up on the market. We profiled one of the famed architect’s designs in July of last year, and this particular house in Oak Grove (a community just south of Milwaukie) has sold only once before, in 1993. While that house we wrote about in July was the second to last of the residences designed by the architect, this one was built during the height of his career.
Built in 1949, beside a stream on almost two acres, the Ressler House is designed in the Northwest Regional style with all the hallmarks of Belluschi’s modernism, including deep eaves, large windows that frame the specifics of the site, and an abundance of natural materials.
This becomes apparent as soon as you step inside the front door: there is a feeling of being ensconced, in the best way, by all the clear vertical-grain Douglas fir lining the walls and ceilings, from the foyer to the hallway, bedrooms, and main rooms. Black accents, via the tinted concrete floors and black doors, temper the wood tones, as do the large windows capturing moss-covered tree trunks outside.
To the left, the home’s original bedroom wing, with a lightly updated bathroom and two wood-wrapped bedrooms, each with the original built-in furniture intact, almost floor-to-ceiling windows, and charming Dutch doors (a Belluschi signature) opening to a peaceful shared courtyard.
Moving back through the living and dining rooms, with their high ceilings, original cork floors, and fireplace façade made of artfully staggered Roman brick, the kitchen marks the beginning of a new wing added by the previous owners.
Working with architect Richard Brown, who won an AIA award for the project, they updated the home, modernizing the kitchen, enclosing some outdoor space into a glass-walled sitting room, and converting an independent garage into a primary en-suite, all while staying true to Belluschi’s style.
The addition even earned approval from Belluschi’s son Anthony, also an architect, who called it “design-sensitive.” So sensitive, in fact, that it’s hard to tell when some of the work is new, like where the original kitchen cabinets sit side by side with newer ones, all tucked under a stainless-steel counter.
The primary bedroom has slate floors, wood walls, a Dutch door, and built-in wood louvres for air circulation, as well as a large window overlooking a twisting mature maple tree. In the bathroom, find more custom storage, this time with antique shoji sliding doors, and more windows, looking into a private courtyard with a natural rock fountain and black bamboo. There’s even an operable window in the walk-in shower for that indoor-outdoor shower experience.
As avid gardeners and nursery owners, the previous residents have drastically improved the almost-two-acre lot, preserving an original greenhouse and adding a handsome outbuilding, also designed by Brown, low-lying in form and covered in dark-hued board-and-batten to match the main house. The nearby creek fills the property with song, the surrounding landscaping all done with a naturalistic, Japanese-inspired approach that feels like a private park.
Listing Fast Facts:
Address: 15315 SE Woodland Way, Oak Grove, OR 97267
Size: 2,171 square feet/1.87 acres, 3 bedroom/3 bath
List Date: 3/15/2022
List Price: $1,870,000
Listing Agent: Craig Weintz, Windermere Realty Trust
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.