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: a stained glass filled stunner in Southeast Portland. Got a home you think would work for this column? Get in touch at [email protected].
Some homes seem to have multiple lives, and this storied craftsman on Southeast Salmon is definitely one of them. It was completed in 1910 (or 1913; records diverge about this) for a wealthy lumber entrepreneur named Harry McCormick, who unfortunately died only a year after it was finished. In the years since, it’s been put to institutional use, by both the Western Union Baptist Theological Seminary and the Roscrucian Society—is this the history of Portland in a nutshell?—before becoming a single-family home once again in the ’80s. Then, sometime in the last fifteen years, the story goes that it was bought by an interior designer and a lottery winner, who decided to invest their jackpot in restoring the house to its original glory before the home passed to the current sellers.
Designed by architect Christopher Robbins, and called the Harry McCormick House, the home has always been grand. In an Oregonian report on building permits issued in January 1909, the paper noted that one for this house cost $30,000, a substantial uptick from the average $2000 permit for other dwellings at the time. We’re not surprised, seeing as how the home boasts 9,340 square feet, with eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, three floors plus basement, an elevator, and a .34-acre lot that occupies one-quarter of a city block.
Tucked on a knoll behind trees and an iron fence along the sidewalk, at the front there’s a wraparound tiled veranda and the most gorgeous front door set-up we’ve ever seen. Architecture nerd aside: At the turn of the century, Portland was home to the Povey Brothers Studio, a well-known decorative glass window producer dubbed the Tiffany’s of the Northwest, and having their windows in a home or building was quite the status symbol. If we’re counting correctly, this house has about twelve Povey windows, two in the foyer, two in the study, two in the upstairs foyer, and six in the dining room.
But back to the entry: its Povey glass had been removed from the door and sidelights, so the previous owner commissioned a local glass studio, David Schlicker Stained Glass, to recreate the original design. Apparently, the only difference between the new and old is that the latter would have used actual diamonds in some spots.
Inside, find a really nice blend of preserved historical detail with comfortable modern updates, like a recent seismic retrofit. The entry foyer has rich dark Honduras Mahogany paneling and box beams, cheery blue wallpaper, and decoratively inlaid oak floors, and connects fluidly to a large living room. There’s a smaller study behind pocket doors off to the side. Both have their original tiled fireplace surrounds, and in the latter, vintage embossed leather-style wallpaper comingles with quarter-sawn white oak paneling, more box beams, built-in bookcases, and those stunning Povey windows.
If all this historical detail sounds stuffy, that’s not at all how the home feels. It’s rather cozy and welcoming wandering the rooms, with the porch door open to let the breeze flow through, like the backdrop to a classic kid’s storybook. In the updated kitchen, the drywall was removed to expose a brick wall with two arched openings. The prep and cook space has high-end appliances, a live-edge walnut counter, and abundant custom storage, some with leaded glass fronts and accessed by a library ladder. Through the brick doorways, there’s an additional clean-up space-slash-butler’s pantry, and a window-lined eating nook with a generous walnut booth and herringbone brick floor.
Go upstairs via the stately, balconied staircase, or another staircase that was probably for servants. At the second level, the main stairs meet an expansive landing, practically a room in itself, with inlaid floors in a Greek key motif and wood columns demarking the hall to the bedrooms. The upper levels are a mix of well-appointed bedrooms and baths, alongside communal spaces, including a billiards room and a media room.
Highlights include a serene screened sleeping porch off the East bedroom; the primary suite with its newly remodeled bathroom, fireplace, and dressing room; and the media room’s acoustical ceiling tile and built-in bar with marble counters. Downstairs, there’s plenty of workout space between two gyms, a dedicated dog room that accesses the fenced yard, and storage for the kegerator, which has three taps in the kitchen.
Listing Fast Facts
Address: 2712 SE Salmon Street, Portland, OR 97214
Size: 9,340 square feet/8 bedroom/5 bath
List Date: 5/23/2022
List Price: $2,495,000
Listing Agent: Judith Rolfe, RE/MAX Equity Group
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.