Portland is beautiful and we must preserve the old architectural styling that makes it desirably unique. The Markham House, built in 1911, was one of the first in Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood. When the Markham House was on the brink of demolition, we knew we had to rescue and remodel it for the good of the community.
The house stands prominently on an elevated double lot at one of the stately gates of Laurelhurst. Had we not saved it, the entrance to Laurelhurst would greet all comers with three units of production infill– an irrevocable loss to Portland’s distinctive sense of place.
John was asked to intervene by former clients and preservation organizations. The developer was not willing to sell until he toured one of McCulloch Design-Build’s projects. When he did and understood that we would do superlative work pro bono, for the betterment of Portland, he agreed to sell to us.
The Markham had originally less than 1,400 sf of living space, built as a sales gimmick to pre-sell future large homes, giving the false impression of being a big house by means of a sham second floor. The little space there was, was largely consumed in impressive circulation areas.
Though Markham succeeded admirably for sales, being the sole office from which most of Laurelhurst was developed, it was for show. Worsening over a century as architects and rehabbers tried to superficially correct symptoms of a bone-deep unlivable design, it suffered from neglect.
From dangerous irregular stairs that cause falls, floors destroyed by water, a smashed Povey stain glass window, all fixtures to even the furnace registers stripped, to broken windows, horrible remodels, rot and neglect, there was little to preserve.
The solution is building on what the house did right: it anchored a whole section of town through its once impressive street presence. The house will set the tone as a grand signature home establishing the quality, era and value of the neighborhood as it did in its bygone days of glory. While the exterior should be imposing and true to 1911, the interior must marry timeless romance to modern functionality.
McCulloch got involved because we have the precise combination of period knowledge, building skill, resources and commitment to undertake the epic project. We are molding the house into what it should have been.
We worked with the community to raise three percent of the cost of the project. While this is a tiny part of the funding, it is the most important part because it served to raise awareness and galvanize Portlanders in favor of keeping true to their roots.
Markham house awareness, thanks to the victory, is city-wide. From Mayor Hales, who thanked us for our efforts, to thousands of citizens who believe in keeping our old neighborhoods looking old, to the press who supported our efforts – this project has done much to raise respect for the importance of period design in Portland.
Since before our 1905 World’s Fair, Portland hoped to beat Seattle as the great city in the NW. Today, because we grew more slowly and thoughtfully, we are. We are famous for food, walkability, wine and beer, activities, and bike paths, but our distinctive old buildings are the foundation of that success. However, with Portland’s influx of population and accumulation of wealth we are increasingly facing the forces that make big cities less desirable.
Our redesign is radical, but right! Countless hours of study of the best work in the genre ensure the new design is true to the 1911 era and Spanish Mission Style. Where it differs from the original, it is better. We are converting the disaster into a great landmark as a permanent legacy project for Portland, and for the happy families that will live there for generations to come.
Please help sustain the cause of valuing period design in Portland! Email us your thoughts and spread our posts, as we save and transform this old house!