Richardson Romanesque-Style Landmark in Portland Is on the Market

by Jamey MortonSeptember 20, 2018

A History of Opulence Comes to Life in This Ornate Portland Home

Architect buffs rejoice — there is a Richardson Romanesque-style mansion in Portland’s Northwest Hills now on the market for $3.5 million. From the outside, the home appears to be a Medieval castle, with stone arches, a cone-topped turret, and plenty of wrought-iron details.

Known as the William Temple House, the mansion was originally built for Dr. Kenneth McKenzie. McKenzie was one of the founders of the Oregon Health and Science University, and lived in the home until his death in 1920.

It was once commonly believed that the home was designed by the architectural firm Whidden & Lewis. However, the Oregon Historical Society and the Architecture & Allied Arts Library corrected this mistake in 2012. As it turns out, an architectural firm called McCaw & Martin designed the home between 1892 and 1893 in classic Richardson Romanesque and shingle style.

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A Gorgeous Oregon Mansion With a Dubious History

Featuring its own sense of mystery, the mansion has a diverse history of ownership. Once a speakeasy and then a flophouse, the ornate castle-like home was purchased and restored by the Oregon Episcopal Diocese in 1971, when it was renamed the William Temple House. More recently, the house has ranked as Portland’s fourth most iconic home in terms of architecture and history, according to Portland Monthly.

The iconic home is constructed with Tenino stone and slate shingles, and the exterior also features a stag’s head gargoyle. Much of the woodcarvings, ornate tile work, hand-tooled leather, and copper work can be attributed to Cora McKenzie, who was a student of fine art.

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Step Inside This Majestic Architectural Masterpiece

The home’s interior includes the original fireplace and woodwork, with a spiral staircase, stained glass windows, and plenty of majestic archways. Four stories span 10,000 square feet with 8 bedrooms and five full bathrooms (there is also one half bath). Oak paneling and built-in cherry bookcases give the home a majestic splendor.

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As you tour the house, you’ll also notice hand-painted tile mosaics, wooden statues carved into the fireplaces, and tin-embossed coffered ceilings. The cone-topped turret has been used as an artist space and conversation piece. A gaslight featuring a bat and a serpent gives a nod to the influential doctor for whom the house was built. According to Portland Monthly, the bat and serpent is a Scottish symbol for the triumph of western medicine over witchcraft and paganism.

The estate includes Abbot Hall, an 8,960 square-foot meeting space with 16 rooms, two conference rooms, and a reception area. A parking lot with 8 spaces surrounds the home, making this a perfect property for private buyers and organizations alike. The Good Samaritan Hospital, Jesuit groups, and the William Temple House have all used this space to host meetings and events.

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An Iconic Home in a Historical Neighborhood

The mansion is located across from Couch Park in Portland’s famous Alphabet District. NW 20th Ave is loaded with recognizable architecture that brings character to the neighborhood and to the entire city of Portland. The neighborhood is known for its great restaurants, quirky shopping, and amazing people-watching opportunities. In 1996, the home was listed on the National Register for historic places, which means this gem of a property will be an important part of the neighborhood and city, for years to come.

The McKenzie house has served as an administrative hub for businesses, a meeting place for churches and spiritual groups, as a speakeasy, and as a boarding house. With a rich history of goodwill, the home’s positive energy can be felt throughout the grounds. And for $3.5 million, you’ll be the one to continue writing the story of one of Portland’s greatest architectural treasures.

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About The Author
Jamey Morton
Jamey has been a writer since he discovered science fiction and fantasy in the fourth grade. His early love for all things strange and mysterious has translated into a passion for writing about haunted mansions and other intriguing topics related to real estate and homeownership. Jamey loves nothing more than finding a medieval castle in the middle of New Jersey or a chalet on the coast of Florida. When not researching otherworldly real estate, Jamey can be found writing his series of outer space horror novels in his home in Seattle.