Five Landmark Portland Homes You Must See – Before you Buy

portland passive house

Buying a home in Portland? Check out these five incredible homes that set the benchmark for architecture, engineering and style in the Portland metro area. They aren’t on the market, but our Portland buyers team may be able to help you find a similar home that captures the essence of what makes these landmark Portland homes so special. Use them as a guide to find the Portland home of your dreams.

O2Haus, Northeast Portland

The Passive House
This modern marvel, constructed in 2014, earned the distinction of being Portland’s first net-zero energy home built on spec — that is, without a buyer lined up. 02Haus, built by Portland Living, LLC, sends equal amounts of power back to the grid as it is consumed. The fact that the home was snapped up before construction was completed speaks to how popular energy efficiency has become in the Portland real estate market. It’s also a duplex, which means the home could potentially be earning money as it generates power.

How to Get Something Like It
Green building has taken off in Portland, and it’s hard to find a newer home that doesn’t have some kind of energy- or water-efficient features. What’s truly green, and what’s just greenwashed? That is a tricky question. Luckily, our Portland buyers’ team is here to help. With Earth Advantage, Green Resource Council, and Energy Trust Trade Ally designations, we can put our expertise to work to help you find a home with the green features you want.

Want a home that’s a two-for-one, with an additional unit to rent out to help you pay your mortgage? While some Portland duplexes or homes with ADUs can be great investments, others are bound to be a headache — your Portland real estate agent can and should help you navigate the options.

Knapp House, Northwest Portland
portland Victorian home
The Victorian House
Okay, technically you can’t see this one — it was tragically demolished in the 1950s — but there’s no better example of a lavish and whimsical Portland home. The Knapp House was just one of many Victorian houses constructed in the late 19th century as Portland experienced a wave of growth, much as it is experiencing today. The modern construction style, however has nothing on the Victorians. As architect and preservationist John Yeon wrote about Knapp House, “How a building of such high style was conjured up in a land so recently a wilderness will mystify every visitor … It is full of surprises, wit, and folly within a framework of serious grandeur.”

How to Get Something Like It
There are many Victorians still in existence in Portland, built between the late 1830’s and the early 1900’s. As you can imagine, many of these homes might be fixer-uppers, but a good many have already been remodeled to be modern and comfortable inside. If you’ve always dreamed of living in a Candyland house with turrets and fancy trim, look no further than Portland, Oregon.

Omey House, North Portland
portland artsy custom home
The Custom Artistic House
When architect Corey Omey and his wife purchased a 1925 Portland home, they knew they had a lot of work to do. However, most homeowners don’t go through the lengths that they did: rebuilding the house from the inside out and using 80-90% recycled material in the process. The result is a beautiful Portland home that fits nicely into the neighborhood while remaining distinctive. That’s probably because of the green roof over the porch, solar panels on the main roof and beautiful reclaimed cedar siding. Inside, the home contains even more unique touches, like custom mosaic tile floors and some you won’t see — like the old real estate signs used to sheath the walls!

How to Get Something Like It
Clearly, Omey House is one-of-a-kind, but DIY Portland home buyers have plenty of options if they’re willing and able to put in the work. The Omey House took several years to complete and thousands of hours of “sweat equity” by its owners and teams of helpers. Still, it turned what may have been another Portland tear-down into an enduring and well crafted home. There are many such examples of custom artistic homes in Portland, but probably more in the Alberta Arts district than anywhere else!

If you want to DIY, ask your Portland real estate agent about foreclosures or homes that have been languishing on the market because they’re in need of repair. Those who love to remodel have plenty to choose from — and your neighbors will thank you when the work’s done! (Definitely check out the Portland Metro Association of Realtors’ list of incentives for green home improvements, too.

Pittock Mansion, Northwest Portland
portland historic mansion
The Historic Luxury Home
Now a National Historic Site and one of Portland’s most beloved landmarks, the Pittock Mansion was built to offer comfort and prestige to one of the city’s founding families. Henry Pittock had a vision for the kind of home he wanted to live in after a lifetime of hard work building the Oregonian and establishing paper mills across the state, and he brought his vision to life. At its peak, the house was home of eight Pittocks, who entertained in their mansion as well as throughout the grounds, encompassing 46 acres. Today, the home is open to the public and tours are offered regularly, so be sure to check it out when you need a break from Portland home shopping!

How to Get Something Like It
If you’re looking for a historic luxury home in Portland, it may be hard to find one with a 46-acre lot, but there are still a great many wonderful, unique homes that will bring you to the apex of the Portland social scene much like the Pittocks were. If you want a home “with significance,” a home with its own story to tell, thankfully, it is possible for buyers agents using RMLS (our local listing service) to search specifically for luxury homes listed for sale that are also on the National Historic Register. We can bring that history to you.

Saul Zaik House, West Portland
mid century modern portland
The Mid-Century Modern Home
The subtle elegance and open plans of Midcentury Modern homes are timeless for Portland home buyers, and the Saul Zaik House is a prime example. The selectively placed interior features allow conversations and people to flow easily from one end of the house to the other, and large windows and sliding doors allow indoor-outdoor living and entertaining. Portland Monthly describes the house this way: “As simple as a Native American longhouse, but as delicate as leaf, Zaik’s home seems to almost hover above its wooded, hillside site.”

How to Get Something Like It
Midcentury modern homes exist all across Portland, but especially in the woody, hilly areas of West Portland and Beaverton. (The non-profit organization Restore Oregon will offer its annual tour of several of these homes in September — definitely worth a ticket if you’re into unique Portland homes and architecture.) Many subsequent designers of modern Portland homes took cues from this architectural styles to create open, airy homes that accommodate families of all sizes.

Regardless of which type of home interests you most, ask your Portland real estate to help you find a home that’s right for you!

August 11, 2017

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

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