Sunday, May 15, 2011

Irvington Home Tour

Portland's touring season continues today with the Irvington Home Tour. As we hem and haw over the Mt. Tabor house I decided that I ought to go on the IHT this weekend and the Chapman Home Tour which happens next weekend. Is this Queen Anne really the house for us, or could I be content with a Foursquare that was mostly intact and original woodwork? The best way for me to decide is to see more houses to allow me to imagine myself in something 'newer' from the 'Teens or Twenties. I wasn't able to find a touring companion, my mom had other things going on and children weren't allowed, so I had considered calling my old boss Mr. W F to see if he had a date. Just as I was parking my car by my first house I saw Mr. W F and Ms. W, a new designer hired after I retired, walking by so I was able to join them for several houses.
The three of us find ourselves a little bit jaded. We see so many wonderful old houses in our line of work that we really expect the tour houses to be special. And often times we are disappointed in their plainness or lack of character, and often are hyper critical of modern renovations which we deem to be inappropriate. Perhaps because we think we could do it better.
But there was one real treasure on the tour this year. The 1909 Prairie style Hoover house on 17th and Thompson was one I passed everyday on my way to parochial school. I have always admired it and its corner lot location. Unfortunately the IHT doesn't allow photography so I don't have any interiors to show. By the woodwork is all in its original condition, and there is so much of it! Some of the lighting fixtures are original although they are a little mismatched with the house. This was a source of much distress to Mr. W F. There is a little study off the dining room, probably intended for cigars and brandy, that continues the stained woodwork paneling and includes coved ceilings. The coved ceilings continue upstairs in all of the bedrooms. One curious feature of this house is the wall treatments in the living room and the hallways; they aren't covered in anaglyptal which was my first guess. When I felt them the texture of the pattern was rough, while the field was completely smooth. Mr. W F surmised that it was flocked wallpaper which had been painted over and sure enough the guide book confirmed that.
Another house that I really liked, although sadly all but the dining room's box beam ceiling had been painted over, was the 1910 Coan bungalow. It boasts an attached covered carport which has an enclosed sitting room above it. It was in this room however that I heard Mr. W F mutter, "I wish we had gotten here first." Yes, we are jaded. I did not care for the kitchen remodel at all, but was impressed with a few clever storage solutions.
One of the houses was recently filmed in the movie Untraceable. I've not seen that movie, nor was I aware it was filmed here, but Irvington seems to be a very popular location for movie houses. I remember riding my bike by a house on 17th that was being filmed on my way to school. Only the dining room has unpainted woodwork, but apparently the director felt the room was too dark for shooting the movie so the crew used a peel-able paint on the wood work for the movie. Craziness! Even more crazy? The cost of that trick alone was $25,000! Crazy! The family used the funds from the movie to build an outbuilding which they use as a potting shed and fort for their children. Again I am motivated to get to work on the backyard.
I ran into our former clients again, the ones I saw at the Kitchen Tour. We all seem to move in the same circles and we all are planning on attending the tour next weekend as well. The last house I visited is currently owned by a gardener who has really transformed her modest bungalow lot. I did take a few out of doors pictures to help motivate me to work on our back garden. If the weather holds this week I am determined to get outside and remove the sand and garden paper from the rhododendron bed. It's a start.

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