Fall is a beautiful time of year to travel. And there is no better place to visit than somewhere you can see the fall foliage. While many will go to popular fall travel spots like New England for the fall foliage, there are many other less busy locations you can visit to enjoy the fall foliage. Oregon is definitely a beautiful spot to see fall foliage.
Last fall I visited Portland, Oregon and visiting the Pittock Mansion was a great spot to see the fall foliage.
One of the things I love about traveling, is visiting historic homes. As someone who loves history, seeing the inside of a historic home, helps bring alive how people lived in the past which helps to appreciate the history of a city. The Pittock Mansion tells the story of how Portland Oregon went from a small pioneer town to a modern city through one of the most influential families from the city.
Pittock Mansion History
Pittock Mansion was home to Henry and Georgiana Pittock. Born in London, Henry Pittock spent his childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he was 19 years old, Henry headed west along the Oregon Trail. He eventually ended up in Portland Oregon where he met his wife and got a job as a typesetter for the newspaper, The Oregonian. Henry was eventually given ownership of The Oregonian. It was thru owning the paper that allowed him to invest such industries as real estate, railroads, silver mining and the paper industry.
In the early 1900s, Henry began to plan his “mansion on the hill” (more on why it’s called that later). In 1912, construction began and then in 1914, the Pittock family moved into the mansion. Sadly, they were only able to enjoy this beautiful home for about four years before they passed away. Family members did continue to reside in the mansion until 1958 when Henry’s grandson put the mansion on the market for sale.
After sitting empty for four years, the mansion was finally purchased by the city of Portland. The city restored the building and in 1965 opened it to the public. In 2007, a non-profit, The Pittock Mansion Society, took over the daily operations from the city.
Touring the Mansion
The Mansion is open daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and select days in January when it’s closed for maintenance. Tours of the mansion are self-guided.
The 16,000 square foot mansion consists of 23 rooms. The large number of rooms was necessary as many members of the extended family lived in the home including, their children, spouses, grandchildren and their two orphaned nieces.
The middle of the mansion was oval shaped and there were wings going off from this at 45-degree angles. The oval shape creates a beautiful entryway. As I entered, I was stunned by the oval ceiling above me. It was almost impossible to capture exactly how beautiful it was in a photo.
The other stunning thing that caught my eye was the view from the window across from the entrance. The fact that it was fall made the view that much more beautiful. The Pittock’s certainly picked a gorgeous spot in Portland to build their home. More on these gorgeous view later.
My self-guided tour of the mansion started on the first floor where I saw the many rooms. There were the standard rooms that you see in most homes like the dining room. But there was also a music room which I found interesting. I’m always so impressed with different and very specific purpose rooms that you will find when visiting historic homes. I guess when you have the room, why not have a room specifically to enjoy music in, right?
Next it was off to the second floor by walking up the grand staircase. I love a good grand staircase, it always reminds me of the last scene in Titanic, where Jack walked up the staircase to meet Rose in her dream. This staircase had a window on the first landing that looked on the fall foliage outside, it was quite the view and worth a stop to take a look outside.
Once upstairs, the self-guided tour took you thru the various bedrooms and it was here that you learned more about the family members who lived here. I always find it interesting how in the past, it was common for multiple generations to live in one house while now most kids count the days to leave their parents’ house only moving back in as a last resort due to financial reasons.
I always love seeing the bedrooms in the older homes, I’m always so amazed at how small the beds are, people certainly were shorter back in the day. I might have been closer to a normal height back then instead of my current short height. It’s also so nice to see that the parents of the house always have their own space, some homes they have separate bedrooms, others they have the master bedroom with separate rooms for each spouse like the sitting rooms for the women.
I really enjoyed viewing the Pittock Mansion, but like all historic homes, it’s not just the home itself that is worth a visit. One must also take a look around the grounds….
Pittock Mansion Grounds
I’m sure the grounds of the Pittock Mansion are beautiful to visit all year round, but I was lucky enough to visit during the fall, at what ended up being peak foliage in Portland, Oregon. As someone coming from New England, I was very impressed with the fall colors in Portland. The grounds were absolutely stunning in all it’s fall colors.
Remember I mentioned earlier that the Pittock Mansion was considered the “mansion on a hill”? Well, that is because it’s located up in the hills west of downtown Portland at 1,000 feet above sea level. Being set that high above the city, the views are absolutely stunning, especially in the fall.
Behind the mansion there is viewing area, where you can see all of Portland, with Mt Hood in the background. It’s the most perfect view and a photographer’s paradise! The views of a snow-capped Mt Hood were so unbelievable, it almost didn’t look real.
But the views aren’t the only advantage to the mansion being located on a hill, there are also multiple hiking trails on the grounds. This makes for a great way to enjoy the outdoors after touring the mansion. And fall is the perfect time for a hike. As with most of the Pacific Northwest, the weather can often be rainy, so be prepared. I was lucky enough to visit the mansion on a cloudy but dry day.
The Pittock Mansion is located along the 30-mile-long Wildwood Trail, which just so happens to be America’s longest forested urban trail. There are many trails to choose from ranging from 3-6 miles roundtrip or if you are short on time, you can just walk part of a trail and turn around. This is what I did, I walked just under a mile and then turned around. Being there on a weekday in October, the trails were very quiet, I only saw a couple of other groups of people hiking. It was definitely a very peaceful fall hike. I’m sure on the weekends, the trails can get more crowded though.
While a visit to the mansion is great any time of the year, I definitely recommend visiting in the fall if you can. The mansion, the history, the views, the foliage and hiking, what more can you ask for?!
If you are looking for other things to do in Oregon, make sure to check out my other posts: Donut Tour of Portland and Chasing Waterfalls and Fall Foliage Along the Historic Columbia River Highway.
And as always, if you need help planning your trip to Oregon, Beyond The Miles Travel is here to help you.
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