Posted by: bkivey | 3 June 2016

Pittock Mansion Revisited

Given that Progressivism long ago devolved into a self-parody, I thought it would be entertaining to revisit my recent tour of Portland’s Pittock Mansion through the eyes of a Progressive. My grammar, form, and vocabulary are admittedly superior to most Progressive screeds, but you can’t have everything.

High up in the West Hills of Portland amongst the homes of the 1%, stands an unseemly monument to excess in the form of Pittock Mansion. George Pittock and his wife were born during the Slavery Years of Amerika, and George Pittock bought The Oregonian, thus depriving the masses of the means of production regarding the printed word. Built on the underpaid labor of the working class for the enjoyment of the undeserving wealthy minority, the house is open to the public. But only the public that can afford the $10 admission. That price is more than the minimum hourly wage, making it difficult if not impossible for those supporting a family on that wage to visit and see why the struggle must continue.

While the property is accessible from several hiking trails, there is a parking lot for the use of fossil-fuel burning vehicles. No EV charging stations are available. I nearly wept for Gaia when I saw this indifference to combating climate change.

The ticket office is located in the former garage:

Pittock mansion garage

At a time when cars were not commonly available, the gentry were cavalierly spewing greenhouse gases into the air. The garage contains a gift shop, where unenlightened people may enrich their corporate overlords. The public entry is at the rear of the house: a not-so-subtle reminder to the proletariat that they are in the presence of their betters:

Pittock mansion rear

Not far away is the stewards house:

Pittock mansion stewards house

The stewards residence is down the hill from the mansion, so that the hired help would know their place. Not content to pay the steward a living wage, the owners required them to live on the property. This kept them under their master’s watchful eye, lest they live in town and be exposed to the ideas of social justice and the workers struggle.

Further up the drive is a view of Portland:

Pittock mansion view from yard

Here the owners could literally look down on the masses as they toiled under the view of their oppressors. Women and minorities were hardest hit by the mean living conditions and dirty air they were forced to endure.

The front of the house:

Pittock mansion view from drive

Notice how the building culturally appropriates design elements from several peoples. The conical roofs were obviously lifted from the shelter designs of the Native peoples of the Great Plains, while the stone construction imitates the great Pre-Columbian works of the Mesoamericans.

The interior of the house is a study in White privilege:

Pittock mansion main entry hall

Pittock mansion main staircase

Even rooms rarely used required workers to send hours on details for the pleasure of their masters:

Pittock mansion smoking room ceiling

Compare the opulence of these rooms to the spaces occupied by the servants:

Pittock mansion servant stairs

Pittock mansion laundry room

The servants quarters on the third floor aren’t open to the public, so the masses won’t be infuriated by the poor living conditions of the time. Not ones to let the people rest, the owners had systems installed to let the commoners know when they were required to attend to the whims of the privileged:

Pittock mansion servant comm

And at a time when few people had even rudimentary indoor plumbing, this house was built with showers costing more than a worker’s annual wage:

Pittock mansion shower 1

Pittock mansion shower 2

Further evidence of the indifference to the worker’s plight is the fact that this house had two telephones. Not content to make do with what at the time was still something of a luxury, the Pittocks apparently felt that it was necessary to exercise power by being able to put someone on ‘hold’.

Pittock mansion secretary desk

It is offensive to those struggling for social justice that this property exists. Surely in a city as progressive as Portland, we could tear down this edifice to excess and turn the property into affordable housing, or even better, set up homeless camps. Then the least among us could enjoy the fresh air and panoramas once reserved for the rich.






  1. This reads more like the people’s cube than the Onion! Now off to the search engine to see what the Pittcocks did for a living.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: