Featured Stories

Home awaits new lease on life

Piece by piece,the Belluschi home is being taken down to move it to a new location
by: San Bennett, 
Ted Snider of the Rebuilding Center carefully took apart the Belluschi home in Lake Oswego, in preparation for moving the home.

When Pietro Belluschi came to the United States in 1925, he discovered a whole new design vocabulary.

On trips to the Oregon Coast in a Model T, Belluschi found inspiration in the most utilitarian of structures, such as barns.

It was a different world from the classical building designs of his native Italy, where grand architectural gestures were made with marble.

Here, Belluschi replaced marble with wood and invented a style all his own.

On a recent rainy afternoon in Lake Oswego, Ted Snider meticulously deconstructed a fine example of Belluschi's revolutionary design.

The Belluschi home at 260 Pine Valley Road has been taken down and awaits a new lease on life. The home was hauled off in four truckloads and stored in containers.

Snider, a site manager with Portland's Rebuilding Center, was hired by Tim Mather, owner of Lake Oswego's MCM Construction. Mather and fellow architectural buff Tia Ross of Lake Oswego are lining up a new site for the Belluschi home.

Since announcing his desire to save the home last month, Mather has received 10 offers and has reduced the list to about four solid offers.

The home and property are owned by George Hale, who owns the adjacent house. Hale offered the home for free if Mather would haul it away.

Mather declined to say who will get the home and where it will be, because negotiations are ongoing. His hope is to keep it in Lake Oswego.

'I feel like it's part of Lake Oswego,' said Mather.

Mather said he will serve as the contractor for its rebuild.

'I think it's a piece of art,' said Ross. 'In this community, we need a historical footprint and architecture is the best kind.'

Libby Dawson Farr, an architectural historian who wrote her master's thesis on Belluschi, said Belluschi designed the Lake Oswego home in the International Style. He broke from the prevailing Northwest style of the time, which called for the use of pitched gable roofs. Instead, he used a flat roof and large windows.

'He lets the outside in, in the way he sited the house and made sure the house reached out to the landscape,' said Farr.

Belluschi designed the Lake Oswego home in 1950, not long after he finished the landmark Equitable Building in downtown Portland. The Equitable is renowned as one of the first glass curtain-wall skyscrapers.

His other passion was churches, including Portland's Zion Lutheran Church, the Central Lutheran Church and the St. Thomas Moore Church.

In contrast, the Lake Oswego home was built economically, Farr said. It was designed as a one-bedroom home, and features cork floors, radiant floor heating and a brick fireplace.

In recent years, the house suffered from dry rot in the ceiling, a heating system that no longer worked and an electrical system that was not up to code.

Mather said he has the original plans for the home, which will help in its reconstruction.

'This was a house designed by a carpenter,' Farr said. 'It's a quiet little gem. I'm glad he's saving this house.'

Mather expects to wrap up negotiations with the homeowner within a month.