Monday, July 9, 2018

Mystery Monday: What Happened to One of Ewald's Houses?

I recently returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon, where I spent some time driving around and taking photographs of houses, apartment buildings, and other structures designed by my architect first-cousin-twice removed Ewald Theodore Pape (1894-1976).

So what did I photograph?  In some cases, I started with an article in the Portland Oregonian, found a few years back when I won a one-year subscription to GenealogyBank.

An article in the October 20, 1929 issue entitled "Turner Will Build Home" states "E. T. Pape, designer, has completed plans for a new house for F. B. Turner on Varnell drive in Burlingame.  It will cost approximately $15,000.

The building will be 30x56 in dimensions, and because of the sloping terrain it will be two stories in front and three stories high in the rear.  Stucco, brick, and shingles will be used for exterior finish.  It will contain ten rooms."

I searched for a Varnell Drive in Burlingame, but couldn't find it.  This told me the street name had changed.  I consulted a spreadsheet produced by the Portland Department of Transportation that told me Varnell had been changed to SW Burlingame Place in May 1933, after the construction of this house.

Burlingame Place is a pretty small street, so I started looking at historical records for houses on this street at, also a City product.  I was looking for houses with a 1929 or 1930 Year Built with a plumbing permit from 1929 listing F. B. Turner as the owner.  I used Google Maps Street View to help me narrow down the search to houses that seemed to fit the description in the news article, as well as Ewald's style.

Six houses on the street were built in 1929 or 1930, but only two of those were originally owned by builder F. B. Turner.  One house (at 6476) had a plumbing permit dated in May 1928, too early to be the house referenced in this article, I felt.  The house is listed in the Oregon Historic Sites Database, and may very well have been designed by Ewald (it looks like his style), it's just not the one in the article.

So I looked at the other house, at 6438 SW Burlingame Place.  Its plumbing permit is dated November 18, 1929, so the timing is right for the newspaper article:

But I was disappointed to see, both on and on Google Map Street View, that the property was now vacant land (click on the map below to make it larger - the property is outlined in blue):

So I started doing a little more research, and discovered that the house slid down the hill in October 2008!  It took out the house just below it, that used to be on the now-vacant 6305 SW Terwilliger Boulevard, and heavily damaged a house next to that one.  Here's an article about and photos of the landslide, as well as the aftermath.  The theory in the latter is "that broken sprinkler pipes saturated the earth trapped behind concrete retaining walls," evidenced by "huge spikes in water use," that "pulled the home down."

Google Map Street View now has a historical view feature, and I was able to find the views below of the house at 6438 SW Burlingame Place in August 2007, about 14 months before it slid away.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any other photographs of the inside or the outside of the house.

Views above and below from Google Maps Street View as of August 2007.

The PortlandMaps website recorded 13 permits for various types of work on the home (alterations, additions, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing) from 2004 through 2007.  The drawing below, from a project in October 2004, shows most of the footprint of the home.

I also found a reference to the house on the Vintage Portland website.  Below is an enlargement of the upper left corner of the photo at the beginning of that post, which dates from 1932 or 1933.  In the image below (click on it to make it larger), there is a group of three houses on the right side, in the center of that edge.  The middle house of that three is the one Ewald designed.  That's SW Burlingame Place just above the three, looping around to SW Burlingame Avenue behind it, running along the top of the photo, and SW Terwilliger Boulevard below it, running along the bottom edge of this photo.

City of Portland (OR) Archives, A1999-004.535

© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. I very much enjoy finding land and house information from my ancestor's lives. It’s just so darn interesting. I have to say, I’ve never found one that slide down a hill though.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Diane! I'm working on mapping as many of Ewald's works as I can. Given that the bulk of his work was in the late 1920s and 1930s, I have been pleasantly surprised that so many are still standing. This is the first one that hasn't been, and I'm glad that it wasn't a deliberate demolition.