Archives For oregon

exuberantly round

September 29, 2013 — 5 Comments

A novelty style round house in Eads, Colorado, was recently entered on the National Register of Historic Places. Named the Crow-Hightower House after two of its early owners, the house has a conical entrance, a crenellated cornice, walls of contrasting brick, and an “exuberant” circular form. Here is the house in 1955, a few years after it was built –

eads round house

The NRHP registration form includes historical information about round houses in the US, noting that they are relatively rare both in Colorado and nationally. Apparently the builder of the Crow-Hightower House, Warren A. Portrey, had previously built another round house just outside of Eads, and went on to build two more circular structures in Oregon.

Portrey’s son Ron recalled that Portrey, who was always interested in new things, was eager to build more round houses. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get people interested in them because they were “not conventional” and “not the same style everybody else was building.” Portrey built the two Oregon structures — a house and a workshop — for himself.


r and r in the round

August 1, 2013 — 1 Comment

Still looking for a summer holiday escape? There are round houses for rent in vacation spots around the world. Were it not for pressing work deadlines and a depleted bank account, I might run away to this vintage gem in Desert Hot Springs, California.

I could also be tempted to spend time at this northern Scotland stone cottage, this solar-powered Hawaiian home, this mid-century jewel overlooking a river in Oregon, this Balinesian villa, this wine-drenched Sonoma County retreat, and this super-cool futuro spaceship in Wisconsin.

And at $75 a night — or better yet, $500 a month — I might just visit this cheerful and eccentric New Mexico house and not leave.

new mexico round house

An article published in the Portland Journal, on March 23, 1930, describes the history of a round house in Cottage Grove, Oregon:

More than one architect has set forth the advantages of a house so built that the structure has no dark corners to catch dust, but until Joseph Landress of Cottage Grove, Oregon, built such a dwelling no one seemed to have sufficient courage to make such a radical departure from the accepted architectural forms for private homes.

When carpenters began the work of building the round dwelling, some of Mr. Landress’ neighbors smiled a trifle patronizingly and predicted that the owner had no idea how such a house would look among homes of the usual types and that he would soon tire of the place. Some of them inquired jokingly if Landress got the inspiration for his freak residence from a nearby railroad round-house or from the silos of adjacent farms.

Landress took these remarks good-naturedly and assured his friends that he was neither a modernist nor a dreamer, but that his curious house would have many sensible features which cannot be found in any of the traditional types of dwellings with square corners.

And now, with the house completed, the doubting citizens of Cottage Grove admit that a house built on the lines of a silo is not so crazy as it seems and that, even in outward appearance, the unique home is rather attractive. The windows are so placed that light is admitted evenly from all directions and in the daytime every part of the ground floor of the house is adequately lighted. There are no nooks and corners to cast shadows.

. . . The upper floor of the circular house contains three sleeping rooms and a bath, and has fewer windows than the downstairs part because there is no object in flooding the second floor with daylight.

. . . The lower floor of the Landress home is one big living room. A small “ell” attached to the rear of the building contains the kitchen and pantry, so that the beauty of the circular room is not marred by a partition cutting off a portion of the room.

. . . The smooth, continuous wall of the room, broken only by the windows, gives a pleasingly clean-cut appearance. And the circular floor, covered with a large round rug, makes possible an interesting arrangement of furniture that could not be managed in a room square or oblong in shape.

Once asked by an interviewer why he built the house round, Landess quipped, “I figured I’d have a house no woman could corner me in.” He lived in the house until his death in 1961.

Sadly, the house was altered greatly over the years, moved to another location in 1986, and by 2012 it was part of a Comfort Inn complex.