In the treetops above the Willamette River, with open views of Mount Saint Helens and the downtown Portland skyline, one of only two private residences in Oregon that were designed by eminent modernist architect Richard Neutra is now available for $3.55 million.
New York City-born and bred department store heiress Peggy Hess—her grandfather, Isidor Straus, was a co-owner of Macy’s and, along with his wife, Ida, died in 1912 on the Titanic—married horticulturist Jan de Graaff in 1931 and moved to Oregon. They established a successful bulb farm and de Graaff created more lily hybrids, including the popular Stargazer and Enchantment varieties, than anyone else ever had.
Not quite a decade later, the sophisticated couple commissioned L.A.-based Richard Neutra to design them a spacious home for their family in a wooded neighborhood about six miles south of downtown Portland. The result, situated at the end of a long private driveway on two elevated parcels that total nearly an acre, brought the International style of architecture to The City of Roses. Completed in 1941, the home was featured in House & Garden magazine the following year.
The de Graaffs moved to New York City in 1970, and by the 1980s, their former home had been renovated beyond recognition. The current owners purchased the property in 2003 for about $1.3 million and, working with Ryan Walsh from Green Gables (now Light House), have since restored many of the home’s original design elements while at the same time updating it for a comfortable modern lifestyle.
The home does not appear today exactly as Neutra designed it almost 85 years ago, but it does stay true to the architect’s original vision. The long, horizontal lines of the exterior are balanced with vertical tongue-and-groove cedar cladding; the minimally trimmed interiors feature bands of picture windows that frame leafy views of the surrounding foliage; and sliding glass doors allow the home to seamlessly transition to a bi-level terrace set in the treetops with a built-in grill and an outdoor fireplace.
Inside, a double-sided fireplace separates the living room from a cozy den that features built-in banquette sofas and floating shelves, while a dining room lies between the living room and an open-plan kitchen with an informal dining area and a sitting area with another built-in banquette set below the windows.
Altogether, there are five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms in 6,887 square feet over three floors. Two of the bedrooms and a shared bath are tucked down on the lowest level, along with several large storage rooms and a covered patio, while the other three are located on the top floor. Each of the two top-floor guest bedrooms has a private bath, while the primary bedroom has a fireplace, walk-in closet, and dual compartmentalized bathrooms that share a large shower. The primary suite also shares a large terrace with an oversized laundry room that doubles as a home office.
Other highlights of the private property include four fireplaces, a three-car attached garage topped by a 600-square-foot rec room (it originally served as a kindergarten for the Graaff children), and a large, oval-shaped field of lawn encircled by mature trees.
Tracy Hasson of Sotheby’s International Realty holds the listing.
Click here for more photos of 1901 South Comus Street.