Robert F. Lytle House*
$46,000 was a huge amount of money when wealthy lumberman and industrialist Robert F. Lytle paid that amount for the construction of this mansion for himself and his wife in 1911. The house was then, and remains today the most expensive house constructed in Irvington (adjusted for inflation, of course). The noted local architect David L. Williams created this Mediterranean styled "palazzo" a number of years before this style became common among grand houses in Portland. The Lytle family stayed here only a few years before selling the home and moving elsewhere in the city. In 1920, the house was purchased by Willard P. Hawley, Sr., who had founded the Hawley Pulp and Paper company of Oregon City (now Blue Heron Paper) and several other companies.
Willard's son was a pioneer in radio, and founded the Portland station KGY in 1921, at the time the most powerful station in the city, with an audience extending as far away as Philadelphia and Honolulu. In those early days, KGY broadcast from a studio in this house. According to Hawley family members, the very first paid commercial broadcast over a radio station in the U.S. emanated from that studio on behalf of a local ice cream store.
The Hawleys resided here until 1940, after which the building fell on hard times and was several times threatened with demolition. However, much of the sumptuous interior furnishings remained intact, enabling the much-welcomed transformation of the home into an elegant bed and breakfast about 20 years ago. Notable in the interior are the original hand-painted French wallpaper, the mahogany woodwork and the quarter-sawn oak floors.
Original light fixtures can be found throughout the house along with more recently installed French and Austrian crystal chandeliers. The fine stained glass is a product of the Povey Brothers in Portland like many other fine examples around Irvington.
The former carriage house, in which the cook, head maid and chauffeur used to reside, was converted into additional guest quarters several years ago.
In its current role as the popular Portland White House Bed and Breakfast, the home serves as our Tour-Day headquarters, thanks to the public spiritedness of its owners. The plaque above the main entrance proclaims the house to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
* This is the "Historic Name" given to this home when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.