People drank during Prohibition. Speakeasy bars and other establishments that sold alcohol when it was illegal in the United States, from January 1920 to December 1933, have been romanticized as landmarks of liberated behavior in the Roaring Twenties.
The whispered suggestion to talk “easy” (quietly) in public about buying alcohol was also a way to avoid trouble at home.
An English Tudor Revival-style house, built in 1933 in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Portland, lets you step back in time to the days of Prohibition. There is a speakeasy-style bar and lounge in the basement.
This isn’t the only throwback to the three-level home at 3517 E. Burnside St.
Formal rooms feature classic arched entryways, vaulted ceilings, and leaded glass windows.
The spiral staircase is bounded by wrought iron railings, and dark mahogany detailing is seen on the floors, walls, and ceilings.
And it can all be yours for $1.3 million.
The 5,116-square-foot dwelling also holds a mystery: It was designed by Ewald T. Pape, who drew plans for early 20th-century Portland apartments.
Pape is credited with introducing the concept of the upscale two-story townhouse to the city when there was a severe housing shortage between the World Wars.
But architectural historians admit they don’t know much about Pape’s upbringing or where he was born in 1894 and where he died in 1976. But those close to him do.
Amanda Pape from Texas has been researching Ewald Theodore Pape, who is her first cousin, twice removed, on and off since 2011.
With her skills as a retired college librarian and records manager, bolstered by a free one-year subscription to GenealogyBank that she won at the Texas State Genealogical Society conference, she rummaged through old journals, PastPortland.com and the Oregon Historic Places Database to piece together Ewald’s life. .
He was born in Düsseldorf, Westphalia, Germany, and arrived in New York a few days before his 19th birthday in 1913 on the passenger ship SS Frederick the Great. He first resided with relatives in Illinois, where he met his future wife, Alma.
In 1924, he was living in the then 10-year-old Royal Palms Apartments in Old Town northwest Portland and working as a draftsman, when he and Alma married and moved to the then-aged Housman Apartments. 12 (now Casa Linda) in Nob Hill in Northwest Portland. Their son, Albert, was born in 1928.
In 1925, Ewald advertised his services as a designer of custom “character” homes and was soon working for developers of multi-family housing.
The city’s biggest promotional event, the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, which lasted several months, sparked a population explosion, instantly creating a need for housing that included socially acceptable “apartment buildings“.
Designed to look like expensive single-family residences from the outside, each of the apartments had kitchens, tiled bathrooms, and more amenities than a room in a boarding house, long-term hotel, or stripped-down apartment.
In Northwest Portland, early apartments were typically three or four stories high and were arranged in an L, H, or U shape to let light and air in through the windows in each studio or multi-bedroom unit. The front doors were accessible from the hallways.
On the east side, where land was cheaper, garden apartment complexes, with a separate exterior entrance for each apartment, were popular, according to researchers in the National Register of Historic Place’s Middle Class Apartment Buildings in East Portland report.
The report said Ewald Pape’s east side townhouses were an enhancement to multi-family living, with individual front and rear entrances and green space. Two-story units had a staircase with wrought-iron railings.
Pope’s most notable townhouse projects still exist. They understand:
- The 1928 Burrell Heights apartments, designed in a Mission style for developer Robert S. McFarland, were the first complex to consist entirely of two-story townhouses.
- The 1929 Thompson Court Apartments, originally developer William K. Johnson’s Johnson Apartments, have a modern look with dark brickwork and decorative flourishes of Renaissance and Mediterranean architecture.
- The 1929 San Farlando Apartments for McFarland have a sister building to the east, both forming a U-shaped complex.
Amanda Pape wrote in her genealogy blog, ABT UNK, that during World War II most architects were busy with federal mass housing projects and raw materials were devoted to the war effort.
As demand for private residential design services waned, Ewald Pape, who was not a licensed architect, found work as an estimator for the Portland Door Company. When the war ended, he returned to custom home design and developed homes on speculation.
In 1955, Ewald Pape’s name disappeared from the Portland City Directory, but Amanda Pape’s research found a record of him in southeastern Los Angeles County. There, the Downey City Directory has him working as a designer for the Anthony Homes division of the Anthony Brothers Pool Company.
Ewald retired in 1968 and died in Downey in 1976, aged 81. Alma and Albert also died in California, and since Albert had no children, there are no direct descendants, Amanda Pape said.
Pape was commissioned by Portland entrepreneur Frank A. Read to design the house for sale in Laurelhurst.
When completed, the house, which has a steeply pitched roof, was described in an Oregon article as “an English Tudor theme…with a harmonious blend of stucco, stone, brick and Of wood”.
Yet an Oregon ad placed by Read called it “colonial, exceptional in appearance, faultless in construction.”
Over his four-decade career, Read built Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival homes, using many of the same building materials, according to Doug Decker’s Alameda Old House History blog.
The house for sale, which has a stone entrance and a “party room”, found a buyer in 1933, the last year of Prohibition: Doctor Raymond R. Staub and his wife, Pearl, lived there with their two children through at least January 1951.
If there was a speakeasy built into the spec house, it was most likely overlooked by Raymond Staub, whose influential father, the Reverend John James Staub, was the minister of Staub Memorial Congregational Church, also known as name of Community Bible Fellowship and Sunnyside Congregational. Church, in southeast Portland.
But maybe not. Raymond Staub was the Chairman of the Portland Aeronautics Board of Directors. The bar’s original woodwork and aeronautical theme “commemorate” Staub as the first owner, according to listing agent Leslee Dirk of ERA Freeman & Associates.
The Stanley Spencer Malinsky family owned the house from around 1952 until at least the end of 1968, according to research by Amanda Pape.
The exterior and original features of the 89-year-old home were deemed to contribute to the historic integrity of the Laurelhurst Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.
“The original features blend perfectly with the updates the sellers have implemented since owning the house” for 21 years, says Dirk.
The expanded kitchen, with granite countertops, connects to the family room and nook. The master suite has a dressing room with original fitted wardrobes as well as leaded glass windows that open to the main entrance. There are three further bedrooms, another bathroom and a shower room.
The speakeasy, mentioned in Dirk’s marketing materials, comes with a black sink and drinks fridge.
There is also an oversized garage sharing the 7,405 square foot lot.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072
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