I discovered this lovely Victorian house earlier this week. I have since learned that it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The information below comes from the National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form.
I have omitted the detailed descriptions of the building’s elevations, windows, doors and roof. I’ve also cut tedious details about the pool house and the landscaping. It is worth noting, however, that in 1980, the house was served by a curved driveway that extended all the way to the front steps. It is no longer there and, in fact, there is no access to house from N. Willamette Boulevard.
I gather that high expectations that the house would be restored, which go back to the 1980s, have yet to be realized. The first thing I would do is repaint the house, because otherwise it’s akin to a piece of fine furniture that’s been left out to weather on the front yard.
The John Mock House is one of Portland’s best-preserved examples of Queen Anne/Victorian architecture. It is excellently situated above the Willamette River and was designed and built by unknown person or persons on the site of two previous Mock houses, the oldest dating from 1853.
The interior is superbly detailed and is substantially unaltered from its original state. The Mock House has been continuously associated with persons and events vital to the evolution of Portland’s architectural, political and cultural heritage and deserves recognition by the National Register.
Biographical Information About Past Owners
1. John Mock’s Parents
In 1833 Henry Arnold Mock and his wife, Maria Elizabeth Meyer, emigrated to America from Germany. Settling in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, five years later on October 4, 1838, Maria gave birth to the couple’s only child, John. In Mechanicsburg, Henry engaged in several occupations including that of a sailor, farmer, and shoemaker. By 1844, he had saved enough money to move his family to Platte County, Missouri, and purchase a forty-acre farm. There the family settled and worked the land for eight years.
In the spring of 1852, lured into the westward migration, Henry Mock sold his farm, packed both his family and his most valued worldly possessions into a wagon, and began their journey across the Great Plains to Oregon. By this time, John was fourteen years old and a man by pioneer standards. He proved himself particularly adept in the handling of the family’s four-yoke oxen wagon, often with two additional cows hitched up. In fact, John was so skillful at driving the team that all six original animals survived the Plains crossing.
In the late summer of 1852, the Mock family arrived in The Dalles, Oregon. There they sold two of their oxen, loaded the wagon on a river scow, and drifted down the Columbia River. John, however, stayed behind, and drove the remaining oxen and cows overland, where he met his parents at the Upper Cascades. Here they disembarked from the scow and proceeded further down the river by wagon to the Lower Cascades. At the Lower Cascades, Henry and Maria again boarded the scow, John drove the oxen and cows overland, and by early fall both groups arrived in Sandy, Oregon. In Sandy, the family reloaded the wagon and made their way to Portland, arriving in October 1852.
The Mock family’s first three weeks in Portland were spent camping in Sullivan’s Gulch. Turning their cattle loose in order to graze, the animals ran off during an unwatched moment. In the search that followed, the Mocks stumbled upon what is now St. John’s, where they met Dr. Charles Staples, Portland’s first practicing and properly educated physician.
Dr. Staples convinced the family to occupy a house on his property and weather the winter storms there. Henry, Maria, and John remained guests of Dr. Staples until the spring of 1853, when, with the advice of Dr. Staples, Henry Mock took up a donation land claim of 317 acres in the vicinity of what is now the University of Portland. That claim included what are today’s North Portland neighborhoods of University Park, Mock’s Crest and Mock’s Bottom. With the aid of neighbors, the Mock’s built their first log cabin, which was the family home until 1874.
2. John Mock
During his first four years in Portland, John Mock cleared, worked, and helped further develop the family farm. Yet, by 1857 and at the age of eighteen, John left home for a career in mining and running a pack train. Taking advantage of his pioneer experiences, John was apparently successful as both a miner and "mule skinner."
However, after six years he returned to his Portland home, lived with his mother and father, and began again to work the farm.
In 1867, Maria Elizabeth Mock died. At this point, John purchased the farm from his aging and apparently disheartened father. Gathering his savings, Henry Arnold returned to his native Germany where he was promptly swindled out of his small fortune. He was thus forced to return to the U.S., where he lived with his son John until 1883, when he died at the age of ninety-one.
On August 4, 1874, John Mock married Mary M. Sunderland, originally of Iowa. John immediately began the construction of a new family cabin of hewn log. Finished in the same year, the cabin was much more spacious and thus able to house an ever growing family. Included were his wife, Mary; his father, Henry; his oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth; hisonly son, John Benjamin; his second daughter, Lillie Catherine;and his last child, Margaret Alice.
Tragically, in 1889, the Mock family cabin burned down, along with virtually all of the family’s possessions. As a result, John Mock initiated the construction of the house that still stands today, known as Mock’s residence. Completed in 1894, John Mock lived there until 1918, when he died.
John Mock, as one of the founders of Portland, was originally well known for his pioneering efforts in raising livestock and mining in the local area. Later, as a City Councilman, he was instrumental in developing and initiating a street-railway system that reached out to the St. John’s area. Moreover, John Mock donated large tracks of land to the city for the implementation of a street system which led to the development of a fine residentia lcommunity. Finally, near the end of his life, John Mock donated the land for the building of Columbia University, presently the University of Portland.
Both Mock’s Crest, near the University, and Mock’s Bottom, near Swan Island, are named for John Mock, acknowledging his contribution to Portland as one of its original pioneers and most active and concerned of citizens.
3. Owners After John Mock’s Death
After John Mock’s death, the present home was subsequently owned and occupied by his children and in-laws at various times: Margaret Alice Mock, the youngest child who remained single her entire life, and who was noted for the creation of a generous scholarship fund for graduating senior at Roosevelt High School; Lillie Catherine (Mock) Amos, the second daughter of John Mock, and wife of the well-known physician and famous prohibitionist Dr. William F. Amos; Mary Elizabeth (Mock) Yeon, the eldest Mock child and wife of John B. Yeon.
Mr. Yeon was a well-known Oregon logger, builder, real estate developer, and is considered the "father of the Columbia River Highway." John B. Yeon is the grandfather of the noted architect, John Yeon.
In the mid-1950’s, the family sold the Mock home to Harold LaDuke, for which the LaDuke Terrace addition is named.
4. The Owners in 1980
The Mock House is now owned and occupied by Mr. Lewis E. Alexander, and his wife, Fern T. Alexander. Both are Native Americans and hail from Oklahoma.
Mr. Alexander is of the Creek-Seminole people and Mrs. Alexander is of Oto-Missouria origin. Presently, Mr. Alexander is the Executive Director of the Portland Urban Indian Council, Inc., providing a variety of social services for the local Native American population.
In the recent past, Mr. Alexander has served both the Schrunk and Goldschmidt administrations in the Mayor’s Office. Between 1970 and 1972, he was Manpower Coordinator for the City of Portland, in which he served as the Mayor’s staff advisor on all manpower and related programs. Further, he was Chairperson of the Mayor’s Manpower Area Planning Council and was instrumental in codifying and developing a program of evaluating the City’s Manpower planning problems. Mr. Alexander has remained active in Indian cultural affairs throughout his life.
Former President of New Mexico Council of AmericanIndians, and presently a member of several other regional and national Indian organizations, in 1974, he was selected the administrative coordinator for the "Native American’s Earth" presentation at Expo ’74 in Spokane, and was an active member of Expo ’74’s general manager’s staff,
In 1968, Mrs. Alexander was named the American Indian of the Year and travelled to Washington, D.C. to receive the honor. During the administration of President Kennedy, she was appointed "counselor" to the Department of the Interior in regards to Indian affairs~a position Mrs. Alexander still remains active in today. Like her husband, she is very active in local, regional, and national Indian affairs and participates in several related organizations. Presently, Mrs. Alexander is the
Chairperson and the Director of Communications for the North American Indian Woman’s Association of Oregon.
Description of the House
The interior of the Mock’s Residence consists of a 1,500 square foot basement; a 2,000 square foot first floor a 1,900 square foot second floor; and an attic with 1,000 usable square feet. The basement is used as a laundry room and recreational area, whereas the attic, though largely unfinished, has one insulated room for storage purposes.
1. The First Floor
The first floor was originally designed to and presently serves as the family living area. Likewise, the second floor was designed expressly for individual sleeping and dressing rooms, and remains so today.
The entry hall allows access from the front porch through the main doors to the main hall-foyer. The entry is 6′ x 5’6" and contains an inner pair of 8′ high doors, with stained glass inserts, that separate it from the hall-foyer. The floor is surfaced in ceramic tile, and the doors and wainscoting are natural-finish hardwood panels. The main hall-foyer is irregular in shape, approximately 22′ x 8’6" in size. The floors are fully carpeted and the ceiling is textured with a cut crystal chandelier. The walls are painted, yet all doors and the accompanying wood decor are of natural finish.
An open curved stairway leads to the second floor. The newel post and rails are carved hardwood and given a natural finish.
Between the entry hall and stairway is an 8′ x 5’6" cloakroom. It has hanging space for clothing on both sides and a sit down storage bench. This walk-in cloakroom is fully carpeted and has a half rounded stained glass window facing the front yard.
To the left of the entry hall as one enters the hall-foyer, is the sitting room. Measuring 14′ x 17′, one enters the sitting room through a 5′ x 8′ pocket door from the hall-foyer. The room has a textured ceiling, painted walls, and a bowed front window stretching the full width of the room. The sitting room is fully carpeted.
The living room, originally the parlor and music room, is to the right of the hall-foyer and is entered through a pair of 5′ x 8′ pocketed doors. The room is irregular in shape, yet averages 29′ x 14′ in size. A high cased opening topped with fancy spindle work and a cut out lyre separates the south nine feet of the room. This section of the living room is lined with built-in bookcases, except for the window areas.
The fireplace at the north end of the room is surrounded by a natural finish oak mantle and side sections with a beveled edge plate glass mirror back. It has a ceramic tile face and an iron plate fire screen with adjustable vents. The ceiling is textured, the walls are painted, and the floor is carpeted.
One gains access to the dining room via a 4′ x 8′ high pocket door at the north end of the living room. The ceiling was hand-painted by New York artist Charles Ammann in 1930. The chandelier has eight branches and is of Victorian design. The fixture was originally gas fueled, but has since been converted to electricity. The fireplace, at the southern end of the room, is similar in styling to the one in the living room. It has a ceramic face and hearth, an iron plate fire screen, and a natural finish oak wood mantle. However, the side shelves have more spindle work and there is a smaller mirror. The northern wall has a scenic mural of the "Villa d’Este." Painted in moss green and blue, it was done by an unknown artist at an unknown date. The woodwork in the room is largely painted in satin enamel, excepting the spindle work, the doors, and the dado inserts. The remaining walls are likewise painted and the floor is carpeted. The dining room measures 19′ x 14′.
The breakfast room, presently serving as an informal bar, opens off of the dining room through a high cased opening topped by fine wood spindle work. Facing the east, the room is walled by two full sides of glass windows taking full advantage of the sun during the first half of the day. The remaining two walls and ceiling are painted to compliment the dining room, and the floor is completely surfaced with ceramic tile. The breakfast room measures 6′ x 10′.
At the north end of the hall-foyer is the center hall. Measuring 3′ x 10′, it has a dropped ceiling topped with a fancy wood spindle work. The floor is carpeted, the walls are painted, and the center hall leads one to the main floor bathroom and to the office.
The office is 10′ x 8’6" and has a dropped ceiling. This room does not reflect the architectural period of the house as do the other rooms. The office has wainscote-height paneling and built-in cabinets shelves. The floor is carpeted.
The main floor bathroom measures 7’6" x 15′. It has a built-in vanity with a large mirror and double swag lights, the ceiling is original hand painted, and has a wall-hung water closet. The bathroom has been fitted by a modern toilet and 4’6"tub with an overhead shower.
The kitchen is a modern "U"-shaped design with several built-in appliances. One can enter the kitchen from the rear hall or from the pantry via the dining room. The kitchen is 12′ x 16’6", it has a 9′ kitchen bar with an eating shelf and a 7’6" nook with space for a small kitchen table. The room is well lighted and fully carpeted.
The pantry is located between the dining room and kitchen and has access to both. The walls are lined with upper and lower cabinets for storage, and there is an open counter space. The pantry is carpeted and opens up on to the back porch.
The rear stair is three feet wide and leads off the rear hallway to the second floor central hallway. Given a natural wood finish, it has one landing and winders that provide for a ninety-degree turn.
2. The Second Floor
The second floor consists of a main hallway, a small rear hall, a bathroom, a master bedroom, and five additional bedrooms. All the rooms on this floor have wood panel doors with transom lights above each.
The main hallway averages 8’6" x 12′ and opens off the main stairway from the first floor hall-foyer. The hallway runs north and south and thus divides the second floor into east and west sections. At the southern end of the hallway is a stained glass insert door leading onto the front balcony. The hall carpet is the same as that of the main floor: a gold acrilan over a 70-ounce foam pad with a high/low tip sheared pattern.
The rear hall, located at the north end of the second floor, ranges from four to five feet in width. Carpeted, it leads to the rear stairway which, in turn, takes one down to the first floor, providing easy access to the pantry and kitchen.
The master bedroom is irregular in shape, yet average 24′ x 14′ in size. It has ivory colored wallpaper, ivory colored woodwork finish, and a pink wool carpet. Both windows in the room are boxed out. The east window is an Austrian shade with over drapes and valances in green and gold antique satin. The front corner windows have draw sheers, with a draw drapes valance. The front corner window seat is covered with green crushed velvet.
The master bedroom has its own bathroom, while the remaining five bedrooms share the hallway bathroom. The master bedroom bathroom is now a modern facility with tiled floor and walls. Entering through café doors, the bathroom contains a marble-top vanity, a 3′ x 4’6" shower, and a hung water closet.
Within the entry-hall of the master bedroom are the original hall lights above a large framed mirror. Further centered in the sitting area hangs a Maria Theresa cut crystal chandelier.
The remaining five bedrooms range in size from as large as 18’6" x 10’6" to as small as 12′ x 8′. Located on both sides of the main hall, they now serve as guest rooms for visiting friends and relatives.
The northeast bedroom has double closets- and an off-white acrylic carpet, and washable pink wallpaper; the southwest bedroom’ has two windows with a view of the city, a connecting door with the west-center bedroom, the walls are painted, and retains its original carpet; the west-center bedroom, adjoining the southwest bedroom, has painted walls, a wool blue carpet, and a set of boxed out windows with stained glass; the northwest bedroom is painted and is floored with a green nylon carpet; the final bedroom also serves as a linen storage room. With its original carpet, this bedroom has an entire wall devoted to storage containing doors and drawers. Further, the room has a walk-in closet with drawers and shelves for more storage.
The hallway bathroom is for the occupants of the five subordinate bedrooms. Measuring 8’x9′ in size, it is a completely new and modern facility excepting its original six foot long bathtub.
The upper-half story serves as an attic for the Mock House. It is basically unfinished except for one room with a 1,000 square foot area. Serving as a storage room, it is insulated, contains several storage cabinets, and usually remains locked.
Of further interest: In 1971, a four-ton Rheem central air-conditioning unit was installed. It serves the entire main floor, the master bedroom, and two more bedrooms on the second floor.
The system’s installation was an amazing feat, in that first it could be installed at all in a structure such as Mock’s Residence, and second; that it was accomplished without compromising the home’s appearance.