National Register of Historic Places, historic homes, lush gardens
A 2010 addition to the National Register of Historic Places, Portland’s Irvington neighborhood is a slice of the American dream where luxurious porches and ornate entryways overlook expansive green lawns and sidewalk swings hanging from tree branches, sometimes with a secret treefort hidden high amongst the leaves as well.
Historic Homes and Lush Gardens
Originally plotted as an east side suburb in the late 1800s, Irvington was designed to be a middle- to upper-class residential district where commercial activity was prohibited. Wealthy residents flocked to the area during the early 1900s, building some of the largest houses in the city and flaunting common period styles like arts and crafts, craftsman, colonial revival, prairie style and bungalow. For the first 25 years of the neighborhood’s existence, there were also strict conditions placed upon builders aimed at maintaining the area’s exclusiveness, such as each residence must cost at least $2,500, lots were a minimum of 50 feet wide, houses had to be 25 feet back from the property line, and no liquor production was allowed at neighborhood residences. The grandeur of this legacy has mostly remained intact as the quiet, tree-lined streets still offer an impressive display of early 20th century residential architecture, with some 2,800 properties—the largest historic district in Oregon—“of which 85 percent are considered ‘contributing’ and retain their original appearance,” according to the Irvington Community Association’s home tour, and almost no commercial activity. Of course, you can stroll around Irvington any time of the year (or take a virtual tour, or, if you’re ambitious, make your own walking tour based on photo tours from previous years) and enjoy the beautiful period architecture, but each May on the third Sunday, the official Irvington Home Tour gives you the opportunity to go inside some of these amazing residences. Owners do their spring cleaning and then open their doors to the public to raise funds for the Irvington Community Association (ICA). Running for 30 consecutive years, “the Irvington Home Tour is the longest continuously running neighborhood home tour in Portland,” according to its website, and the sole source of funds for the ICA. Learn about the more recent history of the neighborhood and the genesis of the home tour.
Irvington is named for Captain William Irving, a 17th century Scottish steamship captain, who owned much of the land where the present-day neighborhood currently sits. Thus, it’s no surprise that two community recreational staples bear his name: The 16-acre Irving Park, located in the northeastern extremity of Irvington, is built on land originally owned by Captain Irving, while the elite Irvington Club, which is the oldest tennis club in the state as well as one of the oldest in the country, has been in operation since 1898. The nonprofit, member-owned complex features indoor and outdoor courts, a swimming pool and weight room, spa and sauna, and a historic ballroom and clubhouse, where you can lounge and contemplate photographs from the club’s storied past. For some sport that doesn’t require reservations or a dress code, the ample Irving Park also offers tennis as well as basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, walking paths, picnic tables, and areas for both the pups and kids to run free. The latter can scramble around the jungle gym or, on hot afternoons, splash in the spectacular water feature.
Eat and Drink
1425 NE Broadway
Portland OR 97232
When Elizabeth Nathan decided to get in the frozen yogurt game, she had her children, Eben and Sabine, in mind. She wanted them to treat them to what all kids want—sweets—but she wanted those sweets to be as clean and healthy as possible. After leaving a job in San Francisco’s publishing world (a job that allowed her to work remotely from Portland for years), she set off for France (where she studied the art of crafting ice cream and pastries) before returning to Stumptown and promptly setting her sights on opening a small-batch frozen yogurt shop that she hopes locals will come to know for its healthy, high-quality, organic, thoughtfully and locally sourced ingredients. She describes her small-batch craft yogurts as having clean and creamy mouth feels with flavors ranging from vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, marionberry and dairy-free almond coconut. And for the kids (and the kids in all you grown-ups), Nathan offers all sorts of playful toppings, including some sourced from spots right here in town like Kim Boyce’s Bakeshop.
2005 NE Broadway
Portland OR 97232
Seth Brock says he defines success as “doing what you love with the people you love.” The things he loves are coffee and music. The people he loves are his brothers, Jarrod and Darren. A few years back, he and his brothers teamed up with another pair of brothers, Gibson and Jamin Coy, to form the retro pop rock outfit Redcast. Now, with Gibson’s help, the Brocks have opened their first cafe, a 10-seater that brews Coava coffees and Steven Smith teas and serves fresh pastries from Kir Jensen’s Sugar Cube. And, Brock says it’s not like this new business opportunity came about whimsically: While making music continues to be a priority, Brock says he and Darren have lots of experience pulling espresso shots as both are longtime baristas.
Breakfast/Brunch at Milo's City Cafe
The name of the game at Loren Skogland and Marianne Meskel Skogland's cafe is names. The space is named for Marianne's father, the Marianne Benedict is, naturally, named for the proprietress, and Jeremy's thin and fluffy, yet wonderfully decadent peanut butter and chocolate waffle is named after the couple's youngest. Of course, the other name of the game is eggs—the brunch menu offers nearly 30 egg dishes. Marianne says Milo's is best known for its bennies (there are six in all), and chief among them is, not surprisingly, the Marianne—a pair of poached eggs covered in béarnaise sauce and placed atop a pair of medium-rare steak tenderloin cutlets. Although, on weekends, Loren will rotate in as many as eight seasonal benny specials. All the Benedicts come with potatoes, natch, but they're also paired with a cup of fresh fruit topped, if you're lucky, with a little plastic toy animal. Breakfast is served daily—from 6:30 to 11 a.m. on weekdays and from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Vegan Brunch at Blossoming Lotus
There comes a time when even the toothiest carnivore realizes that he or she can eat only so much pork belly. Fortunately, not every joint in town is a meat house, and when it comes to vegan fare, few kitchens put out deliciously wholesome plates as consistently as Blossoming Lotus does. Want something raw? The “live nachos” may be BL’s most popular dish, but the crispy, crunchy Moroccan collard rolls (spiced carrot salad, cabbage, beets and spiced peanuts wrapped in greens and pasted shut with a creamy sunflower-and-sesame seed pâte) are definitely worth a spin. Also worth sinking your fork into is the rather inventive and florentine-ish Lotus Benedict (scrambled tofu, heirloom tomatoes, wilted spinach, mushroom, walnut and brown rice “sausage” patties, and a cashew-based “hollandaise” atop a split biscuit). As far as sweets go, it’s incumbent to try the French toast (three thick slices of battered and griddled zucchini bread, organic maple syrup and an orange-molasses “butter”), a dish that, quite frankly (and quite pleasantly), tastes like Halloween—or at least your fondest memories of Halloweens past. But if you’re looking for a show-stopper, get the Bloody Mary. Why’s it so good? Because the bar staff chops plenty of garlic into it, sprinkles it with ground cumin, squeezes in some lemon juice, and even juices fresh cilantro for it. It’s thick, spicy and, yes, better than most, if not the best. Brunch lasts from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Irvington Community Association
Coalition Office: Northeast Coalition of Neighbors
Capital Improvement Projects
Northeast Portland Tool Library