Architect Benjamin Silver may live in Southwest Portland’s Sylvan Heights neighborhood, but his heart is in Northeast Portland’s Beaumont Wilshire neighborhood where he is restoring what he calls an “Alameda treasure.” Silver literally beamed when he showed off his project undertaken in August to fully restore the single family residence at 3865 N.E. Klickitat St.
From the outside, the stucco walled 1,890-square-foot structure with Spanish style triptych windows appears small and unassuming. Developers have offered to take the property off Silver’s hands for substantially more than he paid for it, but he knows that would mean demolition and replacement with two houses, something neighbors oppose. When Silver realized that what he is remodeling and restoring into his dream home would be demolished, he refused to have any part of it.
“If it’s worth saving, then save it,” he told the Hollywood Star News, making it clear that he’s not in business only to make money, but, more importantly, because he believes in and loves what he does. He said what can be salvaged of the house will be saved.
Silver spoke in measured phrases with a crisp British accent. His father was a designer/developer who brought Silver to Southern California. He said his dad came to the states “…to build houses for movie stars.” Portland’s atmosphere, vitality and climate similar to London’s clicked with Silver, and he first lived in Northeast Portland before moving to the Westside.
Two workmen were driving treated wood supports under the southeast corner of the home where dry-rotted timbers under the stucco façade had turned to dust. “You know what they’re doing?” Silver asked, “They’re raising this end of the building.” Parts of the building already leveled have had earthquake-proof reinforcements installed. Others workers were busy outside the house, working on windows of the spacious 477-square-foot living room facing the west.
These windows were painted over many years ago and encased in aluminum storm windows. They are being scraped clean, and the thoroughly rotted wood corbel trim pieces will be re-manufactured by a local woodworker with a lathe. “Many of the sub-contractors working to help restore the house are firms from right here in Northeast Portland,” Silver said, “I really feel good about how the restoration is helping the economy.”
The single-level, adobe house with a full basement sits on a 6,500-square-foot lot, and Silver is adding a larger kitchen and a master bedroom to the east side. The addition brings the house area to 2,450 square feet with three bedrooms and three and a half baths. The attic will be used for storage, and the basement will include a family room, guest bedroom and bath and a single-vehicle garage, enabling entry to the house from inside the garage.
The master bedroom will have a coved ceiling to replicate the ceiling in the living room, and throughout the house curved arches and triptych niches will keep the architecture consistent. Mike Chamness, who lives nearby and owned and lived in the house for twenty years, told the Hollywood Star News that he and many of his neighbors are really excited about what Silver is doing for the neighborhood by restoring the house.
Silver plans on moving into his restoration project when it’s finished. He clarified his belief that every established neighborhood should maintain its character for generations to come. “Am I saying no homes should be demolished?” he asked, “No! There are houses that cannot be saved and should be taken down, but they should be replaced with structures in keeping with the neighborhood character.”
More photos of this and other projects may be found at http://www.houzz.com/projects/1171876/alameda-mediterranean-restoration.