Morris Marks: Through the Eyes of a Budding Architecture Student

This week we welcome our newest intern, Kylee Hansen to the ARCIFORM team with a post she wrote on her favorite project; the Morris Marks house.

An old, forgotten Italianate house sat quietly on SW 12th and Main. Arched windows were boarded and the property fenced off. As I surveyed each cornice, bracket and quoining detail, I was staggered: how could this architectural beauty be abandoned?

For most of my life I paid no attention to architectural style, but the Morris Marks House changed that. Suddenly I had a thirst for its history: who built it, and how? The incredible craftsmanship was evident, despite its age. Delving into its history, the more I found, the more I wanted to know. I enrolled in PCC’s Architectural Design & Drafting program with a mission to share my new love of architecture, inspired by this amazing house.

I walked by to admire it often and reached out to its owners, who were actively trying to save it. Portland’s need for more housing put it at risk for being razed. The idea of demolishing it was unthinkable. This house was 138 years old and going strong; it survived longer than any of us. What happened to respecting our elders?

One day I noticed a sign posted for relocation – my favorite house was moving! I had to witness how modern technology could help preserve this historic home. Elated, I attended all 3 days of the move. On the last day, the crowd cheered as the two halves of the house were slowly pieced back together on its new site.

That day I discovered ARCIFORM, who has managed the house’s rehabilitation. I knew this would be a match made in heaven for the Morris Marks House.

AHC’s Old House Revival Tour

When I first set foot inside the door, I was breathless. Before me was a sweeping staircase where at least five layers of wallpaper peeled from the walls. I felt something very special, surrounded by high ceilings and intricate millwork. Passing through pocket doors, I found elaborate wainscoting, voids for fireplaces, a small kitchen and servant stairwell at the back.

I imagined the home in all its different phases. Drawn to the front bedroom, I looked at the city through its bay window. How sensational to be on the inside of this house I’d studied for years from the sidewalk!

Marveling at corbels and gorgeous ceiling medallions, I ran into Anne De Wolf, principal designer and owner of ARCIFORM. After she answered all my questions, I realized I was the last tour-goer there! Gazing once more around the space, I thanked them and watched them lock up behind me.

Months later, still inspired by my visit, I reached out to ARCIFORM for an informational interview. After a few meetings, I was brought on board as an intern! Now I get to look at each building and learn its story, including the Morris Marks House and its progress. It’s an incredible opportunity. I’m grateful that ARCIFORM could provide a happy ending to the Morris Marks house story, and a happy beginning to mine!

Kylee’s hometown is Silverton. While architectural studies fill most of her time, she also enjoys playing guitar, piano and writing! When asked about her favorite Portland neighborhood, she said,

Portland has so many wonderful neighborhoods that it’s difficult to pick a favorite, but I do love Irvington and SW Vista.”

She leaves us with a poem:

The Morris Marks House

“Speaking of history, another fell”
This Italianate gem glimmers bright
Every cornice ornate, dancing in white
It has no cost, some things aren’t meant to sell.
Must humans destroy the stories you tell?
Bay rounded windows, scrolled slivers of light
Through thrice of your life those beams have held tight
With absence of past this world would be hell.

New site developers with green to gain
Roots weaken when ripped from foundation’s grasp
Romantic pillars, rococo style lace
Preserving our past downtown 12th and Main
Like a plant it grows, the soft spoken rasp
This aged stunning beauty needs saving grace.
– Kylee Hansen

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *