Small Footprint Duplex

Beep’s Home

Built as a duplex in 1948/1949, this property could fit a variety of uses and should appeal to fans of small footprint living. You could maintain it as a duplex; combine into one unit; use it as live/work or [your idea here].  The site is 1/4 acre with a nice southwestern slope and exposure, mature trees, lovely garden areas and a palpable sense of place.  This property has soul.

Maybe a little back story would be amusing and even help explain the soul.  The whole hillside area was at one time a large dairy and Radcliffe Lane was a farm track.  The dairy went out of business at some point and in the mid forties a local female real estate agent had it parceled into half acre lots which she sold off.

DeWitt Robinson's house
DeWitt Robinson Home

The first buyer of the Radcliffe Lane parcels was DeWitt Robinson an architect who had come to Portland in 1946 to work in Pietro Belluschi’s office.  He purchased the parcel at the end of the track in 1947 and built a house on it for his family.  His son Tyler, also an architect is now the owner and, having grown up there, is the source of this back story.

The second buyer on Radcliffe was Beulah Wahlgren, who purchased the tract that this duplex is on.  Beulah was a real personality and a formidable character.  According to Robinson she was known in the neighborhood as “Beep.”  She was a nurse and during World War II she was in the Phillipines and served as the driver for General MacArthur’s son.  She also spent time as a prisoner of war there.  When she returned she became a caregiver, working for individual families.  She purchased the property and had the duplex built; a one bedroom unit on one side and a studio unit on the other.  She lived in the studio.

Her first tenant was Hobart Wagener who was also an architect who came to Portland to work in Belluschi’s office.  He lived there with his wife and first child.  Wagener eventually moved to Boulder Colorado where he became a quite successful architect doing many houses and civic structures, many for the University of Colorado.

Beep’s second tenant was the only other tenant she ever had, staying there until Beep sold the property many years later.  The second tenant’s name was Jean Horner and she was a professional photographer.   Beep was also a creative in that she had a love of plants and started a nursery on the property called Green Gems featuring rhodies, azaleas, and pines.  According to Robinson, all of the kids in the neighborhood, himself included, worked for Beep in her nursery.

Mid Century Modern Northwes Regional
Charles Johnson Home

There was something about Radcliffe Lane because another tract, one adjacent to Dewitt Robinson’s, was bought by an architect named Charles Johnson who also worked in Belluschi’s office.  Johnson built a home for his family on the site.

So at the end of the farm track known now as Radcliffe Lane, there settled a nice collection of modern creatives who built houses for themselves.  And something very interesting is that they all built small houses for themselves.  On large half acre sites they put up small affordable but stylish homes.  DeWitt Robinson’s original house was 700 square feet, with 540 added later.  DeWitt died in 1962 but his wife Jean stayed in the house until her death in 2013.  Charles Johnson started out with a house of 530 square feet.  He lived there with his wife and three kids , eventually adding on 900 square feet.  And Beulah aka “Beep” built a duplex, each unit being 572 square feet where lived by all accounts a rich life for  many years until 1990 when she moved to Estacada.

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