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Dr. Homer H. Harris House listed in the National Register of Historic Places

March 21, 2017

The Dr. Homer H. Harris House in Portland, Multnomah County, is among Oregon’s latest entries in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Dr. Harris House was designed in the Northwest Regional style by designer/builder Wilbur Mark Perrault and constructed in 1957 in the Council Crest neighborhood of Portland’s southwest hills.  The house was designed for Dr. Homer H. Harris, a leading forensic pathologist in the State of Oregon and director of the Oregon State Crime Laboratory from 1951 to 1955.  Harris was an innovator in the emerging field of forensic pathology.  Before taking on the position of Director of the crime lab, Harris apprenticed with the chief medical examiner of New York City, learning the latest technics in forensic medicine and crime investigation.  His last position before retirement was as Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for Multnomah County. 

Designer/builder Mark Perrault moved to Portland from his native Montana to work building defense housing during World War II.  He became a very successful builder in the competitive post-World War II environment.  He is best known for developing a series of product lines that could be customized in varying degrees, directed at middle class clients, particularly those looking for a vacation or second home.  Later in his career he focused on developing popular prototype residences that could be mass-marketed.  The one-story Harris house sits high within its narrow, steep lot over a raised basement.  It is integrated with its outdoor living areas through nearly floor-to-ceiling windows encircling the rear of the house and overlooking asymmetrical, stepped decks and a 1956 landscape designed by landscape architect Fairbanks D. Chandler.  An outstanding feature of the house, which is one of Perrault’s early custom homes, is the arrangement of the rooms on both floors around a large, oversized brick island that organizes the spaces around it, in addition to serving the three fireplaces of the house. 

Oregon’s State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation recommended the building’s nomination in their October 2016 meeting.  The Harris House is among nearly 300 single family properties in Portland that are individually listed in the National Register which is maintained by the National Park Service under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

More information about the National Register and recent Oregon lists is online at www.oregonheritage.org (click on “National Register” at left of page).