Our Volcano Views in Oregon and Washington

Witness Post: SW Fairmount Blvd

The house at 2830 SW Fairmount Boulevard in Portland, Oregon, was the first home built on what was known as “Mount Adams Park No. 2.” As I came to find out, the history of the southwest neighborhood around Gale Avenue and Fairmount Boulevard is an interesting one to explore for context and content. The neighbors (and residents) and the best part.

Talbot Mountain

The neighborhood of “Mount Adams Park” was carved out of the expansive Talbot properties, which circled around Council Crest in SW Portland. At 1,071 feet, Council Crest is one of the highest points in Portland’s West Hills (the Tualatin Mountains) and it is well known for its beautiful views of Portland and its environs. The hill was part of a donation land claim by John B. Talbot. The area was first known as Talbot Mountain. Later, the hill became known as Glass Hill and then Fairmount, which is the name of a road that encircles Council Crest. In 1898, delegates to the Triennial National Council of Congregational Churches met on the hill and decided to name it Council Crest. It became a popular amusement park that served anyone who wanted to take the Portland street cars to the end of the line. [1]

Council Crest, Portland

The Fairmount Loop

In the early 1950’s, with veterans returning from WWII, scenic homes in Portland were built all around Council Crest, the Fairmount Loop, and the West Hills. By the mid-1950’s spec homes were built on open and wooded lots for those who wanted a mountain or greenery view, yet wanted to be close to businesses in downtown Portland.

Previous Owners

In 1957, the lots were drawn on the regional map and homes were outlined north and south along Fairmount Boulevard (lots 1 to 8 and 23 to 30) and west along Gale Avenue (lots 9 to 22). The home at 2830 SW Fairmount Boulevard (lot 21) was built in the early 60’s and sold to Ray Doherty and his wife, Lucille, and their son. “They moved from Pendleton to Portland, but did not live at that address for very long,” recalls neighbor and matriarch, Esther Niehaus. [2] “I think their son played football at Jesuit High School and may have had an accident, so the couple eventually moved to a smaller house.”

After the Doherty’s came the Rausch family. “The Rausch’s lived in the house for 30 years or so and they had five children,” recalled Esther. She knows the Rausch parents (Dick & Elita) and children’s names (Lisa, Ricky, Michael, Cici and Mary), recalling them rapidly, nicknames and all. “They really made the community on Gale and Fairmount flow out the door and down the street … Dick and Elita Rausch were great neighbors and Elita was an outstanding gardener with prize roses. My son, Bob, was good friends with the boys and they were always getting into some mischief or another.” The family loved the neighborhood and only moved away because Dick got sick and he was preparing to retire to a smaller place. “Professionally, I think that Dick was in sales for the Blitz Weinhard Brewery, but he was best known for his love of golf. He was president of the Portland Golf Club and a member of the MAC Club and the Racquet Club.”

Marquam Nature Park and Fairmount Loop

After the Rausch’s moved, the house was bought by Lawrence and Carolyn Newlands. Esther does not know how long they lived there, records say it was about two years, but Esther believed that it was good for the neighborhood that the Newlands were across the street. She recalls that Carolyn was a school teacher and had important things to say to anyone who would listen.

Next arrived the Johnson’s: Anna, Gary, Lawrence, Kristi and Harold, if I have the names right. It is hard to determine how long the Johnson’s stayed in 2830 SW Fairmount, but Esther recalls that they sold the house to Scott Werner and John Lippe, a retired pediatrician and a landscape architect. The Werner/Lippe team, affectionately known as Scott and John, lived here in 2009. They are best known for their artistic flair and for hosting lots of fun parties on the back deck of the home, which they expanded.

Scott and John sold the home to Nancy Boughton in 2017. Nancy seems to have moved to the neighborhood to be close to her son, Will Carter, who was studying to be a doctor at OHSU. Nancy travelled extensively as a finance manager and ended up selling the house to us, Henry and Tracy Hooper in late 2019. Nancy accepted our offer on Christmas Day! We signed the purchase documents over the holidays.

If the names of the various owners are about right, we are the seventh owners of 2830 SW Fairmount in 62 years (1957-2019). Those approximate dates means, on average, that families have lived in the house for 8 years 10 months. The shortest tenure seems to be 2 years and the longest 35 or so. We are now in our third year “on the Loop,” and we have only plans to make it better and better.

View from Living Room facing north (Feb. 2020)

For the past two years we remodeled the kitchen, master bath, front landscape, powder room/laundry, and downstairs office, making renovations that fit our lifestyle and tastes.

In the ADU we renovated with some sound insulation, sound proofing, dry wall, gardening and new kitchen appliances on the lower level. We are renting it out the suite to Lewis Thompson, a great guy who works at a kidney dialysis clinic across town. Our plans will try to improve our great house in the years to come.


[1] There is a rich history that has been written about the West Hills of Portland from many sources more trustworthy than mine. That said, here is a Running post I wrote when first spending time along the roads and trails in the Marquam Hill area: https://henryehooper.blog/running-council-crest/

[2] Nearly all of the names and stories from the Fairmount/Gale neighborhoods came from an interview of Esther Niehaus on August 11, 2021. She welcomed me into her house to ask a few questions. At the time of the get together, Esther’s children were getting ready to celebrate her 92nd birthday. She raised her four children (Tina, Bob, Mary and Patty) in the house across the street from ours (3235 SW Gale Avenue). “Yes, I am alone many days, I have no cell phone and no computer. My kids call me regularly and they spoil me so much … so please, PLEASE, don’t feel sorry for me and please, DON’T bring me over any food!”

Esther Niehaus at Frances Hanckel’s Farewell Party

Her husband of 59 years, Russell Niehaus, died in 2011. Sadly Russ had just put the finishing touches on their retirement villa next door (2768 SW Fairmount) to the house where they raised their family. A graduate of Central Catholic High School and the University of San Francisco Law School. Russ was an army veteran who practiced law in Portland for 50 years. The consummate volunteer, Russ’s personal and professional life reflected great moral and responsible leadership. He served on boards (radio stations, high schools, ethics committees, Catholic churches and Catholic concerns, hospital boards, and more). In 1967 he was awarded the Univ. of Notre Dame Man of the Year for his unselfish devotion to religious and civic activities. In 1988, Russ was awarded the St. Thomas More Award by Catholic Lawyers for Social Justice. His proudest achievement was creating an Adoration Chapel called the Westside Chapel, at St. Mary’s Cathedral.