The Archibald McGill home (1907) was the first home ever built in the company town of Orenco. The Oregon Nursery Company was a big deal. The founders of the corporation owned and built themselves a town on almost 1200 Acres East of Hillsboro, Oregon and named that town Orenco. The town grew to several hundred residents and was a bustling company town where workers lived and worked growing the finest fruit trees in the world and shipping them via rail and truck around the world.
The McGill Home set the stage for the aristocrats versus the company workers. Today you now can find the Orenco Station and the Platform District as well as the Ronler Acres Intel D1 X Fab on the land once home to a mighty factory and industry. The history is a rich one so please browse our site here at OrencoLife.com to learn more.
The McGill Mansion is about 6.000 SF and it was built in 1907 for Archibald McGill and his family. He being the Junior partner and the muscle behind the business built the home on over 40 acres right along the Oregon Electric Railway at about 228th Street and Alder and on the North side of the tracks. The home faced West and featured a massive roof line with 3 fireplaces. The elongated eaves were prominent as were massive stone blocks that made the foundation. A full basement with an attic make up the home which is 4 floors in total. The Massive Oak front door opens onto a covered front porch where McGill could sit and watch the factory operations, the train, and town-folk as they traveled and shopped along Alder Street. Not much happened that he did not have purview of. The placement of the home was done in a way that it sat higher then the town and you best believe the scale and location was both ostentatious and ominous. It was clear who worked for whom given this design.
The back of the home has a servants entrance to the kitchen and also an elevated patio with an Atrium roof made of glass as well as screened porch. Bedrooms are on the top and bottom floors and the home has many unknown elements that we can tell you are of a custom uniqueness that make the home truly great. Perhaps one of the most impressive feature is the Porte cochere- a covered area to pull in the horse drawn carriage to drop off guests and deliveries as well as the McGills.
Archibald would only live in the home 5 years. Others have owned it but for upwards of 90 years it has been owned by the Pitman family of HIllsboro, Oregon. Doctor A.O. Pitman and then his Son Doctor William Gardner Pitman (AKA: “Gar”) owned and occupied the Estate until 2016. Perhaps the most relevant thing to note is that this Estate has always been on acreage with barns and a prominent Carriage Home. In 2008 the Pitman’s sold most of the acreage but did retain 5.5 acres and all the structures and the Mansion had the same land component. It was substantial. Now the property is being radically developed and for the first time the Mansion will no longer be on Acreage.
Let’s understand a little more about the History before we begin to discuss the changes coming to the site. Here is a link to the Cultural Resource Designation Resource Sheet from the City of HIllsboro. The home is one of the most significant historic sites in all of Washington County and certainly make the Top 5 list for homes ever built in Washington County for finishes, size, and quality of construction. Follow the link here:
“The residence was originally built for Archibald McGill, vice-president of the Oregon Nursery Company. It was the first house constructed in Orenco, built in 1907. McGill was born in London, Ontario, Canada, on January 17, 1865. His parents were natives of Scotland. Employed in several nurseries, McGill finally met Malcolm McDonald in Washington Sate. They formed a partnership and purchased the Oregon Nursery in Salem, Oregon. They operated the Salem facilities until 1909, when they purchased the property in Washington County and platted the Orenco townsite. The nursery grew to 1100 acres, and the growth in employment brought prosperity to the town. McGill left the firm in 1912 due to disagreements with McDonald. He settled in Fairview, Oregon, and continued in the nursery business. McGill was one of the founders of the Orenco Presbyterian Church, as well as being active in many other community activities. The current owner, Dr. Archibald Pitman, himself a descendant of a pioneer family (the Bowlbys), is a past mayor of Orenco as well as being very active in county medical and social affairs. President Malcolm McDonald’s house, and most of the Oregon Nursery Company buildings (now razed) were built in the Arts and Crafts style. This style is also reflected in the more restrained bungalow versions found throughout the town of Orenco. The Pitman/McGill residence is significant as an excellent example of a company based architectural style house. It was the dwelling of several owners with business, social and political influence on the town of Orenco.”
Architectural Description: The Pitman/McGill residence is a 1 ½ story Arts and Crafts style building, complex in massing. From one major hipped gable projects a series of hipped gables and gabled porches. It is supported by a stone foundation and a basement. The siding is wood shingle. The roof, a series of hipped gables, is clad with composition shingle. The eaves feature exposer rafters, purlins and knee braces. Three brick chimneys dominate the interior gables, a characteristic of the dormers with eight over one double hung sash windows. There are three major entries into the residence. The west has the formal stair entry with a shed porch supported by two robust piers clad with shingles. The south entry features a porte-cochere with a gabled porch supported by four boxed wood posts resting upon four shingled piers. The east entry is a shed roofed porte-cochere supported by two shingled posts. All porches have exposed rafters. The east elevation is composed of two projecting one story hipped gable wings. The recess between them is used as a screened porch. The wings feature eight over one and ten over the double hung sash windows. The south elevation has a 1 ½ story gable with a three sided cut out bay on the first floor. Each side is fenestrated by two six paned casements. The west elevation has groupings of three narrow, four over one double hung sash windows. One such grouping slightly projects, creating a square bay supported by corbelling. The overall appearance of the house is complex and massive. It is by far the most ornate residence in Orenco, retaining much of the original hard-ware and detailing on the interior and exterior. Contextual Description: The Pitman residence is located NE of Orenco, surrounded by woods and agricultural land. Four outbuildings are sited to the northeast. An old barn with a hipped roof (once a carriage house) retains the detailing of the residence, and has three hipped dormers. The guest house is a one story cottage clad with shiplap siding and cornerboards. It is fenestrated with eight paned casements. The porch has a small gabled stoop supported by two turned post columns. There are also two wooden sheds used for storage.”
The update is the the City of HIllsboro Planning Commission and the City Council have approved the development of 155 mid rise apartment units on the McGill-Pitman Historic Estate with the home being retained on a .73 Acre site. The historic home is being retained as well as the Historic Carriage home. The HIllsboro Landmarks advisory committee had some input on this project as well. In the end the home will be saved and will be lived in right away by one of the Pitman grand children who has a penchant for history and will maintain and enhance this magnificent home. While everyone on our side of the fence (the historic neighborhood side) would like the home to have had more buffer from the parking lot and driveways access for the apartments we recognize the difficulties in protecting History and not devaluing land in the name of it at all costs. Hopefully a balance will be found and all will be cohesive in the end.
Here are some site plans for what is happening at the McGill-Pitman Estate right now and you can see quite a bit of it from Cherry Street on the North side of the site. Because you can not see the home from their right now we wanted to show you the magnificent features that are still there and will be for many years to come. It truly is an amazing home and one with a rich and amazing history.
Here are Pictures of the McGill Home Now: We thank all involved with helping to save this home and bless it with 109 more years!
If you want to know more about the History of Orenco, Oregon stay in touch through our site or call Dirk anytime at 503-799-8383.
This site is sponsored by Dirk Knudsen and Kirra Krussman who are local community leaders and real estate experts. Call them anytime to discuss buying or selling a property in Orenco, Oregon.