AKA: Yeon, John, House, Portland, OR; University of Oregon, Yeon, John, Center for Architectural Studies, Portland, OR

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Doyle, A.E., and Associate, Architects (firm); Yeon, John, Architect (firm); Pietro Belluschi (architect); John Yeon (architect)

Dates: constructed 1937-1937

2 stories, total floor area: 13,000 sq. ft.

Portland, OR

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In 1935, Aubrey R. Watzek, eldest son of Dr. John W. Watzek who contributed to the foundation of the Crosset Western Lumber Company, sought to erect a residence for his mother and himself. He knew the young architect, John Yeon, and engaged him to provide a design. Watzek and his mother balked at Yeon's modern proposal. Noting this hesitance, Yeon recommended that he commission a design from Pietro Belluschi, then the head of the venerable A.E. Doyle and Associate, firm, the leading architects then working in Portland, OR. (Yeon worked with the Doyle firm early in his career.) This, too, did not entirely satisfy Watzek, so he returned to Yeon and worked on refining the first design throughout 1936. Construction began in early 1937 and was completed and occupied by the end of the same year. Yeon worked with a skilled building contractor, Burton Smith, on the 2-story, U-shaped dwelling. Watzek died in 1973, and Yeon purchased the house from his estate and resided here until he died in 1994. The University of Oregon, Eugene, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, received the house as a gift in 10/1995; it was renamed "The Shire: The John Yeon Preserve for Landscape Studies and The Watzek House: The John Yeon Center for Architectural Studies."

The Watzek House was originally sited for a sloping 3.62-acre site in the hills southwest of Portland, OR. The house is arrayed on two floors around a central courtyard, a plan similar to well-publicized California ranch houses of the period. The south wing of the U-shaped plan accommodated the two bedrooms of Watzek and his mother. A sleeping porch was located off one bedroom on the house's southwest corner. A large living room and library joined the two wings of the U. The north wing contained a dining room (with a guest bedroom/bath located off of it), pantry, kitchen, and two servants' bedrooms. All bedrooms had attached baths save for the servants' rooms. Yeon landscaped the property with native plants, seeking to integrate the house with its site. He directed that the house's fir siding be allowed to age naturally, although Watzek later painted it. In his later years, Yeon allowed the siding to weather as he originally envisaged. The architect maximized views from interior and exterior living areas of Mount Saint Helens to the north, Mount Hood to the east and the Tualatin Valley to the south. Construction drawings for the Watzek House are housed in the Syracuse University Library, Department of Special Collections, "Pietro Belluschi Papers," Collection #589.

PCAD id: 10872