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by: Rita A. Leonard, The historic Johan Poulsen House in Brooklyn benefits from a new paint job and restoration work, under the direction of current owners Steve and Paula Frisbie.

The striking Poulsen House at 3040 SE McLoughlin Blvd, sometimes referred to as 'the castle at the east end of the Ross Island Bridge', is being repainted, and is undergoing some much needed repairs.


Owners Steve and Paula Frisbie are doing a major facelift to return the historic residence to its stately origins.

Built by early Brooklyn lumberman Johan Poulsen in 1892, the home is a seven-bedroom Queen Anne Victorian, with a prominent round tower and extensive gingerbread décor.

The home was a showcase for the output of the Poulsen Lumber Mill, which was located in the early 1900's near the junction of S.E. Woodward Street and the Willamette River. At the time, his was the largest sawmill in the area

Poulsen's partner, Charles Inman, once had an identical residence just north of what is now Powell Boulevard. However, that home was torn down to facilitate access to the Ross Island Bridge (built in 1924), and to McLoughlin Boulevard (completed in 1932). These transportation links effectively cut off access to the Poulsen House garage, and eliminated what used to be a lovely sloping lawn that acted like a pedestal to the mansion.

The Frisbies have owned the home for six years, and recently decided it was time for some restoration.

'We've got some fairly major repairs on the front, back, and side porches,' reports Steve. 'We researched several Victorian house books and other material on Portland architecture. We wanted to brighten up the home while maintaining its vintage look. We're not making any huge changes in the original color palette, but we are adding a few complementary colors to help bring out the fine line contrast details.

'To that end, we commissioned a local artist, Steven Musco, to coordinate color changes and schemes.'

Frisbie owns Steve's Auto Restoration, a business that does award-winning custom car painting for clients across the country. David Brost, a Graphic Design graduate from OSU, is a designer and color coordinator for the company. Brost has a keen interest in automotive design as well as Portland architectural history, frequently researching in the Oregon Historical Society library. He was excited to help the couple with their project.

'We wanted to wake up the original house colors but not make it gaudy,' Steve continues. 'The main colors will be 'beeswax' (a yellow-orange) with off-white 'tea light' trim. Two muted blues and dark brown fine line detailing will lead viewers' eyes across the classic architectural details, while hints of gold will highlight finials and rosettes.'

Restoration on the home began in June, with some initial painting followed by several weeks of structural repairs. Painting will continue through the rest of the summer.

'Eventually we hope to restore more of the interior,' says Steve. 'It's obvious that Poulsen loved wood. The woodwork inside is very ornate, with narrow slat wood and parquet floors. The banisters and fireplaces display a lot of intricate hand carving.'

Another unique aspect of the Poulsen House is the huge Camperdown elm tree growing on the northwest corner of the lawn. 'It's at least 100 years old; it's a Heritage tree, the largest and oldest of its kind in the state,' says Steve. 'It's a product of Dutch and American elm grafts, and can't reproduce on its own. When we bought the house, we had to sign an agreement to care for the tree. We spray it regularly, and have injection treatments done on the soil surrounding the trunk.'

For well over a century, the historic Poulsen House has served as an elegant gateway to the Brooklyn neighborhood. Restoration and maintenance of the house and grounds will ensure that visitors enjoy the site for years to come.

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