Keeping Portland weird, home-style
Not everybody wants to live in a house that looks like everybody else's in the neighborhood, and the Portland Weird Homes Tour features the people and structures that stand out from the others.
Rebecca and Alex Hagmuller own the Dome Home in West Linn — a home with nine domes, including an "amphitheater" main space, designed by Dutch artist Francisco Reynders — and yeah, it draws attention.
"We quickly learned not to take garbage out in pajamas as people may be outside taking pictures. That happened in our first week of moving in," Rebecca Hagmuller said.
"We love owning such a unique house and are committed to continuing the legacy. The domes are a lot of work and require unique repair and construction methods that we are doing all ourselves. The main dome is a kind of amphitheater and we've enjoyed hosting live music. We hope we're making Francisco proud!"
The Dome Home and seven others are part of the third annual Portland Weird Homes Tour, which has gone virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It'll be online all day Saturday, Sept. 26, at www.weirdhomestour.com/portland (and available to view for two weeks). Tickets are $25, and a portion of sales goes directly to Central City Concern and its fight for affordable housing.
Visitors will get a tour of each home and be able to meet homeowners and ask them questions.
For Robert Fortney, a common question has been, "What are you thinking?" Fortney has adorned the exterior of his home with sci-fi characters, including "Star Wars" stormtroopers," some of them fit with lights and sounds. It's called the Plastorm Home.
What Fortney was thinking was that he wanted to curb any malfeasance by intruders in the alley behind his home. It has expanded and continues to expand for the mixed media artist.
Fortney looks forward to the home tour and plans to be in full Plastorm regalia — playing a robot. He routinely participates in Portland Open Studios to show off his home and sci-fi theme.
"I have the mentality and behavior pattern of a golden retriever. I get excited and spin in circles," he joked. "At the end, like at Open Studio, I collapse from being exhausted."
Many people know that a St. Helens home was one of the locations for the first "Twilight" movie. Amber and Dean Neufeld have owned the quaint home for two years. The Twilight Swan Home is now run as a five-bedroom Airbnb.
"When we moved to Oregon, I was excited, because I knew the movie was filmed here," said Amber Neufeld, who's a big "Twilight" fan.
The other five places featured on the Portland Weird Homes Tour:
• House of Sarcasm — Artist Christine Claringbold and husband Charles have filled their home with a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and patterns. It's located in Southeast Portland's Mount Scott-Arleta neighborhood.
• House of Serendipity — Larry Cross used Universal Design principles to create a beautiful and accessible home in Southeast Portland.
• Old Grange Hall — It's a home in Clatskanie, owned by Shannon Buchanan, with a one-of-a-kind collection of vintage and thrift store items, including mannequins, unicorns, skeletons, mirrors and wall coverings.
• Portland Puppet Museum — The Sellwood establishment was created by Steven Overton and includes more than 2,000 puppets that provide an "illusion of life."
• Slabtown Village — The Northwest Portland compound features two small Victorian houses and three modern tiny homes on wheels, created by Grant Norling and John Jendritza. Old homes from 1875 have been altered, and the compound marries the past and present.
The Hagmullers have enjoyed living in the Dome Home, even trying to find the "secrets" that Reynders apparently hid in the home — painted satyrs, passageways and other surprises.
"(Reynders) added many personal, colorful touches to the design of the nine domes," Rebecca Hagmuller said.
They took part in the 2019 Weird Homes Tour. "We were surprised how interested people were about the domes and the large turnout. … People were lined up before it started."
Fortney said the Plastorm has been an extension of his work as an artist.
"I'm not religious or spiritual or mystical, but painting and art are the most mystical and spiritual things I've ever encountered," he said.
He'll continue to expand the works. One creation, Max, hovers over the yard on a series of pulleys. Much of the works are powered by solar energy with relay boards.
The "Twilight" movie is set in Forks, Washington, although it was filmed in St. Helens — later movies were filmed in Canada. The Neufelds want to provide tours, but local rules allow them to use only 25% of the place for visitors, and they're restricted to six visitors per day. Airbnb clients get to see the whole thing.
"The house in the book is supposed to be a small house, two bed, one bath," Dean Neufeld said. The house has five bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths and is 2,000 square feet.
"We didn't expect to buy the house. We made an offer, but didn't expect to be in the running," he added. They bought it for "mid-$300,000."
The Portland Weird Homes Tour has proven to be popular. The Weird Homes Tour started in Austin, Texas, and then went to Houston before being expanded to other cities.
Said David Neff, Weird Homes Tour founder: "If, like most of us, you are sick of staring at your walls, spend the day with us and stare at some of the most remarkable and creatives walls in homes owned by the collectors, artists, painters, architects, garden lovers and more who keep Portland weird."
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