Blog Family Mid-Century Modern Time Capsule

Mid-Century Modern Time Capsule

By Janelle Freeman, May 30, 2023

Have you ever wondered, what is the history of this house? Who designed it, why were some choices made, or who once lived here? I discovered just that with this mid-century modern time capsule in St. Johns, Oregon.

I LOVE history and especially love the hunt for house history. When searching for homes with my clients, I do my research to see what fun tib-bits I can find on the ones they love. While lounging on the couch, I’m a house sleuth online discovering what I can about the history of some of Portland’s finest houses. Sometimes there are some nuggets to be found, but most often a history can be lost if the records we’re not kept by previous owners, or the story of the house wasn’t passed down owner to owner.

I had the incredible opportunity to discover details about this mid-century modern time capsule in North Portland recently, as it was once upon a time in my family. Seeing pictures online from a friend in the industry that went to the estate sale recently, I knew I recognized that carpeted firepit. I sent the picture to my cousin to confirm and yes, this was the house! Putting an alert on the address, I knew it would most likely pop onto the market soon, and once it did, in the door we went.  Turns out, my cousins Grandma Bunnie helped design this beauty back in 1956. There isn’t another like it out there. Over the weekend, we met at the house to explore, reminisce, and tell stories. As houses have so many of them.

This Mid-Century Modern home saw a family grow through almost four generations. Bunnie designed this to fit all of the needs of a large 1950’s family. There are built-ins with drawers and cupboards in nearly every room and hallway, easier to keep the house clean and organized. A once covered outdoor patio was remodeled early on to become an indoor space with the fire pit still intact. Then they added the spiral staircase to get downstairs to the pool/bar room, three other bedrooms, and an incredibly large workshop. There are electrical plugs everywhere, even on the ceiling in some rooms. No need for extension cords! There are two wet bars, one upstairs, one down. With over 5,000 square feet, this two-level mid-century modern home has it all, and has hardly been changed since it was built. There is still the old shag carpet, wallpaper, all the knobs, (there were hundreds, and they’re all the same!). I learned why there are two separate mailboxes, due to Little Bit, the poodle, that would eat the mail if it came through the slot. Why there is a custom switch alarm to lock the house up from the primary bedroom. How the intercom throughout the house was used. So many memories and stories with this one. A true time capsule.

I have a few memories coming here as a young child, playing with my cousins running up and down the spiral staircase, even though we weren’t supposed to, to even finding a hidden box of 1950’s Playboys in the basement! This house had it all. And well, it still does.

Want to know the history of a house? I love being a house sleuth and discovering the why’s, who’s and all the in-between. Every house has a story to tell, and this mid-century modern home sure struck close to home.


To see more videos of this MCM and many others, go to @janelleisrealestate on Instagram or TikTok.

Janelle Freeman, Realtor (@janelleisrealestate) | Instagram

Over 5,000 square feet in here!
Once outdoor, now indoor firepit.
The secret alarm switches hidden in the Primary bedroom closet.
The lower level bar/pool room.
One of many build-ins.
All original fabulous pink bathroom.
The Spiral Staircase.

Janelle Freeman

Broker | Oregon


Having family roots that go back to the 1860’s in Portland, Janelle has a deep appreciation and love for the Rose City and the Pacific Northwest. Beginning with a small grocery store in St. Johns in the early 1900’s, her family began planting roots of homeownership and business acumen for the generations to follow. It’s no wonder Janelle has a passion for houses, community, and people while continuing to build her business. The journey that brought her into the realm of real estate went down paths of tending gardens, managing teams in the luxury fashion world, and studying horticulture at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA where she met her beau of now 20 years. All her life experiences have helped hone the skills it takes to do real estate right: Care, attention, detail, and patience are key elements in this industry. A passion for architecture, knowledge of the city and surrounding areas, while keeping a keen eye on market trends are another. Like her ancestors, she’s building her business with the community in mind, and homeownership being her favorite passion. When not sleuthing for homes, or negotiating on behalf of her clients, you can find her in the woods in and around the city, at a pub or café within walking distance from her home or nestled inside eating her hubby’s incredible cooking and snuggling their two cats.
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