Monday

The Hudspeth House


You drive up a long, new paved road through a neighborhood of 400+ lots.  There are beautiful sidewalks, all of the proper signs and markings, bright red fire hydrants are in place to assist the fire department should anything go wrong.  The only problem, there aren't any houses.


Where the paved road becomes a dirt road, you can follow it a bit further to a home that sits empty.  The strange looking home looks out of place for many reasons, but in a community like Prineville, Oregon, a mid century modern mansion is rare.  Past the chain link fence that is supposed to keep kids out, the long driveway takes you past a massive landscaped mound, and into the garage courtyard where one can imagine shiny Cadillacs parked.  You expect someone would have come to open your door for you and help you exit the car, where you could then proceed past the pool and into a swinging party.

The dirt covering the swimming pool, filled in for safety.  The cables above were used by Mrs. Hudspeth's dogs to keep them on the property.
Looking towards the kitchen from the front door.  Guests entered from the swimming pool patio.

Down the pathway and towards the entrance, the horseshoe shaped home surrounds a patch of weeds and dirt where a pool once stood complete with a diving board and water slide.  You enter the home through a large solid door and are greeted by a fountain, dried up and in disrepair possibly missing parts.  The long hallway is lit naturally by huge windows that can be pushed open to 'let the outside in'.

John Hudspeth was, at one time, one of the largest land owners in the United States.  His vast logging empire provided most of the lumber used to build homes in the housing market boom of the 1940s and 50s when soldiers were returning home.  At the center of his empire was Prineville, Oregon a community which was small enough to operate mills inexpensively, and close to utilities and part of the forest he would log.  John's wife spent her fair share of time in mills and the forest, but she longed for the glamor of Hollywood so when it came time to design and build the home they would have forever, they spared no expense.  In 1948, they had a Portland architecture firm draw plans for the massive 12,000 square foot home that they would live out their days in.

A huge kitchen, poorly remodeled sometime in the 70s.
The entire home's interior design was to be commissioned and was realized by a group of well known mid century designers.  Included, Paul Laszlo who had escaped Nazi occupied Europe where he had learned the trade, to move to the US and build a list of clients that would eventually include Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Barbara Hutton, and more.  The textiles to a large degree were done by Maria Kipp and Dorothy Liebes.  Literally the only difference between this home, and homes of the same era designed for famous movie stars, was location.  And with the pictures I have included here, you can see that high style translated.  The full commission of furniture represented the largest single collection of Paul Laszlo furniture to date.

I first vistied the home in 2008 and at that time it was empty, but it was used by the local Chamber of Commerce as a recreation building for some events.  I couldnt beleive it when I got there as I had no idea anything like that existed outside of Palm Springs.  I was lucky to know someone there who could take me on a tour of the house, and I knew I had to do something to preserve the memory of the home which it was apparent was soon to be lost.  The reason for that Chamber meeting that night was to introduce it's members to the president of the development company that would be installing a family centric California style subdivision that would eventually include 2500 homes.  You can just imagine my excitement!  When the question came up, "What is going to happen to this house?" The response was that it would be "re-purposed"(gutted), and turned into a recreation hall for the residents.

The next time you go on vacation with your family and you visit a historic site, specifically a residence, consider this;  At one time, that home was at risk of being torn down so that someone could make a quick dollar.  In most cases, the only reason historic homes still exist, is because some crazy person thought it should stay there and collect dust.  In this case, I seemed to be the only crazy person who cared!  I was sick to my stomach about it for weeks trying to figure out how a 23 year old with no money could possibly "save" the home.  I have to be honest, I couldnt figure out a way.  I contacted preservation societies, university professors, I even contacted living Hudspeth relatives, and relatives of Paul Laszlo.  Many people were interested, and offered information, but few could do anything to actually save the house.

 John Hudspeth, at the counsel of his wife, had made plans to turn Prineville into a High Desert oasis.  A sort of Palm Springs with all four seasons.  There were plans drawn for a shopping center in town, waterpark, hotels and resorts, none of which were ever started.





   While the furniture is now long gone, I made an effort at tracking down as much information as possible.  The home is now occupied by 'caretakers' who have taken it upon themselves to paint some of the items still in the home.  Its a sad situation, but I felt the least I could was provide information about the house here. The photos I have here come mostly from John Hudspeth Jr., and from LA Modern auction catalog.  I contacted John Jr. but I was never able to talk to him directly.

This is the home as it was.
The main dining room was a gathering place for the Hudspeth family.  Drapes, designed by Maria Kipp, open to the large bank of windows that look out to a view of the Cascade mountains. 
Looking into the living room. The lucite screen can be seen behind the bamboo columns.
In it's current condition. The lucite screen was sold at auction.
The featured a large game room that included beautiful pool table, a Laszlo designed card table, a suffleboard table, and full bar.  The story is that since Mr. Hudspeth did not drink, he had a soda fountain installed and the kids always had ice cream on hand, until they started to get a little heavy and he stopped keeping it stocked.


Empty now.  The Bubblegum ceiling is amazing. 
The F.F. Kern bird cage sculpture was used on the cover of the LA Modern Auctions catalog listing the contents of the home.
An Asian modern cabinet, expresses Paul Lazslo's less-than-conventional style.
This mural was still on the dining room wall when I was in the house in 2010.  I am spektical that it is still there.  While I am not sure who painted it, or when, I was told that it was done by Paul Laszlo.  I doubt that, but I suppose it's possible, and it is indeed interesting. 

Beautiful, and again interesting, fish shaped table and matching seating. 


MASSIVE boiler.  These came from a sawmill, and were fueled by a 12,000 gallon oil tank that is buried under the driveway. 

A very rare kitchen sink/dishwasher.  This thing appears to have never been used.  It was in a prep kitchen off the main kitchen.

  
Beautiful door to the walk in cooler

An original Paul Lazslo piece that I am told has been painted brown by the 'caretakers'.  The door in the middle originally housed a phone, one of the first private residence phones installed in Prineville.  On the right of the bed is a switch box where Mr. Hudspeth could control all of the lights in the house.  He could also see when his kids had the lights on in their bedrooms.

(Sorry for the poor quality of the photo). Mr. Hudspeth was a short man, only requiring a low shower head.  The red tile is plastic, and very beautiful.  Reminded me of The Shining.

A guest bathroom, gorgeous.

Felted wallpaper.....


I am not entirely sure how the house is doing these days.  After spending so much time on researching it, it makes me terribly sad and I get upset just writing about it.  It will most likely be destroyed, but if not I am hopeful that someone who appreciates can take it over.  I present this simply as an informational report on a great house, and the effect that the selfish housing market we experienced can take on things like this. If you would like to know more about the house, or if you have more information, please contact me at loren.film@gmail.com









11 comments:

Mick said...

WHAT A SHAME! Those "care takers" ought to be taken our and horse whipped for their "improvments".

undercover caterer said...

Wow, what a beautiful home. It's a shame that it's not being currently loved. Thanks for all the research and photos!

Anonymous said...

I just spent the weekend there and the painting in the dining room is still there, and the head board is still blue. if you have questions about things at the Hudspeth house you should ask and not just assume one person knows all.


The home is loved the owners wanted to buldoze it down the caretakers saved the house.

Loren Petersen said...

I clearly stated in my article that I was told that information, not that I knew it. Good to hear. I have asked to see the house again and I was denied, in fact a lot of the information that I dug up, was then misinterpreted and spread around town by "experts". It's unfortunate that the work I did to research the home was not taken seriously until someone with no actual knowledge decided to take over and claim it for their own. Hopefully the rest of the article was informative to you, and perhaps it cleared up some of the information you may have been told while you were at the house.

Steve said...

Nicely done Loren! You're bringing attention to a great house and hopefully this experience will serve as an example to others... Good/bad/testy
Thank you!

robin hood said...

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Anonymous said...

My family and I lived in this house for a short time. What a crazy place to live! The pool was still there which made for fun times for our teenagers. Our dog loved to chase a tennis ball down the long long hallway between the bedrooms and the kitchen. We set up our stereo system in the game room/living room so we could BLAST the sound . . . no neighbors to bother!

Not sure about your comment, "Mr. Hudspeth wasn't a drinker." Word in the community was that he was a heavy drinker. Mrs. Hudspeth didn't drink and loathed the fact that her husband and children (maybe not all) had drinking problems.

Anonymous said...

Is the play house still there? I went to grade school with Susan, she had a play house built like " The Old Lady that Lived in a Shoe".

Anonymous said...

My Dad told me he worked for Mr. Hudspeth when he was a teenager. He was from Oakridge; he went there to buck hay for the summer.

Anonymous said...

John Hudspeth was one of the most abominable men in the history of Oregon. He was a heavy drinker (contrary to the statement above). He left his family in ruins. He raped and pillaged both the community and his own family time and time again. As an immediate family member, the house today is just how it should be; empty and dilapidated (just has he left everyone and everything he had dealings with). Only material things mattered to that man, and as we all know, material things fade. What a legacy! He left it just like he meant to...

Loren Petersen said...

That is interesting information, thank you for sharing. The point of my post was to share the home and some of its history, not to explain the family goings on. That being said, I had heard from someone that claimed to have been a friend of the Hudspeths that he didn't drink. I have heard many conflicting stories about the family, but that is to be expected. Thanks again for reading my blog though, and for sharing.