Glenmorrie, The Manifest Charms of This Peerless Homesite
Parker Farnsworth Morey was a man of vision and action and he loved trees. In 1883, he and his partners founded the company that became Portland General Electric. The wealth Morey amassed through his inventions, many business endeavors, and his second marriage was used to make his dream of a country estate a reality.
In the late 1880s Morey and his second wife, Clara, found the perfect 600-acre site to build a home and garden paradise along the banks of the Willamette River. Morey’s head gardener was John Gower, an Englishman who had worked at London’s Kew Garden. Chinese laborers were among the crew that assisted Gower.
Hundreds of plant and tree specimens from around the world, collected to adorn the estate, were off-loaded by steamboat at Morey’s Landing. Paths, winding roads, greenhouses, tennis courts, a lake with an island, and stone bridges were constructed along with an 11-bedroom house with a massage room that Morey dubbed the “shack.” Electric lights illuminated this garden masterpiece as well as the home.
Of his several residences Morey chose to retire to this estate. In 1910, after P. F. Morey’s death, his eldest son, Fred, established the Glenmorrie Company to promote development of his father’s lands. The name “Glenmorrie” was most likely a marketing creation. A 1910 promotional brochure declares, “It seems almost a pity that this magnificent estate, developed at so great an expenditure of money and taste, should be broken up into building sites. But that is the inexorable law of a city’s expansion.” It continues, “Glenmorrie is now offered in tracts ranging from one to five acres to those whose desire is to get away from the city out into the clean, green country—out next to nature’s heart. Glenmorrie prices will range from $1,000 to $2,000 per acre.” For those residents who didn’t own an automobile, the Glenmorrie bus service was provided to meet trains pulling into the Oswego station. Fred Morey’s real estate speculation had limited success.
Much of the original grandeur of the Morey Ranch has been lost. P. F. Morey’s house burned to the ground in 1913. Fred and his wife, Josephine, constructed another dwelling on the same foundation. In 2000 it was removed from the City’s Landmark Designation List and subsequently demolished.
The “Glenmorrie Cooperative Association” was chartered in 1927. To this day well water managed by the association, and sometimes supplemented by the City, supplies the domestic and fire protection needs of the neighborhood.
The housing boom following World War II accelerated development of this area. Some of the original trees remaining from the P. F. and Clara Morey estate are a source of pride for the neighborhood.