Who We Are
Stewardship of the Overlook House is provided by the
volunteers of Friends of the Overlook House through a special
agreement with the City of Portlands Office of Neighborhood Involvement
/ North Portland Neighborhood Services and Parks
and Recreation. All Rental funds are used to maintain and
restore this wonderful home and grounds.
The Friends of the Overlook House protects, promotes, and
administers the historical Overlook House as a community center
for the benefit of the neighborhood. The Friends sponsor cultural,
educational, and social activities and provide space to honor
History Of the Overlook
The Overlook House was built in 1928 by Herman Case
and Elvira S. Raven. The land was purchased from the Overlook Land
Company with the stipulation that no building be constructed "nearer
to the front line of any street than 20 feet nor erect any building
on said premises the first cost of which shall be less than $2,000."
The home consists of two full floors, attached garage
(now a multipurpose room), and basement. The main floor consists
of 1468 square feet (now 2000 square feet) with a living room, sunroom,
office, dining area, and kitchen. The basement and upper floor have
the same square footage and the garage has 462 square feet of space.
All the woodwork and trim is in the original finish. The only structural
change was the removal of a wall between two bedrooms upstairs.
This was done to create a large classroom area.
The Raven's and their
The Raven's were the owners of the Raven Creamery,
which was originally located downtown around Southwest 4th and
Yamhill Streets. Their milk, cream, and butter were a staple in
many Portland homes of the period. The Ravens were civic minded
and encouraged the use of their home by neighborhood groups, most
notably the Overlook Womens Club, a charitable group. When Mr.
Raven passed away, Mrs. Raven sold the house to the City of Portland
for the sum of $1.00. This was for tax purposes and took place
on January 2, 1951. The City designated the building a community
center and placed it under Portland Parks and Recreation.
Mrs. Raven was an avid gardener and the grounds
were extensively cultivated while she was in residence. A large
greenhouse and fishpond that were located in the backyard were
removed in (the late 1950s --- 1970?) due to excessive vandalism.
The greenhouse was attached to the garage and can be seen in the
picture to the left along with H.C. and Elvira Ravens nephew
Harold Scritsmier, his wife Patricia and their twin daughters
Jean and Jane in their Easter best.
Childrens Parade Participants on Overlook Boulevard
This yearly event was sponsored by the Overlook Womens
Club with approximately 75 to 125 children participating each
year. Children dressed in their Sunday best, decorated their wagons
and brought their favorite toys for everyone to see. Mrs. Raven
often served cake and ice cream to the
children at their home following the event.
The Christian Nathan Scritsmier Family
Florence Elvira Scritsmier Raven and her family (Circa
1900) in the family home located at 3786 N Melrose Drive. Elvira,
as she was known to her family and friends, is in the bottom row
at the far right. Her parents, Christian Nathan Scritsmier and Bertha
Spies Scritsmier are in the center of the middle row. Elvira was
born in Auburn, Wisconsin on February 1, 1880, married Herman Case
Raven on February 1, 1908, and passed on January 28, 1969.
A Building , A Vision,
Elvira Raven understood the power and promise of volunteer
neighborhood action. She understood that neighborhoods become special
places when neighbors know each other and find common ground working
together. In 1951, after years of opening her house to a multitude
of neighborhood oriented groups and events, Elvira Raven donated
her special home and its beautiful grounds to the City of Portland
to provide a community center to her beloved neighborhood "Overlook."
In the ensuing 50 plus years, Overlook House, as it became known,
has been used, loved, and appreciated in many ways by Overlook neighbors
and citizens throughout Portland. It has served in turn and simultaneously
as a neighborhood child care center, community classroom site, voter
precinct site, regular meeting place for the Overlook Neighborhood
Association and other community related groups, community retreat
site, as well as a prized location for affordable weddings, bar
mitzvahs, and other important family celebrations. Much of this
activity has been made possible by neighborhood volunteerism.
In April 2003, Overlook neighbors were stunned by the announcement
that due to municipal budgetary reductions Overlook House was to
be closed and possibly sold. Not only was Overlook to lose their
community center but also the legacy of Elvira Raven to her beloved
neighborhood. Overlook neighborhood volunteer activism sprang to
life. A group of concerned Overlook neighbors led by 70 year Overlook
resident Norm Lindstedt and others came together. After hearing
a thoughtful presentation by a Portland Parks representative regarding
the fiscal situation related to Overlook House was not acceptable
to Overlook neighbors.
Initially it was hoped that Portland Parks could be convinced to
continue their competent stewardship of this community asset. However,
it soon became apparent that the only possible solution for saving
Overlook House as a community center was for the neighborhood itself
to shoulder the task. A subcommittee of the Overlook Neighborhood
Association, now known as Friends of Overlook House, gathered form
and began to negotiate with City officials to find a way to keep
Overlook House open to reinvigorate Elvira Ravens original
vision of her home as a magnet for community building. The interest
and outpouring of time, energy, and creativity for this endeavor
by a number of Overlook neighbors has been almost overwhelming.
The Friends of Overlook Committee now has a total of 10 functioning
subcommittees focusing on various aspects of maintaining Overlook
House and reinvigorating aspects it as a vital community center.
The Office of Neighborhood Involvement is a key partner in this
community endeavor. Tom Griffin Valade and Ronna Seavey are partnering
with Friends of Overlook to support the operation of Overlook House
as a community center. The Friends of Overlook is particularly grateful
for their city-sponsored support.
The Friends of Overlook steering committee, which is an open forum
for all interested volunteers, meets the last Tuesday of each month
at 7:00 P.M. at Overlook House. We extend a cordial invitation to
all neighbors to become a part of Elvira Ravens community