The Historic Overlook House .
Overlook House

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 Portland’s 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.

Our Mission:
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 life’s milestones.

History Of the Overlook House

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."

Rear View

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 House

Mr. H.C. Raven

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 Women’s 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 1950’s --- 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 Raven’s nephew Harold Scritsmier, his wife Patricia and their twin daughters Jean and Jane in their Easter best.


Children’s Parade Participants on Overlook Boulevard ­ June 1912

Children’s Parade 1912

This yearly event was sponsored by the Overlook Women’s 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

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, A Community


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 Raven’s 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 Raven’s community inspiring legacy.



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