Kerns

2234-2240 NE Everett

Building Data:  Neighborhood: Kerns Year Built: 1924 Typology: Duplex / Twin House Units: 2 Stories: 1.5 Site Area: 3,184sf   Building Area: 2,268sf FAR: 0.7:1 Density: 27.3du/net acre Zoning: R2.5 Is it Legal? No

Building Data:
Neighborhood: Kerns
Year Built: 1924
Typology: Duplex / Twin House
Units: 2
Stories: 1.5
Site Area: 3,184sf  
Building Area: 2,268sf
FAR: 0.7:1
Density: 27.3du/net acre
Zoning: R2.5
Is it Legal? No

This house in the Kerns neighborhood represents a typology that’s relatively unique to Portland. We’re calling it the Twin House. This is a species of duplex, with a form resembling a contemporaneous style of single-family house. In this case, it’s a bungalow. It is basically two small bungalows, mirrored down the middle for bilateral symmetry. The more common stacked duplex is a fixture of cities across the country and was very popular in the first decades of the 20th century.

Typical stacked duplex, Kerns Neighborhood

Typical stacked duplex, Kerns Neighborhood

Twin houses like this offer most of the benefits of single family homes: semi private yards, generous open space, lots of access to air and light via three window walls. They also have an interior parti that is basically that of a single family house with many examples, such as this one, having stairs leading to bedrooms upstairs, and a private basement for laundry and storage.

2233-40 NE Everett site plan.

2233-40 NE Everett site plan.

This example is not a legal use on its site. It’s zoned R2.5, meaning 2500sf of lot area minimum is required per unit. This twin house is built on a smaller than standard lot (3,184sf), so it is a non-conforming use.  If it were on a standard 50x100 lot it would be legal.

Historic twin houses are typically rental duplexes, as opposed to what we call a row house, with fee simple or condo ownership, though this can and does occur on occasion.

We will xplore more examples of the Twin House in the near future.

 

 

303 NE 22nd

303 NE 22nd 1.jpg
Building Data:  Neighborhood: Kerns Year Built: 1926 Typology: Plex / Bungalow court format Units: 4 Stories: 1 Site Area: 5,000sf Building Area: 2,520sf FAR: 0.5:1 Density: 35du/net acre                                 Zoning: R1 Is it Legal? YES

Building Data:
Neighborhood: Kerns
Year Built: 1926
Typology: Plex / Bungalow court format
Units: 4
Stories: 1
Site Area: 5,000sf
Building Area: 2,520sf
FAR: 0.5:1
Density: 35du/net acre                                 Zoning: R1
Is it Legal? YES

This is a style of apartment that was very popular in the 1920s, and it’s easy to find examples in Portland’s inner neighborhoods. We call this type of multifamily building a bungalow type apartment. It’s a close relative of the bungalow court, which we’ve profiled in other posts. These buildings give residents many of the most attractive features of single family homes – a front door facing the street, a back door, at least two window walls (three for end units), and in some instances, even a private basement. 

303 NE 22nd site plan.

303 NE 22nd site plan.

These really only work on corner lots, since their orientation places the doors along the long side of the building. Of course, you could do this on a mid block site, it would just be a lot less appealing. Additionally, the 150 lineal feet of curb allows room for about six cars to park (this particular case study building actually has a single car garage!). Bungalow four-plexes like this are often highlighted as exemplars of missing middle, but it’s worth asking whether or not this typology is something today’s builders would create, given the choice. We’ve found precisely one modern example of this type. Far more prevalent are three story townhouses with garages occupying most of the ground floor.