It's builder Robert Rummer, now retired from residential home building for nearly two decades, who gets the credit for building these modern house designs, as well as nearly 750 other shockingly similar Eichler look-a-likes in the Portland area. Built between 1960 and the mid-'70s, and affectionately known as 'Rummers,' these stylish post-and-beam homes are spread all over Portland's West Hills and Beaverton, with small pockets in Lake Oswego, Gladstone, Newberg, Gresham, Clackamas, Orchard Hills, Royal Woodlands, and Sunnyside. Single Rummers can be found in Salem and Florence.
Laid out on four streets between Garden Home and Scholls Ferry roads, Vista Brook is Rummer's largest concentration of modern homes. Since no other styles of houses are mixed in, this is a community that resembles many Eichler subdivisions. What's more, Vista Brook is quickly becoming a community desired by those seeking mid-century modern homes—and at a fraction of the Bay Area's prices. Ten years ago one could buy a 2,000-square-foot Eichler-like, Jones & Emmons-style gable-roof design for $160,000. Today, the same house is priced near $250,000.
Richard and Nicole Clarke were seeking "something different" when they were house hunting last year. "We're not 'small room craftsman' people," says Nicole. Instead, she and husband Richard settled on something else with a difference, when they recently purchased a Rummer.
A shoe designer at Nike, Richard initially wanted to live in a downtown loft. Since lofts are rare in Portland, Richard quickly changed his mind when he discovered a vacant Rummer gable-roof model with walls of glass, radiant-floor heat, and an atrium.
"We really wanted the house, but there was already an offer on it," explained Richard. "Later we found out the offer was dropped because of a mold problem." Not to be discouraged, Richard and Nicole, with the help of local realtor Jim DeMarco, found another Rummer, which soon became their new home, in Vista Brook. Set on a nicely landscaped terrace, this Rummer is nearly identical to the Claude Oakland-designed MC-554 model that Eichler originally built. Their back wall of windows faces the west and makes sunsets a colorful experience. "Sometimes the whole living room turns orange when the sun sets," added Richard. "We really like the natural light and openness."
About five miles to the southwest lies the Taliesen subdivision in the heart of Beaverton. Spread across three square cul-de-sacs that intersect S.W. 130th Avenue, 30 Rummers share space with as many ranch and split-level traditional homes. The entire subdivision is flanked to the west by the mature Douglas firs of Taliesen Park, which was donated by Rummer during development in 1966.
Taliesen is home to another creative couple hard at work breathing life into their newly acquired Rummer. Martin Lotti and Linda Mai-Lotti knew what they wanted when it came time to buy a house. Martin, a creative director for women's shoes at Nike, and Linda, an architect-designer for Nike, followed the lead of their friend and co-worker Richard Clarke and snapped-up an atrium model previously owned by a Sherwin-Williams paint tester. "Every wall was a different-color," joked Linda. "But we wanted a modern designed home which we could afford."
Their home resembling Oakland's MC-674 Eichler with the multi-pitch roof, two-car garage, and atrium, Martin and Linda have worked hard to make their modern space minimalist, yet elegant. New sheet-rock walls blanketed with crisp white paint, light gray polished concrete floors, and tan berber carpet in the sleeping areas are blended with a mix of mid-century modern and contemporary furniture. The lightly stained Douglas fir tongue-and-groove ceiling adds warmth. One leftover original feature is a step-down tile Roman shower. Even with a long list of projects, Martin and Linda are excited about living in a Rummer. "It feels spacious and open, yet it is private," says Martin. "Its understated architecture and pure lines makes it feel relaxing to live in."
Another similar-sized, mostly Rummer subdivision is two miles northwest-in Menlo Park, located on S.W. Bonnie Brae Street and Bonnie Brae Court. Just two blocks to the north is Eichler Park, a city park with a familiar name. There must be something in the water at Nike, because that's were we find Jeff Day and Heather Amuny-Dey, who are also creatives at the footwear giant. They too were drawn to ideals of modern living when the Clarkes and Lottis found their Rummers. Jeff and Heather have been busy restoring their Rummer gable-roof model close to its original splendor, both inside and out.