Friday, February 15, 2013

Ida McCain

So, besides being sick for the last several days, I've been obsessed with trying to figure out Ida McCain's story. (As a reminder, for those just now dropping by—she was the female architect who designed our home in 1911.) I broke down and re-subscribed to for six months, primarily because I have so many people from Laurelhurst I want to research. (I'm getting quite the collection of family trees of people who aren't related to me.)

In my research, I discovered through old directories and census records that Ida McCain was the architect of the firm Spencer-McCain, and she was only 25 or so when she was here in Portland.

Arthur, her brother, worked as a meat cutter before arriving in Oregon, and then described himself as a contractor for the 1910 census. Their business partner, Charles Spencer, was a bricklayer and reported contractor on the 1910 census. He was also married to Eda McCain, Ida and Arthur's sister. (Their mother Hannah King was also here with them.)

Besides our house, I've found 10 houses they completed here in Portland (that haven't been torn down). In March 1912, this sentence was published in The Oregonian, ". . . the Spencer-McCain Company will build on seven lots [in Laurelhurst] this summer."

I've identified maybe four of these houses, so there might be three more. Or maybe they just abandoned their plans for seven houses to return to California. Or maybe they didn't plan to build that many homes but said they were because they were trying to create interest; I'm trying to figure it out. So, I am irrationally going through lot-by-lot making an "inventory" of all the houses in Laurelhurst including the builders, when I can find the information at (What an amazing resource we have!) This will also help to match up old photos when they only identify the owner (or builder) name.

Anyway, I can usually get through 100 to 150 a day during my goof off in front of TV time, so at this rate it will take me something like a month or two to make the full list. But, if Spencer-McCain built more houses in Laurelhurst, I am determined to find them. =)

Oh, and since I'm taking over the Laurelhurst newsletter this spring, I should have some good material for history-based articles. At least I hope so.
This is a concept drawing for a house they were planning to build for Hannah King, their mother, in Alameda Park. Though, I think they actually built it (or its twin) in Laurelhurst on Senate Street.


  1. fascinating stuff - i hope you will keep posting updates! : )

  2. Hello, I live in Colorado and post memorials on a website called In the Virginiadale Community Church Cemetery is where Ida's father was buried; after he died Hannah her mother married George Kinbg. The family moved to San Francisco, California. One thing I found was her mother's Funeral Record of her cremation and lists one of her daughters as Mrs. Ida F. McCain. Her middle name was Florence according to the family bible, but unless she married a man with the same last name, I wonder if the "Mrs." was a mistake made by the funeral home? If you want more information on her brothers and sisters, just let me know and I will be happy to send you the information I have.

    1. Hi Susan, I would really appreciate seeing your info on Ida's family. I'm trying to figure out when and where she died and where her mother was buried. How can I contact you? Thank you. Lisa