Our House

Diane Freaney bought the property from a goat farmer in Gales Creek. The farmer needed to cash to build a barn for the goats.  As the project evolved, Diane learned about the gentrification of NE Portland and wanted to do something about it.  This was around the time that Diane developed rooted investing where she took her retirement funds off of Wall Street and invested in Main Street. So, Diane continued her studies of the community, started to develop a sense of what was going on, and decided to buy a house to make her home. Thus, the Emerson Street house was born.

Diane tried to save the original house, but it wasn’t properly permitted, noncomplying in so many ways. She tried to work with the frame of the house, but… as the layers peeled away the layers, it was impractical. So she started from the beginning, a new building with a new approach.

Diane studied other examples of high performing, sustainable housing. She learned of passive housing (which, in theory, produces more energy than it consumes). She was particularly inspired by Jeff Stern’s house in the Cully neighborhood. Jeff did the computer calculations for Diane’s house, helped with the layout orientation of the house.

The Emerson Street House was built in the spirit of Jane Jacobs – The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961).   Christopher Alexander – A Pattern Language (1977) – inspired the multi-generational, aging in place design, sharing spaces and alternatives uses of space during different seasons of the owner’s life.

Diane is an early adopter, likes to try new things. And sometimes, new things don’t work as advertised. She continues to redesign and reconstruct the aspects of the construction that didn’t meet expectations. For example, she found her kitchen, as originally constructed, was inappropriate and excessive for her needs, so she simplified and streamlined. A smaller refrigerator. Removed the oven and cooktop. And the simplification has made her life easier.

Diane originally planned for her daughter Allison and Grandson Duncan to live in UNIT A. Allison is a writer and, in Diane’s mind, Portland is perfect for a writer.  Allison prefers Los Angeles to Portland.