Ermatinger House, Oregon City


Ermatinger House historic photo

 Asa Lovejoy

Asa Lovejoy

Ermatinger House interior

Francis Pettygrove

Francis Pettygrove

Ermatinger House being moved

Ermatinger House, Oregon City


  • Built: c.1845
  • Architect: Unknown
  • Designation: National Register of Historic Places
  • Significance: One of oldest houses in the state, unique federal style, Coin toss house
  • Current Status: SAVED! Foundation and building were stabilized in Fall of 2014. The house is now open to the public for tours and special programs.

News and Updates

Summer 2014:

Restoration and stabilization work underway

Spring 2013:

The City of Oregon City is seeking the final grants needed to begin rehabilitation.

June 2012:

Draft architectural drawings and project pricing completed.

February 2, 2011:

Architect hired to prepare rehabilitation plans for building

November 28, 2011:

$25,000 in grants awarded by National Trust for Historic Preservation and State Historic Preservation Office.

November 21, 2011:

RFP issued for Architectural Plans and Engineering Specifications for the Rehabilitation of the House

November 5, 2011:

Considerable funding still needed to begin sensitive rehabilitation of structure. Restore Oregon assisting City of Oregon City with grant applications.


When it comes to Oregon history, it doesn’t get much more significant than the Ermatinger House.

In 1845, Francis Ermatinger built for himself a federal style residence in what is now downtown Oregon City. Ermatinger was a powerful and influential figure in early Oregon history, serving as a chief trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and holding public office in the Oregon Provisional Government in 1845.

Although located in Oregon City, the Ermatinger House holds a special place in Portlander’s hearts. It was in the left parlor that the famous coin toss occurred between Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy during a dinner party held in 1845. The two were arguing about whether the town to be built on their land claim (then called The Clearing) should be incorporated as “Boston” or “Portland.” Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, resulting in the city of Portland, Oregon.

The house was moved in 1910 and again in 1989 to its current location. It is owned by the City and has been used as a house museum for over two decades. In the 1980s, preservationist Ruth McBride Powers helped finance a restoration of the house, but since then the whole building has shifted. It is currently off limits to the public. The windows, which were recently repaired, have not been reinstalled for fear that the continued shifting of the house might affect the windows or even bring down the entire house. The City of Oregon City wants our help. This house deserves broad support—and maybe even a coin or two.

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  1. A Stable Foundation for the Francis Ermatinger House | Restore Oregon - July 29, 2014

    […] Portland and Asa Lovejoy preferred to name it after Boston.  They met in the front parlor of the Francis Ermatinger House in 1845 and tossed a […]

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