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Corbett’s gift helps College buy her former home

June 12, 2000

In a providential turn of fate, Lewis & Clark College used a $4.3-million gift from Harriet Corbett’s estate to help purchase her former home.

The College received the gift while it was working with the Sisters of St. Francis to buy the Franciscan Renewal Center—once the Corbett estate.

Harriet’s parents, Harriet and Hamilton F. Corbett, bought the property in 1927 and sold it to the Sisters of St. Francis for Our Lady of Angels Convent in 1942. That was the same year Lewis & Clark College acquired its present campus—the Lloyd Frank estate.

Architect Pietro Belluschi designed the 40-room Corbett home his first solo commission—and then went on to become an internationally acclaimed architect. The house is a combination of two architectural styles: French château and Georgian. To give the home a weathered look, the architect used bricks from the Blitz-Weinhard brewery, built in the 1890s and demolished in the 1920s.

Frederick Olmsted, Jr., was the landscape architect, but his design was never fully realized. His father, Frederick Olmsted, Sr., designed New York’s Central Park. Lewis & Clark intends to complete the original landscaping plans and to make the historic gardens accessible to the public, much as the College campus is today.

In yet another historic coincidence, the Corbett family, considered one of Portland’s founding families, also played a major role in the early history of Lewis & Clark College.

“Harriet’s great-grandfather, U.S. Senator Henry Winslow Corbett, was a trustee and one of the largest donors to Albany Collegiate Institute, the forerunner of Lewis & Clark College. His generosity saved the fledgling College from foreclosure in its early years,” Mooney explains. “Without his leadership, the College might not have survived.”

Sen. Corbett arrived in Portland in 1851. He developed the largest hardware business in the Northwest and became president of First National Bank. In his final years, he was elected president of the Lewis and Clark Exposition and launched a remarkable centennial observance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

“Just as Lewis & Clark College restored the historic Frank Manor House and is working to return the campus to its natural beauty, so, too, will the College work to honor the Corbetts’ wish to preserve the historic character of their home,” Mooney says.

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