In 1954 Strell Development Company Inc, formed by Robert K. Strahorn and John Powell, received county approval to develop Brookford, a residential neighborhood laid out in 6 plats with about 100 quarter-acre lots.
Brochure courtesy ofLeslie Begley, Brookford resident.
John and Ruth Powell, owners of 35 acres in the SW hills that were later subdivided to become the Bridlemile neighborhood, continued to buy other land in the area. As a local historian wrote after interviewing Ruth Powell in 2003,
Robert Strahorn came to their door one day and asked if he could build homes on their lots. The Powells saw his work and knew that he built good homes. They became associated with Robert Strahorn. The Powells, and Strahorn combined their names to form a company named Strell and arranged to buy property the current Brookford property south of Hamilton from Dr. Ray.
Robert K. Strahorn was a Portland native, born in 1922 and a graduate of Grant High School. During WWII he served as a fighter pilot in the Pacific. He received a degree in engineering from Oregon State College in 1949.
Carie Strahorn, Robert Strahorn’s daughter, wrote, “I remember my dad saying that he saw the original idea for housing like this in Alaska and wanted to duplicate it for this market. He had an engineering degree from OSU rather than an architectural degree, but spent the lion's share of his life designing and building.”
“Portland’s Finest Community of Medium-Priced Homes”
From 1954 through 1957, The Sunday Oregonian real estate pages frequently displayed Brookford ads promoting the architectural features, competitive pricing, and the availability of VA financing. Other value-added amenities of the time included connection to a sewer system and curbed streets.
Sunday Oregonian, April 21, 1954
Chet Fergusons of Lake Oswego, the furniture store that staged the Brookford model home, was prominently featured in many Brookford classified ads.
Oregonian, August 21, 1954
Brookford Realty company was started to sell the homes in the development. The office was in the model home on SW Hamilton.
Oregonian, August 29, 1954
Brookford's location, 10 minutes from downtown, is still one of it's biggest benefits for residents today.
Oregonian, March 20, 1955
This ad describes the benefit of the "indoor-outdoor style of Suburban living" which current homeowners list as one of the biggest draws to the neighborhood, if not in quite the same language.
Oregonian, July 31, 1955
General Electric Kitchen Centers were a popular innovation of the time, and are installed and used in the homes of retro-kitchen enthusiasts now.
Oregonian, August 10, 1956
Original residents attest to the number of young families that purchased homes in Brookford. However, today's advertising rules preclude using this direct appeal to a particular group of buyers.
Oregonian, August 14, 1955
Keeping Rooms, one of the features listed here, date back to Colonial times. Is was a multi-purpose space off of the kitchen, generally with a fireplace for warmth. They were similar to what a family room or great room are today.
Brookford Garden Club
The Garden Club was formed in 1957 and took on a central role in the life of the neighborhood. Three annual events—an Easter egg hunt, Christmas tree lighting, and July 4th parade brought the neighborhood together, thanks to the organization and involvement of the Club. They also entered flower arranging and gardening competitions, took field trips, and supported a variety of charitable organizations.
Perhaps most importantly, every child who grew up in Brookford that we contacted for this article mentioned their memories of the Garden Club and the activities they sponsored.