Slabtown Nob Hill Fun Fact #18: The Great Pretender

Headline "Facade of Famous Bank to Join Colony" January 27, Eric Ladd is standing in what does not appear to be a safe place to stand in one of the top floor archways of the Ladd and Tilton Bank.

What was Eric Ladd’s Real Name?

Answer: Eric Ladd was born Leslie Carter Hansen on July 29, 1920.

Not only did he acquire amazing homes and meld together various elements.  His friends “borrowed” some iron fencing from Mark Twain’s house in Missouri and put the fencing around his grave. Courtesy Lone Fir

Leslie Carter Hansen attended Ainsworth Elementary School and Lincoln High School.  Eric Ladd was the name he adopted in 1941 when he studied acting presumedly had an acting career in Hollywood until 1943.  He returned to the area to become a shipyard worker in 1943.  He was handsome, debonair, and a connoisseur of elegant old buildings-predating-a formalized system of preservation, he was winging it.

There is a wonderful article in the Northwest Sunday Magazine on March 21, 1971 that details a number of the buildings that Eric attempted to save. Eric Ladd faced rampant demolition of historic structures not unlike the threats historic buildings see today in Portland as we face an increasing demand for multi-unit residential rental houses. Once the demand for parking drove demolitions – currently the demand for housing is driving the wave of demolitions.

The early days of the “Ladd Colony” Kamm on the left Lincoln House replica constructed for the 1905 Lewis & Clark Fair. (Image copyright is owned by the University of Oregon) Eric Ladd NW Magazine 1971

In the 1960s Ladd collected a number of historic buildings the way some elite collect antique cars.  The collection of homes, fondly called “the colony” stood on a two acre tract of land at SW 21st and Jefferson. He operated a restaurant out of the Kamm House from 1955 to 1959. The structures were moved there and all but one had been condemned by the City of Portland.  His home will be open to the public for twenty-five dollars on June 21st, 2015.

Eric was openly gay this OHS image is from a high society event.

Eric Ladd was one of the leaders in saving cast iron components of buildings being demolished during the 1960s Urban Renewal Era. He was also instrumental in saving the Pittock Mansion

Eric Ladd received the Northwest Examiner historic preservation award in 1994 and the Bosco-Milligan Foundation award in 1999.