Allison Henry Dean (1897-1990) was a writer, realtor, and builder/architect in Portland, Oregon. His mid-century modern houses were ahead of their time and are known for open floor plans, vaulted ceilings, large windows that bring the outside in, built-ins and storage galore.
According to PortlandModern.com, “Dean seemed an interesting personage. He was a real estate agent and developer who seemed to be forward looking in many ways … did some other small houses using minimal construction techniques with a mid-century modern flavor, and it appears he handled a resale of the Jan De Graf house which is Portland’s only home designed by Richard Neutra (Van Evera Bailey was the local supervising architect for the project). Dean was an amateur actor active in the Portland theater scene and also a writer.”
Born in Scituate Harbor, Massachusetts in 1897, Dean grew up in Southern Saskatchewan, where he helped build his first house at the age of 14 on his father’s pioneer homestead. After serving in the Canadian Royal Air Force from 1917-1919, he moved in Portland in the mid-1920s, where he designed and built “Chassis United Houses” and “dozens of conventional homes ranging in value from $3500 to $20,000.”
By the early 1940s Dean was a charter member of the National Association of Home Builders, a guest lecturer on Real Estate at the University of Oregon, and traveled to Washington D.C. to served as consultant to the U.S. Government’s Housing Agency. In 1944 he published “Low Cost Homes for Millions: Dream of Possibility,” a 16-page booklet outlining how prefabricated, factory-built homes “invented, designed, and tested by Allison H. Dean” could be the solution for affordable housing for “every shop girl, every young couple, every old couple.”
This website is a collection of houses he built primarily in the Southwest Hills of Portland in the 1950s and 1960s, along with other collected writings as they become available. The site’s curator, Corinna Buchholz, lives with her family in a 1969 Allison-Dean built home on Patton Court.
“My Sod Home on the Prairie,” by Henry Allison Dean. Denver Post Empire Magazine.
“Low Cost Homes for Millions: Dream or Possibility,” by Allison H. Dean. 1944.
The Allison H. Dean Papers, 1920-1990. Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library. Overview of the collection via Archives West.
Allison H. Dean photographs collection circa 1940-1959. Oregon Historical Society Research Library.