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.

1977 Press Photo of Portland Realtor Allison Henry Dean. Photo is from HistoricImages on ebay. Clipping on back of photo reads: Allison Dean, is a tall, courtly gentleman with a gracious manner that suggests the model Southern gentleman, owner of a stately ante-bellum mansion. However, he isn't from the South. He was born 80 years ago last Feb.2, in Scituate Harbor, Mass., 10 miles from Boston and gre up on a homestead on the plains of Saskatchewan, Canada.
1977 Press Photo of Portland Realtor Allison Henry Dean. Photo is from HistoricImages on ebay.

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.


9 thoughts on “About

    1. Not much on that house specifically, but that whole cul-de-sac has several Dean homes built around the same time (1969 or so). Looking through other photographs and comparing them to the 2738 house you might be able to identify Dean-specific traits such as multiple fireplaces, house built on a steep slope with entry on the top floor, etc. Is it going on the market soon?


  1. Yes, the above description matches this home perfectly. It’s a day ranch built in 1957 that is built on a slope with 2 large fireplaces. It will be on the market in about 3 weeks.


    1. If you let me know when the listing and photos are live, I can definitely add it to this website. Dean houses are great to live in. Very well built, lots of storage, and fun architectural details scattered throughout.


  2. i am amazed how livable our Dean home is i was impressed with the look but now that we have lived in it for a year he was so ahead of his time. its nice to see the big wright-up about our home on your web sight..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember your grandfather well. He and Mrs. Dean were such wonderful people. She would fix Welsh Rarebit souffle for a “meal” after our High School Sunday evening meetings at their home in Northeast Portland before moving to the Springs. There used to be a picture he painted on the wall at Kirk’s place on Mason. Is it still there. Ioved it.


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