A Historic Portland Mansion Gets a Wine Cave Upgrade

When banker and self-made tycoon Theodore Wilcox commissioned his family’s Southwest Portland home of 12,000+ square feet with the famous Whidden & Lewis architecture firm in 1893, he spared no expense. Eleven bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, mahogany paneled walls and seven fireplaces surrounded by onyx and marble create a sense of grandeur that sets in the second you step inside.

But the building, which has stood the test of time with very few modifications, did skimp on one hallmark of luxury in our humble opinion — the wine cave. It was our pleasure to correct this small oversight by adding an underground wine cellar to the property’s basement when it was acquired by new owners last year. 

When working with a historic property like this one — it’s on the National Register of Historic Places — it’s important to respect the space and not modify any walls or materials of historic significance. Thankfully, the brick and stone basement already provided the perfect location for wine storage without the need for additional refrigeration. We added a custom bar top made from one of the property’s original doors (set under glass to protect it), lower shelves custom made from reclaimed barn wood, top wine racks by STACT, and some very dramatic lighting, for a truly one-of-a-kind wine storage system for this one-of-a-kind architectural masterpiece. 

Before becoming business offices for the current owners, the mansion was home to broadcast country radio station KWJJ in the 1950s, Soviet military suppliers during WWII, and a school of music and dance in the intervening years. With such a storied past, it’s no surprise that the building is rumored to be haunted by spirits a little more supernatural than the bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene we tucked into the basement during our build. As long as they don’t drink the wine, we don’t think the new owners will mind.  

Interested in creating your own custom home wine cave, cellar or room?

All of our projects begin with a free design consultation and are:

  • Fully customizable for your space, style and collection

  • Handcrafted with wood and high-quality finishes sourced directly from Northwest suppliers

  • Designed with the protection of your wine collection in mind