A Story of Planning, Building and Living in a Beautiful Country Home

“A home should be a haven for those who live in it.

“A home should be a place of beauty and charm—with a feeling of peace, security and serenity; with an atmosphere of warmth, graciousness and hospitality.”

Those expressions indeed represent the philosophy of Mrs. James W. Mott, who is leaving her home after 35 years of planning, building and living in it.

She has sold her country home, a Polk County show place at Zena, to Mr. and Mrs. Jock Brydon, former Salem residents who are returning here after living in California. The new owners take possession this weekend.

CLOSES THE DOOR

Saturday, Mrs. Mott gently closed the door for the last time.

She stood for a few minutes on the front step to take a last look over familiar scenes—over the expansive, sloping lawn and gardens in front of the house, through the archways formed by limbs of ancient oaks, on over the cedar hedge that screens the house from the road, to the valley spreading out below, to the Cascades to the East.

The fields and orchards below the home and land just to the south had been part of her life since birth. The former Ethel Walling, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Jesse D. Walling, Mrs. Mott was born in the home of her grandparents just south and “around the bend” from her home. Her grandfather staked his claim at Zena on Jan. 1, 1847. Mrs. Mott’s parents moved to the Lincoln area when she was three years old.

Those fields and orchards at one time had been part of the properties owned by her father and uncles, and her grandfather and great-uncles—other members of the Walling clan had owned land on farther north, her great-grandfather, Gabriel Walling, having settled in what is now the city of Lake Oswego. Some of the clan had laid out the city of West Linn. Mrs. Mott’s grandfather laid out what is now the community of Lincoln. That place had been known as The Landing, but Mrs. Mott’s grandfather changed the name to Lincoln when Abraham Lincoln was elected president.

LAND HISTORIC

The first two acres of the present Mott home had been donated in 1865 by her grandfather, Jesse Dutton Walling, for the first school in the district with the stipulation that when the land ceased to be used for school purposes it reverted back to the Walling heirs.

In 1932 the other Walling heirs deeded the two acres to Mrs. Mott, and planning and development began then for the present home.

Mrs. Mott’s husband, the late Congressman James W. Mott, served from Oregon’s First Congressional District from 1933 until his death in 1945.

The Motts had lived in Astoria and Salem before starting the present home. Later in the 30s, land was purchased to increase the two acres to 35, the property today including a cherry orchard and a filbert orchard as well as the home. Although Mrs. Mott and the family of three daughters were with Mr. Mott in the capital for several years, they were at the Oregon home a great deal, too. After Mr. Mott’s death, Mrs. Mott kept up the place and developed the cherry orchards.

STORY OF A BUILDING

Taking a tour of the property with Mrs. Mott was to hear an interesting story on the planning and building of a home. The two acres first acquired today are the grounds around the house. In the 30s the Motts built what they called a cabin on that site—that cabin now is the north wing of the stately home, the large room converted into a spacious library, with a bath, bedroom and sleeping porch beyond, and a “second kitchen” at one side upon entering the hall and library.

In 1942 the present home with 14 rooms was completed. Plans were drawn by a Washington, D.C. architect, following authentically designs of early American homes in the East.

There are many special features in the home. . . . All the doors are the wide, cross and Bible ones. . . . The hardwood floors of random width oak with tongue and groove are pegged down with walnut wood nails. . . . The mantel of the living room fireplace is a longer one than usual in these parts. . . . The dormer windows on the second floor are authentic replicas of an early American home in the East. . .

There are things of interest, too, on the grounds about the house, and Mrs. Mott knows the history of many of the trees, shrubs and plantings there. . . .

Behind the house, to the West, are a sloping, uncultivated field, a grove of trees and a rocky knoll nurturing the springs that supply water for the place and feed the little creek that runs along the north side of the property.

Immediately back of the house is a row of tall firs, oaks, maples, pines, cedars and other trees and shrubs, all serving as a windbreak in stormy weather, also as a “cooler.” Every late afternoon the sea breeze moves in over the western slopes at back to keep down the temperatures in warm weather—usually, the temperature being about 10 degrees cooler there than down in the valley or in town on warm days.

BORDERS OF TREES

Trees border all four sides of the house—the orchards being on the other side.

In the little yard at the back of the house is an embankment, the ivy trailing over the rockery having come from starts obtained at the home of George Washington at Mt. Vernon. At one side of the steps leading up the embankment to the back driveway is an herb gardens, seeds for the plants coming from the gardens at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

At one side of the bit of lawn in back is a flowering crabapple that was grafted on a wild apple tree. On the back door step in an antique iron foot scraper in marble base, the object coming from the East coast.

Many of the trees and shrubs in front of the house are just as they were in their native state—one of them, a wild hazel bush just off the end of the house. South Carolina dogwood is planted here and there. There are many Oregon grape bushes in all areas of the garden, as well as wild currant and Ocean Spray.

Just beyond the porch off the dining room at the south end of the house is an upper terrace bordered at one end by a rock garden facing the porch—a row of bright red roses topping the rockery.

At the north end of the grounds are two stately golden cedar trees planted by the Motts and now grown higher than the house.

OLD OAKS DOMINATE

A halfmoon driveway separates the upper and lower grounds. Dominating all the area are the huge old oak trees. In several areas of the lawn borders are many old-fashioned pink and lavender-colored violets that grow at will.

At one corner near the driveway, protected by the trees, is an outdoor fireplace. The seats there were made from the foundation stones of the hold [sic] schoolhouse that once stood on the fireplace. The bricks for the fireplace hearth came from the first brick house build in Oregon, the bricks given to Mrs. Mott when the house was demolished. The stones for the fireplace came from the creek on the land of Mrs. Mott’s grandfather.

On the lower grounds across the driveway are camellias, azaleas and other flowers and shrubs. In one plot are pheasant eye narcissuses, the bulbs coming from the homes of Mrs. Mott’s grandmother and mother. Also, there are old-fashioned white lilacs from her grandmother’s home, and a picturesque, gnarled old Gravenstein apple tree that was on the old school property—and still bears a good crop of delicious apples. There are many rose plantings, too, cuttings from the homes of Mrs. Mott’s mother and grandmother.

THE ‘WILD’ GARDEN

In one corner in this lower garden area is a section known as the “wild garden,” the trees, rocks and shrubbery there when the Motts acquired the property left in their original state—there, too, are the many lamb tongues and Spring Beauties blossoming in the early Spring. Bordering the area is a grove of firs planted by the Motts at the north entrance of the driveway. The area along the back driveway has been left in its wild state, expect for the filbert orchard and grape plantings in the lower section. In these woods are many trilliums, especially along the creek and pool in the area.

Here and there, in looking out from the grounds, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson can be seen, also the quaint little church that stands on a hillside just north of the home. The Walling name is on several markers in the old cemetery at one side of the church.

In one corner of the cherry orchard at the home has been a garden spot. There is no more ardent gardener than Mrs. Mott, and friends agree she has a green thumb. Her vegetable gardens have been conversation topics.

NO PLACE ‘TO DIG’

“It’s going to be a big change to move into the city, and friends are wondering how I’ll get along without a place for digging,” Mrs. Mott said with a laugh. She has taken an apartment at Ivanhoe South in Salem—and from her front windows again are seen the Cascades to the East.

Without the constant responsivity of the orchards, looking after the large house, and caring for the lawn and grounds, Mrs. Mott will have more leisure time, however, and plans to visit with two of her daughters, Mrs. Benjamin Whisenand and Mrs. Gary Jones, in California, and the grandchildren. The eldest daughter, Mrs. John Sullivan, and her family recently returned to Washington, D.C. to live.

Source: Salem Capital Journal, December 30, 1967.

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