[Editor: Patrick Dignan obituary (2021)]
Pat and Andy Dignan moved to their historic 1911 home on Hunt Club Lane in Garden Home in 1965. It was the original F.A. Martin home. They have lived there for 44 years. Their children were Todd, b. 1954, Laurie b. 1957 and Ted b. 1967.
Andy Dignan has three Hunt Club trophies (acquired from an estate sale) that were awarded in the early years. The tall silver vase says Portland Hunt Club Show 1916. The smaller trophies say Jaeger Brothers, Portland Hunt Club 1910 won by Jim Johnson and Brigide. Also the Lipman Wolfe Trophy, Portland Hunt Club.
Their home was built in 1911 for F.A. Martin as depicted in these photos.
The Hunt Club was incorporated in 1906 and then became the Portland Hunt Club in 1911. Harry Kerron owned the adjacent property and The Portland Riding Academy was born. Son Don took over in later years. Don gave lessons in the arena which burned in 1969 or ’70. The Nicols Riding Academy was established where the current Oregon Episcopal School is located. The homes in the Hunt Club area were originally built to be used for the fox hunting season, hence the fox on the entry pillars.
Andy remembers when Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Frank would drive their horse and buggy through the neighborhood politely greeting the neighbors. She also recalls Alice’s and Elmer’s Ice Cream Parlor which was near the Post Office and the pharmacy in the shopping center in the 1950s and 1960s.
During an early remodel to the Dignan Hunt Club home, the family discovered a small hidden door on an outside shingled wall. Pat Dignan pulled out old, rotting raffia mats. Mr. Kerron was consulted and he revealed that it was the deposit spot for illegal moonshine in the Prohibition days.
The Dignans had numerous fruit trees on their lot and in the area. Andy would take the fruit to Whitney’s Cannery at the junction of Multnomah Boulevard and Garden Home roads, going in the front door facing on Garden Home Road. The fruit was put on a conveyor belt for washing and then it proceeded along where it was skinned if necessary, cut and prepared for the can. Andy would select the size of can and the wording for the label. The cans were then processed and Andy would pay the cost.
Andy was active in the school and community events in addition to Junior League of Portland, a women’s charitable organization in Portland. She was also the official chaperone to the Portland senior Rose Court in 1969 which involved many activities including entertaining in the Dignan home.
Andy usually shopped at Lamb’s Thriftway in Garden Home although she occasionally shopped at Kienow’s in Raleigh Hills.
The nearby Portland Riding Academy had the upper stables where people could board their horses and they would be cared for by the Club staff. The former Hunt Club is now a private home off of Hunt Club road. For $25 a month, the Dignan daughter Laurie boarded her horse, Chico, in the lower stables where the owner had to do the daily feeding, watering, grooming, exercise and stall mucking for their own horses. Mr. Kerron was very strict and would notify the owner if the horse was not being cared for properly. When the weather was particularly cold, local residents would bring all kinds of animals to the barns to be cared for. One extremely cold winter, Chico was brought to the Dignans front hallway for shelter.
The Portland Riding Academy was the business to teach riding, sponsor events and provide horses. Mr. Kerron was widely known for putting rubber shoes on the horses that were used in the Rose Parade or on other hard surfaces. Horses and sulkies used the quarter-mile track at the Hunt Club. Mr. Purvis gained national recognition as a sulky driver. The Hunt Club and the Portland Riding Academy was located just north of the Hunt Club Road area. They had a grandstand looking north at the quarter- mile track. This property is now part of the Oregon Episcopal School campus.
Mr. F.F. Bernard was the first person to live in the Hunt Club properties year round. He was a Portland attorney and then his son and his wife lived there. The Bernard home is the first property at the Y entrance to Hunt Club Lane and Hunt Club Road. Remaining buildings associated with the Portland Riding Academy were torn down in the 1980s and new homes were constructed on the Riding Academy site and additional properties, all adding to the original six homes.
In the 1960s, the neighborhood children walked to Garden Home School. They were allowed to walk to Lamb’s Thriftway shopping center to get an ice cream cone at Alice’s and Elmer’s. Flag football took place on the large lawns in the Hunt Club area. The Dignan kids and neighborhood pals rode the ski bus to Mt. Hood. The Garden Home Community Church had many activities for young people.
Gertsch’s Dairy was just north of the Dignan property where the Arranmore development is located.
When Oleson Road was being widened in 2009, the historic 1910 pillars at the entry to the Hunt Club properties were carefully dismantled and restored as directed by Jack Harper, the Director of Washington County Land Use and Transportation. The pillars contain the names of early Hunt Club pioneers. According to a June 6, 2002 Valley Times article, the Hunt Club pillars were “erected in 1910 when six residents built summer homes in the area surrounding the Portland Hunt Club. On one is the Hunt club’s emblem: a fox’s head and a horseshoe.” On the other pillar are the names of the area’s six original residents: J. Freck, F.F. Bernard, F.A. Martin, A.M. Cronin, F.A. Gilmore and H.M. Kerron.