The Portland Homes plan book is the only book we have at the moment published by the Universal Plan Service. It has quite a few nice plans with some attractive line drawings, which were clearly rendered by different draftsmen.
We don't know that much about Universal Plan Service ... yet. They were in business for about 25 years in Portland.
Portland Homes was in its second edition when it was published in 1926. Its designer and arranger, was Harry B. Boland, a young architect from Montana. Boland was the youngest son of an Irish miner, Maurice Boland, and his wife Marie. In 1917, at the time of the WWI draft registration, Boland was working as a draftsman/architect for Ballard Planning Co. in Spokane, but by 1920 he had moved to Seattle where the US Census shows him again as a draftsman.
More research is needed to determine how Boland came to Portland and how he ended up with the Universal Plan Service. According to one source at the City of Seattle, he may have been in a partnership with E. Glen Morgan, who trained at UC Berkeley, though it's not clear whether Morgan actually got his degree in architecture. Boland and Morgan may have met in Seattle, where Morgan worked as a building estimator in 1920.
It is clear that company attracted a number of talented architects who went on to establish their own practices. After a stint at Universal Plan, Howard Lester Gifford designed the beautiful NW icon, Timberline Lodge during the Depression. Don Byers worked during the 1940s for the company and later made his mark as a prominent Portland architect of mid-century modern buildings both residential and commercial.
Though the history of the company is very thin at the moment, it won't diminish the charm of many of these small homes.
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