Western Oregon’s diocesan headquarters sells for $4.5 million; garden to remain open to public

Posted Aug 3, 2023

The Bishop’s Close, the Diocese of Oregon’s headquarters. Photo: Diocese of Oregon

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church in Western Oregon has sold its 9-acre headquarters on the southern outskirts of Portland on the west bank of the Willamette River. It was purchased by descendants of the family that gifted the lush, secluded estate to the diocese decades ago, and the family says the property’s Elk Rock Garden will remain open to the public.

The property, known as Bishop’s Close, was originally the home of the Kerr family, who built it in 1916 to resemble a Scottish manor house. The garden is one of the largest, oldest privately owned gardens in Oregon and is maintained with funding from its own nonprofit foundation.

The Kerr family donated the property to the diocese in 1957. It had housed the bishop’s office ever since, but the property was expensive to maintain and relatively isolated. Last November, Bishop Diana Akiyama announced the diocese’s intention to sell the property and move to a location more accessible to the community and its ministries, such as a women’s shelter and counseling center in central Portland.

The diocese put the property on the market for an asking price of $4.5 million and received offers above that amount, but the Kerr descendants had right of first offer and agreed to purchase the property for the full asking price, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

“We are working out the details of its preservation and we will make a formal announcement when plans fall into place,” one family member, Nancy Truszkowski, told The Oregonian. “Through the Friends of Elk Rock Foundation, we will be launching a fundraising campaign to support the garden’s upkeep.”

The sale was finalized July 28, Akiyama said in a message to the diocese, and the diocesan staff members have relocated to new offices in Milwaukie, a city on the east bank of the Willamette River that borders Portland to the south.

“The Close and Elk Rock Garden will always have a special place in the heart of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, and I am glad people will be able to continue to enjoy the property,” Akiyama said.