On a high bluff on the Willamette River, just to the east of Dunthorpe, sits Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishop’s Close. A thirteen acre estate with approximately six acres of cultivated English-style gardens, designed by the New York firm of Olmsted and Son, acclaimed designers of Central Park in New York City.
Open seven days a week to the public and widely known for its gorgeous array of magnolias, as well as a host of other native and exotic plants, Elk Rock was created by Peter Kerr and his wife.
The land was purchased back in the 1890’s and shared by Peter and his brother Thomas and their business partner, until the two of three bachelors took wives and moved on. Kerr then married Laurie King in 1905 and had two daughters.
In 1914, construction on the larger house, designed by D.E. Lawrence began, taking two years to complete. Subsequently, Mr. Kerr, an avid gardener began his plans for an extensive garden.
In 1957, the house and garden were gifted to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon, along with an endowment for the care and maintenance of the garden, by Kerr’s two daughters, Anne McDonald and Jane Platt, who stipulated the garden be opened to visitors.
The Elk Rock Garden Foundation and the Friends of Elk Rock Garden Foundation were formed in 1994 to protect, preserve and perpetuate this magnificent garden.