Pete Mark: In Memoriam

For more than six decades, Pete Mark played a central role in shaping Portland. With more than 2.8 million square feet of commercial real estate in their portfolio, Melvin Mark Companies has expanded from its roots in historic buildings to include modern high rises and office campuses. Pete’s work in downtown revitalization energized many to join the cause. His efforts helped to create enduring Portland landmarks like Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Mark Building at the Portland Art Museum.

In recent years, his personal passion for history has worked to transform the Oregon Historical Society. Pete's fascination with American history is not surprising, given that he was born in Philadelphia, went to high school in New York City, and graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville—three cities that played important roles in the history of our nation. It was not until he lived in Portland, however, that he changed from being a student of history to being a collector. The collection began with a letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt, and over the course of the past fifty years, it has grown to become what is truly one of the finest collections in the country.

Beginning in 2013, five extraordinary exhibitions featuring Pete's personal collection of iconic and remarkable historic documents and artifacts have brought American presidential history to life for tens of thousands of Oregonians. The first exhibition of the Mark Family Collection, Windows on America, can be permanently viewed anywhere in the world through the Oregon Historical Society website. Today, many pieces from Pete's collection can be seen in the current OHS exhibit, High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy.

“Pete’s love of history was undeniable, and through his collection he gave Oregonians and visitors to the Oregon Historical Society the once in a life time opportunity to see artifacts that shaped our nation,” said Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “He was passionate about history, and was adamant that his collection be shared with the people of Portland, the city where he built his family and his business. Pete was a friend to OHS, and even more, a dear personal friend, and he will be sorely missed.”

Pete and his late wife, Mary, set a standard for generous philanthropic leadership. It is impossible to walk through downtown Portland without seeing their visionary impact, and no place was this truer than in the exhibition halls of the Oregon Historical Society.

News Stories About Pete

Portland real estate giant, philanthropist Melvin 'Pete' Mark dies | Portland Business Journal, June 1, 2017

Pete Mark shares presidential artifacts, from Founding Fathers to JFK, at Oregon History Museum | OregonLive, June 7, 2013

Historian visits Lincoln exhibit at OHS | Portland Tribune, July 21, 2014

David McCullough tours Oregon Historical Society, loves everything he sees | OregonLive, October 30, 2015

JFK: Inspiring a new generation | Portland Tribune, March 15, 2017