December 10, 2013
There’s a roster of the Minutemen of Plaistow, New Hampshire, from 1775. A poster announcing Abraham Lincoln’s plans to attend Ford’s Theatre on the night he was assassinated and an autograph of John Wilkes Booth on a New York play program. And the typewriter John F. Kennedy used to compose speeches.
These and about 300 other artifacts make up the Mark Family Collection, assembled by Pete Mark over more than a half century. Built with passion by the owner of Melvin Mark Cos., the commercial real-estate giant of Portland, Oregon, the collection highlights moments in history: priceless treasures detailing an eventful and world-changing American past.
Lately, 87-year-old Pete has been able to share it more widely. The Oregon Historical Society in Portland opened its Windows on America exhibit in June that features the Mark Family Collection. The exhibit, sponsored by The Private Client Reserve, was extended by popular demand until early January.
“I enjoy acquiring the materials,” Pete says. “But even more, I enjoy when people see the collection. It brings history alive.”
A Love of History
Pete’s fascination with U.S. history is grounded in his upbringing in Philadelphia, where he grew up surrounded by Revolutionary War icons such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. His college experience at the University of Virginia deepened his love for the study of America’s roots and evolution. Pete began turning this passion into an impactful collection in 1962, after he saw an ad in the New York Times for a letter written by the Marquis de Lafayette. His mother-in-law tried to surprise him and buy it for his birthday, but it was already sold. Instead, she purchased a Theodore Roosevelt missive. That was all the encouragement Pete needed.