Ladd arrived in Portland with little money, but upon selling a box of liquor -- for $2,000 -- he had previously procured, he was able to open a general store, serving a need for a town boasting of less than 850 people and had only been given its charter from the territorial board three months prior -- but town growth seemed imminent. Those meager beginnings led to numerous other business ventures that speak volumes about Portland's early history; he invested in such industries as lumber, railroads, mills, steamships, and telegraphs.
Ladd was the founder of the Oregon Iron Works and Oregon Central Railroad Company. He was also the leading spirit and investor behind the Oregon Telegraph Company and the Portland Hotel. Ladd also donated much of his money, considering charity as a tithing and following the Old Testament ideals of tithing one-tenth of his income. He also served as a leader towards founding the Library Association of Portland, including donating the land necessary to build it. Moreover, he helped the town develop the River View Cemetery, as well as the Portland Water Commission, which helped residents enjoy clean water, a necessity for any growing town in the 19th century (and today, obviously).
By the late 1870s, after serving as the town's mayor and amassing a fortune, he succumb to paralysis. Already a lover of animals, he suddenly found himself in need of them to move around town. With his great wealth, he commissioned builders to construct a lavish carriage house that became an integral part of his large estate
Ladd's death in 1893 led to a slow erosion of his estate as parts of it were sold off, demolished, and/or repurposed. While his mansion was mansion was demolished, the carriage house was left vacant and fell into disrepair. It was scheduled for demolition in 2007 to make room for the construction of new apartment buildings. Preservationists sprung into action to save the historic building, renovating the structure and seeking a plan for its future usefulness.