Latest News on the Old Waverly Baby Home

As Portland Preservation reported last month, plans are underway to redevelop  the old Waverly Baby Home at 3550 SE Woodward in Portland. Although not designated as historic by the City of Portland or any other entity, this building has major historical  significance, and not just because the main building is of a fine architectural quality. Perhaps more importantly, this building has a lengthy social history as a home for orphans and other children. So it is sad to report that demolition plans for the site are moving forward.

Earlier in the week we learned that the current owners of the property (Trillium Family Services) have applied for a demolition permit for the building. The building is listed on the City’s Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) with a rank of II, so we thought that there would at least be a demolition delay, but alas no such luck. Apparently Trillium has asked to have the building removed from the HRI, and according to City regulations, that is all they have to do – ask. Once the removal from the HRI is processed, the demolition will likely be allowed to proceed without delay.

Regardless of what you think about the plans for the new development on the Waverly Baby Home, doesn’t this seem like a wasted opportunity? Couldn’t they have come up with a plan that was far more creative and neighborhood friendly, as well as sensitive to the historical significance of the site? Shouldn’t there be some sort of mechanism in place to prevent such needless demolitions from occurring? And how sustainable is it to demolish a rather massive brick building to replace it piecemeal with single family residences? It could take years for the new development to fill out, in the meantime we will have lost another small chapter of our past.

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17 Comments

Filed under Historic Preservation, Local History, Sustainability

17 responses to “Latest News on the Old Waverly Baby Home

  1. Could someone perhaps remove later additions to the baby building and create a VERY unique and large home with the original structure? I’ve heard of people who live in old churches but this would be unique for sure. Then the remainder of the land could be used for a number of newer houses. Also, what’s going to happen the the nice brick retaining wall?

  2. Not having been inside or knowing anything about the structure or it’s issues…wouldn’t this be a neat place to recreate into something like The Kennedy School? That project seems to be an asset in the community; why could this not be as well? Just my thoughts. I just discovered this building because of your blog…sad to see it’s being demolished.

  3. Janet Wilson

    What a shame….. I have been in the home to do research on Mrs. Pittock. She and several other ladies started the Waverly Baby Home to take care of the many orphans that were in dire straits after losing their parents on the Oregon Trail… Mrs. Pittock and other leading ladies of Portland got together often and made baby clothes for the children and to be sold for funds to keep the home going…. she would be so sad to see the home torn down….. surely there must be a better way…..save the baby home…..

    • Katrina

      hello my name is Katrina Looney and i am doing research on the home and its connection to OSU if you have any information of can point me in the right direction on how to obtain there archives i would be very grateful.
      It is a shame that there going to demolish it and kinda of strange because trillium just renovated a historical building on there Corvallis property at the children farm home. I hope people band together and fight it there is strength in numbers.

      looney_k25@yahoo.com

      • Rick Vaughn

        Katrina, I have been trying to find out what happened to the old records. My mother was adopted from there in 1913 or 1914. Do you know where I can get the info?

  4. cheryl

    I was in Waverly around 1965 because my mother was recieving radioactive iodine treatment and could not keep my brother and I untill she was better. I do not have rave reviews about my stay there but also in its defense realize that understaffing plays a huge role in quality care at any institution. I would also like to state that it was safer than the foster home I was later placed in. Oh yeah back to the thread. It is a shame and a waste to not utilize already existing buildings instead of tearing them down for ugly, cheap new ones. Waverly is a beautiful building inside and out.

  5. Tanya March

    I look at the great job the PSU community did preserving the Fruit and Flower/ Helen Gordon building on 12th and Market and I can not help wishing that re-habilitation tax credit did not force re-development funding to perpetuate the change of use of historic buildings. The Old Waverly Baby Home a “twiner” of Helen Gordon structure was an unfortunate and unjustifiable preservation loss. I’m glad Val and staff spent some time and effort to defend the merits of this building.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/11/urban_subdivision_is_planned_f.html

  6. Did someone at least save some of the pillars, windows,fixtures and such?

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  8. JUDITH

    I LIVE ADJACENT TO THE WAVERLY BABY HOME AND WAS SO SAD THAT THE CITY DECIDED NOT TO PRESERVE IT. I THOUGHT IT WOULD MAKE A GREAT COMMUNITY ARTS CENTER. BUT, TRILLIUM DID TRY TO SELL THE BUILDING FOR AT LEAST 5 YEARS WITH NO TAKERS. OUR NEIGHBORHOOD WILL BE THE LOSER. INSTEAD OF A BEAUTIFUL HISTORIC PROPERTY, WE WILL HAVE FAUX-HISTORIC STYLE HOUSES. SO SAD.

  9. Dori Grissam

    I was placed there to be adopted in January, 1966 and believe that it is an important part of history, especially to those of us trying to find our roots.

  10. Dori Grissam

    Does anyone know any information about the woman who gave up her daughter on January 5, 1966 and was adopted 3 weeks later?

    • Carolyn

      Dori not promising anything – however, I have had a bit of success in finding birth parents for myself, brother, and several others. I hope you’ll share with me what you know as well as what you may have heard that may/may not seem significant. Blessings and hope

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  12. K. A. O'Keefe

    I was there in 1968. My heart is broken, again. I just read this article today and have cried all afternoon. K. A. O’Keefe

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