Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 in Review – and in Rhyme

A long time ago the Galaxy Restaurant – not far away
Was slated for demolition, but remains empty to this day

Soon the Hollywood Theatre will have a new building adjacent
But is the building’s design compatible or complacent?

For now Storrs’ paraboloid remains hyperbolic
As Columbia River Crossing talks have become vitriolic

Lovers of old architecture are still stymied by demolition and deconstruction
Is it worth losing our history for a small tax deduction?

The sad loss in Richmond of a home known as Waverly
Means a new private park that doesn’t seem very neighborly

In Vista Brook and Oak Hills people swoon over Rummer
To diminish these neighborhoods would really be a bummer.

And as Buckman pursues their historic district
Design review fees have some neighbors ticked

On the South Waterfront there’s a vacant garage for the old Greyhound fleet
To see this building saved would certainly be a treat

The new Claybourne Commons will have an impact in Moreland
But the loss of The Woods is more than some can stand.

A surplus old library could see a new civic use
A shining star on the horizon in a neighborhood that’s withstood much abuse

Historic preservation myths abound about NIMBYs and Obstructionists
We’re really just lovers of the past not phony historicists

And what of the oldest buildings in our city so fair?
Hallock-McMillan and others – it’s great to know that people really do care

And oh yes, the Portland Plan is still on the table
With your help we’ll keep Preservation there – For as long as we are able

The Bosco-Milligan Foundation – Architectural Heritage Center

Wishes you a Happy New Year!

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Filed under Historic Preservation, Infill Development, Local History, Modernism + The Recent Past

What’s Going on at “The Woods”?

As we reported here at Portland Preservation back in August, the owners of most of the block adjacent to The Woods music venue at 6637  SE Milwaukie Avenue, have plans for a major redevelopment that includes 21 lots and the demolition of  the existing homes at 1606 SE Claybourne and 1605 SE Glenwood.

You can download the Bureau of Development Services’ staff report on the proposed project here: http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/index.cfm?a=359358&c=42262

While the initial redevelopment proposal outlined in the staff report did not meet BDS approval, according to PortlandMaps.com it appears that in October the project was given the go-ahead.

Now comes word that The Woods may be closing in January, unable to afford a proposed rent increase. As it just so happens, the owners of The Woods property are the same as those proposing to redevelop the adjacent block, Claybourne Commons, LLC. While it seems that the future of The Woods building may be in question, back in August, their redevelopment proposal noted that The Woods building would be saved and only houses would be demolished. This may be good news. While it is too bad to lose the houses that are perfectly habitable, it would be a huge loss for the Moreland area to lose The Woods building, a former funeral home built in 1928. While the building is a neighborhood landmark, it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places and therefore has little protection against demolition if such action is ever proposed. Let’s all hope they don’t change their minds and decide to demolish The Woods building too.

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Filed under Historic Preservation, Infill Development, Local History

Multnomah County Surplus Property: The Former Arleta Library

The former Arleta Library at SE 64th and Holgate. Photo Courtesy of Michael Orr.

On December 7th, staff and volunteers from the Bosco-Milligan Foundation/Architectural Heritage Center had the wonderful opportunity to tour the former Arleta Library on SE 64th and Holgate. More recently referred to as the Wikman Building, the now vacant facility was recently declared surplus property by Multnomah County after having served as a juvenile facility for several years. Thanks to the generosity of Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack and facilities manager Mike Sublett, we all certainly learned more than expected about the Arleta library’s past, present, and future.

Interior of the Arleta Library. Photo Courtesy of Michael Orr.

The Arleta Library was built, with support from the Carnegie Institute, in 1918. Folger Johnson was the architect. Johnson designed several Carnegie libraries in Oregon, including those in St. Johns, South Portland, Gresham, Hermiston, and Pendleton. His work also included the Albertina Kerr Nursery and the Town Club in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood. Many Folger Johnson designed buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In the early 1970s, a new Holgate Branch library opened and since that time, the Arleta Library building has been used primarily as office space for Multnomah County.

Folger Johnson's plan for the Arleta Library c. 1918. Photo Courtesy of Multnomah County

On December 22, the Multnomah County Commission will consider the possible sale of the historic library to an interesting coalition consisting of Southeast Uplift, the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association, the Foster Area Business Association, and ROSE Community Development.  If the deal is approved, the library may see new life as a neighborhood community center. There is clearly a lot of interest in adaptively re-using the building in a manner that serves this diverse community. Our hope is that whoever takes possession of the building also recognizes its historic and architectural significance and maintains its historic and architectural integrity. From our tour of the building, it would seem a clear candidate for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Such an honor would give some much needed recognition to the Foster-Powell neighborhood and its historic resources. It may also open the door for possible grant opportunities or other mechanisms that would support the building’s rehabilitation.

Interior of the Arleta Library in the early 1960s. Photo Courtesy of Multnomah County.

And lets also not forget that a historic renovation could also be a job creation tool. For example, the building still retains its fantastic original windows, which could be repaired (not replaced) and made air-tight. Such work would maintain the building’s original appearance while also making the building more energy efficient. Along the way, local craftsman could be hired to complete the work.

So while the future of the Arleta Library is unclear, it does appear that the building will find a new use that supports the community. This could be a great example for other such projects involving underutilized buildings around the city.

Sign above entrance to Arleta Library. Photo Courtesy of Michael Orr.

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Filed under Historic Preservation, Local History

Public Comments on the DRAFT Portland Plan Due by December 28th – Where’s Historic Preservation?

Written public comments for the draft Portland Plan must be submitted by December 28th. Bosco-Milligan Foundation executive director Cathy Galbraith presented testimony at a recent public hearing on the Portland Plan, expressing concern that nowhere in the document is the term historic preservation even mentioned.  In fact, there is only one reference to “historic resources” to be found in the draft document – a big disappointment to those who have worked tirelessly over the past few years to keep the conversation about historic preservation moving forward.

In addition to concerns over the lack of mentioning historic preservation, here are some other excerpts from the Bosco-Milligan Foundation’s comments about the Portland Plan draft. Please consider sending your own comments to the city before the 12/28 deadline.

Entirely absent from the Plan is any acknowledgement of the existing Historic Resources Inventory

The issue of “community character” in the traditional neighborhoods is a concern that was raised time and time again in the earlier Portland Plan workshops. The omission of this concern throughout most of the Plan is an oversight that needs to be addressed now.

The Plan’s segment on Complete Neighborhoods cites (page 101) the need to “increase housing in areas with services” while ignoring the earlier description that these areas are primarily built out. 

We do want Portland to at long last be a leader in social sustainability (page 10) – as important as and equal to environmental sustainability that has been the focus of much of the city’s efforts. Avoiding displacement and understanding and preserving historic and cultural connections should be an overriding goal of any equity agenda. The once-celebrated Albina Community Plan (1993) led to the start of displacement in N/NE; it was well-intentioned, but has long been described as “aspirational.” What’s relevant for the Portland Plan is that many of the lofty “action steps” that have gone unfulfilled in the Albina Community Plan read much like those in the proposed Portland Plan.

The Plan includes a city role in “helping to catalyze complementary local development” (page 25) for expansion of PCC Cascade, and “Develop new land use investment approaches to support the growth & neighborhood compatibility of college and hospital campuses in the comprehensive plan update” (page 47.)  Our concern is the expansion through demolition and displacement that has been typically practiced by these institutions. A more important first step should be the public deliberation and adoption of institutional “master plans”, before it’s presumed that college and hospital campus expansions will be undertaken without detriment to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The historic preservation community, property owners in Portland’s Historic Districts, and developers are now assertively raising the issue of the city’s unreasonably high historic design review fees, in particular; the $3,000+ application fee for individual landmark designation has already proven to be a disincentive for designation, with a total of two such applications in the past nine years. Portland’s historic design review (and landmarks designation) fees are higher than all other Oregon jurisdictions and higher than for any comparably sized municipality throughout the U.S.

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Filed under Historic Preservation, Infill Development, Modernism + The Recent Past, Schools, Sustainability