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.