Category Archives: Schools

The State of Historic Preservation in Portland – 2014

The Portland City Council will hear the annual “State of the City Preservation Report” from the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission on Thursday, July 31st starting at 2:00PM. A number of historic preservation issues, successes, and challenges are included in the very thorough report. We hope you will help fill City Hall with supporters of historic preservation, especially those who are concerned about demolitions and other issues currently facing neighborhoods around the city.

Here’s a link if you want to download the 2014 PHLC report.

The City also recently announced the first draft of their 2035 Comprehensive Plan and is now accepting public comment. There is voluminous information about the plan here. Also, on September 9th, the AHC will be hosting a panel discussion on the draft Comp Plan and what it might mean for historic preservation in the city. City staff will be on hand to talk about the plan and to offer insight for those interested in giving public comment at meetings this fall. You can read more the program and register to attend here.

At the AHC, we have been specifically involved in advocating for better preservation of our Skidmore/Old Town National Historic Landmark District, and the New Chinatown/Japantown National Register Historic District (through the West Quadrant Plan’s meetings over the past 18 months), as well as the campaign to save the Portland Gas & Coke Building (as part of the “Friends of” group meetings), just to name a few. We have also been a “first responder” to the Epidemic of Demolitions of Portland’s single-family homes. There will be more to come very soon on our proposed “list of cures” for this epidemic, so please check back! We are also a founding member organization of the Portland Coalition for Historic Resources; the PCHR recently agreed on three priority steps for the city to take to start the ball rolling on addressing the Epidemic of Demolitions – – also coming very soon.



Filed under Events, Historic Preservation, Infill Development, Schools, Sustainability

Historic Preservationists to Attend Upcoming City Council Meeting

At the Wednesday, March 7th, 9:30AM meeting of the Portland City Council, historic preservationists from around the city are planning to gather in support of reforms to the historic design review process and fee structure. This comes in the wake of recent concerns raised in the Buckman neighborhood (and elsewhere) over the exorbitant fees for even minor exterior changes to a building in a designated historic district.  Preservationists are encouraged to show up and show City Council that these places matter – even if you don’t wish to testify.

There’s more information at this Facebook event site.


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

Architectural Heritage Center Teams Up With Smartphone App Developer Tagwhat

The Bosco-Milligan Foundation owns and operates the Architectural Heritage Center in Portland, OR  whose mission, in part, is to inspire people to conserve the art, craft, and context of historic buildings and places. In their latest venture, the AHC has teamed up with the developers of the smartphone app Tagwhat,  to continue in their quest to help both Portland residents and visitors alike better understand the architectural history of the Rose City. Tagwhat bills itself as “The mobile encyclopedia of where you are” and their easy to use application is a great way to learn more about the city from right where you are standing.

Users of the application are able to filter Tagwhat “tags” by subject based channels.  For Portland, these channels include one dedicated to content uploaded by the folks at the AHC. Thanks to the help of an intern, over 70 buildings and sites around the city have (to date) been “tagged” with content ranging from building dates and architects’ names to fantastic photos showing how a particular building looked maybe a century ago. Users are then able to share virtual postcards via Facebook or email, so you can show your friends back home (or across town) how great the architecture is in Portland.

In many instances, the tags also include links to more information, such as an entry about a local architect that can be found on The Oregon Encyclopedia. The AHC hopes to have more than 150 tags, covering much of the city, uploaded into their channel by the end of March.

Click on the map to learn more about the buildings and other sites on the AHC’s Tagwhat channel.

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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.


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

Historic Preservation League of Oregon Seeking Nominations for Endangered Places List

A few weeks back the Historic Preservation League of Oregon sent out a call for nominations for their first ever Most Endangered Places of Oregon list. During the HPLO’s Preservation Roundtable on historic districts last summer, participants brought to the HPLO’s attention a number of threatened historic places around the state in need of additional visibility and community support. In order to learn about and actively support these properties the HPLO has assembled an endangered places list modeled after successful examples found around the country, such as those administered by the National and Washington Trusts for Historic Preservation.

The Simon Building facade and Sinnott House Building in Portland's Old Town

Like these other endangered places lists, the HPLO is asking friends of preservation to first nominate the vulnerable and valuable historic places that matter to their communities. Nominations can be prepared by anyone for any place that embodies local, state, or national history and is under some natural or man-made pressure of demolition, alteration, or neglect. Nominated places that are selected for this year’s list will then be made an integral part of the HPLO’s field programming for 2011, providing the slate of loved places with individual technical assistance and collective statewide attention.

Additional information about the Most Endangered Places program, as well as a nomination form, can be found here.

Nominations are being accepted through March 21st, with an announcement made in late May.

Demolition of the Rosefriend Apartments in 2007. Photo courtesy of Brian Libby.

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Efforts to Create a National Register Historic District in Buckman Continue

For more than a year, the all-volunteer Buckman Historic Association has been working on the preliminary phase of a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the oldest portion of this southeast Portland neighborhood. During this time they’ve criss-crossed every street within the proposed historic district, probably more than twice, in an effort to effectively  survey the existing buildings and to get a better sense of the area’s history and significance. Now that they have submitted their initial survey work to the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), it’s time for neighbors to learn more about what such a nomination would mean (or not mean) and to weigh in on the matter.

Next Thursday, March 10th, the Buckman Community Association (BCA) and the Bosco-Milligan Foundation/Architectural Heritage Center are sponsoring a discussion on the proposed historic district, during the BCA’s March general meeting. At this meeting, area residents will learn more about the pros and cons of a historic district, from City of Portland and SHPO staff.  Also speaking will be Art deMuro of Venerable Properties and Stephen Zylstra, a resident of Ladd’s Addition – also a historic district.  Questions are encouraged.

The meeting is at Central Catholic High School, 2401 SE Stark St. at 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 10th. The presentation will be preceded by the regular BCA meeting at 7:00 pm.

After gauging support for the district from this initial outreach meeting, next steps will include intensive level surveys of specific buildings and more detailed physical descriptions of the proposed district. Once that work is drafted, the project will then be turned over to a consultant who will write the final nomination.

In the meantime, if you are interested in assisting with historical research, physical descriptions, outreach or fundraising, you can contact the Buckman Historic Association at


Filed under Events, Historic Preservation, Infill Development, Local History, Schools

Historic Preservation buried in latest Portland Plan draft objectives

It’s good that Historic Preservation “made the cut” and is included in the latest draft objectives for the Portland Plan. However, the subject is buried rather deep within the nine so-called “Action Areas” of the plan. It is clear that if preservation is going to gain any teeth, we’ll need to draw more attention to the cause.

If you look at the Portland Plan Action Areas, you’ll see that one is called Design, Planning, and Public Spaces. The only mention of historic preservation is located in this category under Direction 2, Objective C.

Here is what that objective says:  “Today, historic resources contribute to the identity of Portland. But, large areas of the city lack historic preservation strategies and have also not benefitted from energy retrofits or other efforts that link preservation and sustainability.

By 2035, preservation and reuse of historic buildings is integrated into Portland’s sustainable development strategies. The city has implemented strategies that promote the preservation of historic resources and energy retrofits throughout the city.”

The City also has another Community Survey that they are asking folks to fill out by June 1st. There are NO questions that ask about historic resources or neighborhood character in this survey.

If you have not already filled out the survey, here are some of the questions where you might add comments to raise the issue of historic preservation:

Question #8 – Housing Choices – The housing choices should be distributed throughout the entire city, not only in established traditional neighborhoods.

Question # 16 – Neighborhood satisfaction – We want to preserve our existing neighborhood character.

Question #18 – Household Energy – Do not support the removal/replacement of old-growth wood windows, this is not effective energy conservation.

Question # 22 – Backlog on Facilities Repairs – We should maintain and repair historic schools, parks, and other public buildings.

The last question (#23) asks “Are there any Missing Priorities?” – We need to raise the profile and visibility of our Historic Resources; the greenest buildings are those already built and they also define who we are.

Please take a few minutes and fill out the survey – comments about Historic Resources are very important!

If you are interested in seeing preservation gain more standing in the Portland Plan process, we urge you to let the City know and also consider attending one of the remaining public workshops on May 15th or 18th.

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Preserving Neighborhood Schools

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently published a series of recommendations for preserving community centered schools. Their suggestions might come in handy for those advocating to preserve Portland area high schools and for anyone interested in keeping their neighborhood schools open and active. These schools are so often a major part of neighborhood fabric. It is important that they be maintained or, in some cases, find new uses that make them more accessible to the public and increase their benefits to the surrounding community. Click Here for more on the National Trust’s recommendations for community schools and to download their report Helping Johnny Walk to School. There’s even a picture of our very own Grant High School in the report.


Filed under Historic Preservation, Schools

After the Fire: Update on Marysville School

It’s been a few months now since one of Portland’s most intact historic schools was badly damaged in a fire. Now comes word that plans are in the works to restore and upgrade the building. In today’s Daily Journal of Commerce, this article mentions plans to restore the building, maintaining much of its historic character in the process. It will be interesting to see the design options currently being developed. It is also good to know that many of the building’s historic details have been salvaged and await re-use in the restoration effort.

If you haven’t seen it before, here is a link to the Historic Building Assessment for Marysville School, completed just months before the fire.

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Preservation and Sustainability: Could the Concept of Using What We Have Be Gaining Traction?

This Oregonian editorial draws attention once again to the connections between sustainability and historic preservation: “Use what we have”. In recent months Metro has begun talking about this concept, albeit more broadly. Last September, Metro COO Michael Jordan announced his Strategies for a Sustainable and Prosperous Region. We can only hope that these actions lead to positive results in the preservation of our communities and traditional neighborhoods.


Filed under Historic Preservation, Local History, Modernism + The Recent Past, Schools, Sustainability