About Our Work

Irving House

Historic J. R. Irving House (demolished)

In 1970, Lake Oswego resident, Mary Goodall, spearheaded an effort to save the historic Carpenter Gothic style J. R. Irving House. It was ultimately demolished to make way for the Oswego Towne Square shopping center in Mountain Park. Over four decades later, in 2011, Mary Goodall’s advocacy for this endangered building served as one inspiration for founding the Lake Oswego Preservation Society.

junior historical society

Mary Goodall and the Lake Oswego Junior Historical Society members

The Society is the only local non-profit actively working to promote the positive triple bottom line impact—social, environmental, and economic—of building retention. As our community works toward greater sustainability, preservation is key. One of the Society’s goals is to change the mindset that recycles bottles and cans, but throws entire buildings into landfills.

We have received recognition, both locally and statewide, for our historic preservation advocacy on behalf of Lake Oswego landmarks. No other organization does what we do for Lake Oswego.

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Testimonials and Accomplishments

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” Here are unsolicited testimonials inspired by our actions:

  • “THE organization for historic preservation in Lake Oswego.”
  • “You have made a positive difference in our community.”
  • “Lake Oswego is lucky to have you!”
  • “Many thanks and appreciation for the efforts of Marylou Colver and the Lake Oswego Preservation Society for working tirelessly to preserve the integrity and history of our beloved town!”
  • “Wonderful research.”
  • “The Society is an organization that talks the talk and walks the walk. They do good work and a lot of it.”
  • “What you do is so worthwhile!”
  • “Thanks for your excellent work and dedication.”
  • Reading Lake Oswego Vignettes has made living in Lake Oswego much more enjoyable.
  • ‘Thanks so much for ALL your work on behalf of our embattled architectural heritage.”
  • “You do such great things for our community.”
  • “Thank you for all that you do.”
  • “We are impressed with all of the energy and dedication of the Lake Oswego Preservation Society.”
  • “Keep up the good work. Your efforts to preserve our historically significant places and things are appreciated.”
  • “Great work for a great city.”
  • “I’m proud to be a lifetime member of this great community organization.”
  • “Thank you for fighting the fight to save the 1855 Carman House.”
  • “Keep up the amazing work.”
  • “Thanks to you folks for the excellent Classic Houses & History Boat Tour.”
  • “You inspire us all.”

2017 Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • The Society signed the lease for the historic Iron Worker’s Cottage at 40 Wilbur Street and we have transformed this City-owned landmark, the last remaining iron-era residence, into our History Center & Museum. The grand opening was held on Saturday April 8th.
  • Our History Center & Museum was featured on local television. The four-minute On the Go With Joe segment may be viewed by clicking here.
  • We received the City of Lake Oswego’s Historic Preservation Merit Award for our landmark Oregon Supreme Court case which saved the Carman House along with thousands of other historic properties across Oregon.
  • Oregon’s Iron Jubilee: Celebrating the First Iron Furnace on the Pacific Coast was held on Saturday, September 9th from 3:00 to 9:00. It was co-sponsored by the City of Lake Oswego and festivities included a pioneer baseball game, horse-drawn wagon rides, food, bluegrass music, a companion exhibit on the iron industry in our History Center & Museum, and furnace tours. This was the first festival to celebrate Lake Oswego’s history.
  • We added new products to our extensive line of unique Lake Oswego-history related gift items! The Society now offers a retro metal sign featuring the Morris swim park sign which once stood on the southeast end of Oswego Lake. Also, master jeweler Mark David Hoyt created a necklace of the blast furnace in sterling silver—a Society exclusive!

2016 Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • The Society saved the landmark Carter House by proactively finding a new steward for this historic property.
  • The fifth annual Classic Houses & History Boat Tour on Oswego Lake was held on September 10th. Our signature, non-profit fundraiser was completely booked for this fun and informative two-hour tour of the historic homes and sites on the lake shores.
  • The Society made history when the Oregon Supreme Court decided Lake Oswego Preservation Society v. City of Lake Oswego in our favor. This ruling saves Lake Oswego’s oldest house, the 1855 Carman House, from delisting under the state statute in addition to saving 3,200 historic properties across the state. This is the first time the Oregon Supreme Court has heard a historic preservation issue.
  • The Museum of the Oregon Territory’s exhibit, Preserving Places, focused on five significant buildings, including the Carman House, and the Society’s efforts to save it.
  • On March 20th, we released the final poster in our series of Lake Oswego landmarks at a meet the artist reception. This poster features the Jantzen Island boathouse in springtime. All proceeds from the sale of the Paul A. Lanquist designed posters are earmarked for a special preservation fund.
  • We introduced the latest product in our line of Lake Oswego history-related gift items, a “Greetings from Lake Oswego” beach towel. This is a fun way to support the Society and make a splash in or out of the water!

2015 Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • On November 10th, the Oregon Supreme Court heard Lake Oswego Preservation Society v. City of Lake Oswego oral arguments. This landmark case, based on our efforts to save Lake Oswego’s 1855 Carman House, marks the first time a preservation issue has been heard by this high Court. Ten organizations and municipalties supported our efforts as Friends of the Court and an opinion is expected in 2016. The Society is not only working to preserve history, we’re making history!
  • The Society was selected, through a public bidding process, as the non-profit tenant of the historic Iron Company Cottage at 40 Wilbur Street in the Old Town Neighborhood. In 2016, this building will become our home. We are planning exhibits, public open hours, lectures, and other local history-related events
  • Created the Reel Lake Oswego, a film legacy for the community from home movies and footage in the Oregon Historical Society’s collection spanning the 1920s through the 1960s. This project was funded by generous donors along with a $4,000 2014-2015 Clackamas County Community Partnership Program grant. Two free screenings at the Lakewood Center main stage were filled to capacity
  • Saved the historic, but undesignated, Emma Austin House by finding the perfect buyer —  John McCulloch of McCulloch Construction. This remarkable circa 1910 bungalow will be renovated for resale
  • Created a historic photo a day Facebook feed and Hello LO insert for the City in celebration of National Historic Preservation Month
  • We are proud to have the support of 100 members, including 15 lifetime memberships, as well as over 950 “Likes” on our Facebook page
  • Our president, Marylou Colver, received the Excellence in Community Service Award from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution for her historic preservation advocacy
  • Our fourth annual Classic Houses & History Boat Tour was a highly successful event. Some participants waited a year to take this tour and others came from out-of-state
  • The Society was chosen as the recipient of the Western Water Ski Museum’s collection of vintage photographs and skis
  • Our talk at the Museum of the Oregon Territory chronicled the Society’s triumphs and setbacks of our four year effort to save the Carman House, Lake Oswego’s oldest
  • Four different historic walking tours were offered this year through the City of Lake Oswego’s Parks and Recreation summer catalog
  • Created a new presentation entitled: Tryon Creek History: Fires, Freeways, Sewage, and Subdivisions presented to the Friends of Tryon Creek; excerpts will be included in their newsletter

2014 Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • Successfully testified on behalf of saving the 1908 Christie School administration building at Marylhurst
  • Our four-year effort to save the oldest house in Lake Oswego, the 1855 Carman House continues. Our win at the Land Use Board of Appeals was overturned by the Court of Appeals. We are considering an appeal to the Oregon State Supreme Court.
  • We were awarded a $4,000 Clackamas County Community Partnership Program grant for 2014-2015 to help fund “The Reel Lake Oswego,” a project to create a film from vintage home movies of Oswego and Lake Grove in partnership with the Oregon Historical Society and the Lake Oswego Public Library
  • Filled every seat for our third annual Classic Houses & History Boat Tour on Oswego Lake, the Society’s major fundraiser
  • Received an $850 grant from the Lake Oswego Rotary to purchase a computer projector and screen so we can increase the scope of our community outreach
  • Held the second annual historic preservation high school essay contest in partnership with the Lake Oswego Public Library and with scholarship prizes funded by The Bank of Oswego
  • Created an architectural treasure hunt of historic commercial buildings in Lake Grove and the downtown core with funding from a 2012-2013 Clackamas County Community Partnership Program $5,000 grant
  • Created a series of historic walking tours which are offered through the City’s Parks and Recreation Department
  • The 2013-2014 Clackamas County Community Partnership Program $5,000 grant we were awarded was used to fund Lake Oswego’s participation in the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition event
  • Created new local history presentations to enhance the scope of our community outreach. We have been invited to speak to over 25 organizations
  • Launched the third Paul A. Lanquist-designed Lake Oswego poster in our four-season series featuring historic structures. Proceeds are earmarked for a special preservation fund

2013 Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • Launched a new annual event, the historic preservation high school essay contest, to challenge students to consider why preserving buildings matters to the community
  • Advocated on behalf of threatened Landmark properties. Notably, we spearheaded the effort to save Lake Oswego’s oldest house, the 1855 Carman House. City Council removed the historic designation to clear the way for demolition. The Society appealed this decision to the Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals
  • Contributed a four-page insert entitled Cow Tales: A Lighthearted History of Lake Oswego to the City’s newsletter Hello LO
  • Successfully lobbied for a City-funded preservation grant incentive program for Landmark properties
  • The Society joined with the City’s Historic Resources Advisory Board and the Sustainability Advisory Board to host a free public screening of the documentary The Greenest Building
  • Held the second annual Classic Houses and History Boat Tour on Oswego Lake. This is the Society’s signature fundraising event which features over 50 historic homes and sites
  • Advocated to retain and enhance protection for historic resources in Lake Oswego’s comprehensive plan
  • Commissioned renowned northwest artist, Paul A. Lanquist, to create the second in a series of four posters featuring a Lake Oswego’s Landmark home. Sales of these posters are earmarked for our urban conservancy fund
  • The Society became a Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition partner. If this designation is approved by Congress, it will be the first National Heritage Area in Oregon
  • Created additional Lake Oswego gift items which support the work of the Society and diversify our revenue streams

2012 Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • Researched, created, and held the inaugural Classic Houses and History Boat Tour on Oswego Lake
  • Lake Oswego Vignettes: Illiterate Cows to College-Educated Cabbage, written by President Marylou Colver, was published by the History Press. Proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Society
  • Commissioned artist Paul A. Lanquist to create a Lake Oswego poster featuring a Landmark home
  • Began participation in the City’s Fourth of July Star Spangled parade and the Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market
  • Created the Greetings from Lake Oswego postcard and the 1950s retro apron−the first of the Society’s line of unique Lake Oswego history related merchandise
  • Federally designated 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status obtained

2011 Noteworthy Accomplishment

  • Lake Oswego Preservation Society founded!