The Lake Oswego Preservation Society’s mission is: To support Lake Oswego’s historic fabric through advocacy and education. The Society is an all-volunteer organization. We do not pay staff and we do not own a building so 100 percent of the donations we receive are dedicated to our mission.
Advocacy is the most challenging aspect of the Lake Oswego Preservation Society’s mission. We firmly believe that if we don’t advocate on behalf of threatened landmark properties we are not doing our job as a non-profit with a mission of historic preservation.
We have received recognition, both locally and statewide, for our historic preservation advocacy on behalf of Lake Oswego landmarks. In word, and deed, we honor our motto: “Advocate. Educate. Celebrate!” No other organization does what we do for Lake Oswego.
Since our founding in 2011, we have testified at every public hearing regarding proposed major alterations or delisting of properties on the City of Lake Oswego’s Landmark Designation List. In this timeframe, we have submitted both written and oral testimony on behalf of five historic houses; there are only 43 landmark homes in Lake Oswego.
We also advocate for all threatened landmarks, not just homes. An example of our land use advocacy saved the 1908 Christie School on the Marylhurst Campus. This building was originally a Catholic orphanage for girls and it has national, state, and local significance. The Society successfully retained the building’s landmark designation which prevents it from being demolished.
We also believe that our actions speak louder than words. Additional advocacy work of the Society includes:
1. We worked from 2011 to 2016 save the 1855 Carman House, the oldest house in Lake Oswego and the Oregon Supreme Court ultimately ruled in our favor
2. We lobbied on behalf of maintenance incentives for landmark homeowners
3. We worked to protect and enhance language in the City’s comprehensive plan regarding historic resources
4. We serve as one of the City-offered resources for documenting historic resources
5. We serve as one of the City-offered resources for documenting historic buildings slated for demolition
6. We are working to change code requirements regarding demolitions
7. We submit letters to the editor and citizen’s view articles to maintain public awareness of preservation issues
8. We speak to groups regarding the social, economic, and environmental benefits of building retention
9. In partnership with the City, we co-hosted a free community screening of the documentary The Greenest Building which examines preservation’s triple bottom line benefits
10. We have made presentations to over 30 local groups and organizations
- Provide guidance and support for preservation opportunities on local, state and national levels.
- Collaborate with local municipalities to strengthen recognition of historic resource status and the opportunities such status provides.
We have built a foundation of knowledge based on painstaking and time-consuming research. It’s easy, but often inaccurate, to repeat what others have written. Our publications and community outreach are based on information found in primary sources such as census records, first-hand newspaper accounts, and original photographs. We have used this accurate information in many creative ways designed to engage the public. Here are a few of our creations:
1. The annual Classic Houses & History Boat Tour on Oswego Lake. This unique tour features entertaining information on over 50 homes and historic sites
2. The book Lake Oswego Vignettes: Illiterate Cows to College-Educated Cabbage consisting of fun and offbeat stories from our past
3. Historic walking tours, including a unique look at our downtown commercial buildings
4. Inserts for the City of Lake Oswego newsletter, Hello LO. For example, one entitled Cow Tales tells the history of Oswego through the changing role cows played in our past
5. Presentations on local history which have been given to over 30 community groups and organizations
6. Contributions to the Oregon Encyclopedia
7. Exhibits such as the 20-panel history of Lake Oswego neighborhoods entitled Building Blocks
8. We created a documentary entitled The Reel Lake Oswego from home movies and footage in the collection of the Oregon Historical Society.
- Outreach to focus groups aligned with sustainable communities. Included are real estate, planning/development, local businesses and business associations, local economic development/tourism organizations, and neighborhoods.