NH: 1922 Oswego Lake Villas

The First East End Lakeside Development


Nelson’s boat rental

The lake was stump-filled and unattractive to all but curious children during the iron era. The realization that the lake held recreational potential was a watershed moment in the town’s history. In the early 1900s the lake’s allure began with fishing. The increasing number of visitors prompted Alexander S. Pattullo, representing the Oregon Iron & Steel Company who owned the lake, to offer David Nelson the job of caretaker. The company also leased lake frontage to Nelson for a boat rental concession at the rate of one dollar a month per rowboat. The enterprising family rented their first boat in 1904 at the south end of the lake. By 1910 the Nelsons installed the town’s first telephone because of growing business demands. Four years later the Red Electric trains brought an influx of Portlanders on Sunday outings. The Nelsons responded by adding an ice cream stand and tent cottage rentals. As the beauty of the lake was recognized it attracted more picnickers and swimmers. In the 1920s droves of people strolling the town clad in bathing suits prompted City Councilors to ban the practice. Nelson’s concessions were operated as McMillan’s Resort from 1924 to 1937 and lastly as Morris’ Lake Oswego Swim. In 1957 the City signed a $200,000 option to buy the swim resort. City councilors opted not to pursue funding and the Bay Roc apartments eventually supplanted the hopes for a public park on the lake.

The first Oregon Iron & Steel Company development on the lake’s east end was located west of McMillian’s Resort and the dam. Lots were platted and marketed by Atchison & Allen. Architect Charles W. Ertz, one of many who were drawn to the lake, planned his handsome summer cottage at the end of Lake Front Road in 1925. The same year noted architect Richard Sundeleaf designed a Tudor Revival style residence for Dr. Walter Black, a leading proctologist, and his family. The Black House is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Harold P. Davidson, an Oregon Portland Cement Company employee for forty years, and his wife Leona constructed their home in the International style. The avant-garde design incorporated a curvilinear bay illuminated by glass blocks, a flat roof, and a smooth skin of concrete. The English Cottage style house on Horseshoe Curve is at the opposite end of the architectural spectrum. Arlo Huddleston, a building contractor, and his wife Ruby constructed this home in the late 1930s.

This area was not fully developed until after World War II. One-time mayor of Lake Oswego, C. Herald Campbell and his wife Virginia, desirous of a rural setting in which to raise their daughters, moved to Maple Street in 1951. Their Norwegian elkhounds delighted in escaping the confines of the yard to dash to the nearby creek. During the 1975 physical resources inventory it was determined that many natural features, including this creek, were unnamed hence it was christened “Lost Dog Creek.”