Fostering current economic development does not require sacrificing our past. Given the community update to the comprehensive plan, we have an opportunity to rethink our approach to historic preservation and recognize the contribution Lake Oswego’s existing historic fabric makes to the local economy and to sustainability.
To fully utilize the potential of Lake Oswego’s built heritage, the Lake Oswego Preservation Society suggests that the following “better by the dozen” concepts be included in the comprehensive plan update:
- Educate the community about the strong relationship between sustainability and preservation.
- Promote rehabilitation of historic buildings, which contributes more, in the long term, to the local economy than new construction.
- Actively encourage partnerships among municipalities (city, county, and state) and local businesses and organizations specializing in building reuse.
- Enhance the protection and retention of Landmark properties by strengthening our code language.
- Encourage the use of conservation easements to protect historic properties.
- Protect National Register properties the same as Landmark properties under the City’s Historic Preservation code.
- Provide incentives for relocating buildings within the community as an alternative to demolition.
- Prohibit demolition by neglect.
- Reexamine the criterion for delisting an historic property and make them more objective than the current method.
- Require deconstruction on any remodel or new construction project costing more than a certain to-be-determined amount.
- Require that photographic documentation be submitted with a demolition permit application for buildings over 50 years old.
- Actively encourage homeowners to document and share the history of their homes, streets, and neighborhoods via workshops, storytelling sessions, photo contests, etc.
October 2011 The Historic Carman House Letter to the Editor
According to the real estate listing “This gorgeous piece of property with an old Farmhouse (as is) is ready for development or imagination for a private home on 1.25. R-5 zoning allows many options.” The one option it may not allow for is the preservation of what is possibly the oldest and one of the most historic homes in Lake Oswego.
The Carman House was built in the mid-1850s, prior to Oregon becoming a state. Few homes from the territorial period survive in Lake Oswego or even statewide. Carman built it with the help of fellow pioneer, C. W. Bryant. The house was constructed for Carman and his bride, Lucretia Allyn Gurney, the first couple to be married in Oswego. Historian Mary Goodall described it as “an outstanding structure of the times.”
Carman was a millwright and is credited with building the first wooden dam on the lake and the first school.
This historic house has been in our community for over 160 years, the span of five generations. It is one of only 43 homes designated by the City as a landmark; it is a scarce and irreplaceable part of our past. A public hearing is required to alter or demolish a city landmark. Hopefully this safeguard will protect the property as intended.
Carman Drive should not be the only tribute to this pioneer family. Preservation of the home would allow their legacy to continue and would add a new owner’s legacy of stewardship. Care of the Carman House, as well as Lake Oswego’s built heritage, is an individual and a community responsibility. Let us not allow this irreplaceable resource to be lost.