There are presently two historic houses for sale and just sold in Lake Oswego that are on the City’s Landmark Designation List: The Voss-Brown house at 491 4th St in the First Addition, and the Mathiesen-Worthington house at 885 McVey in the South Oswego neighborhood. The latter property is additionally on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you are reading this entry, you most likely are a fan of older houses and are an advocate for retaining as many as possible in our community. To that end, we as preservationists must do everything we can when a historic resource comes on the market. Publicizing them on our blog is a good start. But we must also talk them up out in the community wherever we go. The reason I am living in the designated Bondell house is because I learned about it word of mouth from a LOPS Boardmember. I am sure there are many others in similar situations who just need to be informed when historic house come available. Especially now, as the City Government of Portland has become indifferent (some would say hostile) to preservation, there is an untapped market of dissatisfied Portland homeowners who may very well find a good fit in a Lake Oswego historic property. Part of the problem is that Lake Oswego is not known, in general terms, for its richness of historic structures. As a Lake Oswego newbie, I had no idea at first about the depth and richness of our city’s heritage. I am constantly coming across buildings and neighborhoods that have such interesting stories to tell. It’s been a joyful discovery. We need to share our enthusiasm with those beyond our borders.
The Mathiesen-Worthington House at 885 McVey Ave has already sold, proving that historic properties draw interest quickly. If there is one historic house in town that we all have noticed at one time or another, this is probably it.
It sits on a small knoll going uphill on McVey Ave. It’s 2-story double veranda is unique in Lake Oswego, and perhaps the Portland Metro area. One might draw parallels to the verandas of the celebrated historic Wolf Creek Inn, just off I-5 in Southern Oregon. Also, the pioneering Monteith homestead house in Albany.
Though the style of the house is considered “vernacular” it’s double veranda, turned column porch posts, and some rudimentary “gingerbread” trim elevate its style to a more locally significant level.
The date of construction is not known but circumstantial evidence dates it to 1875-1885. Sources of Worthington descendants however, place construction at 1870 or even earlier. It appears to have been the first house built in the South Oswego subdivision, the second oldest neighborhood in the city. (After Old Town but before First Addition.).
James Worthington moved to “Oswego” as it was then known, in the 1880s (perhaps 1870s). He was a builder by trade but came to Oregon to work in the Iron Furnace (but apparently built this house too). Another Worthington from New York, came after him, leading a party of iron workers across the continent. Such a proud history. Such a proud and significant house!
The Brown-Vose house is located at 791 4th St. across from the library. It sits on the Southeast corner of E St. and has decorative covered entryways on both street frontages. It is part of the First Addition neighborhood which was first platted in 1867. The Brown-Vose house was built in 1885 for T.J. Brown and his wife who lived there for 30 years. There have only been a handful of owners since. One owner, Irma Vose, lived there for 50 years from 1920-1970. It is one of the oldest homes in the First Addition Neighborhood.
The style of the house would be considered Vernacular, featuring simple forms and details. But just as in the aforementioned Mathiessen-Worthington house, stylish Queen Anne details make it a very special addition to Lake Oswego’s collection of 19nth Century houses. The turned columns on the two entryways, spindal friezes, jig-saw cutouts (aka gingerbread), and the diamond shingles on the E St gable end, are all Queen Anne features applied to the vernacular form.
This property may also be sold soon. The prospective buyers seem well-intentioned toward the historic home. (thanks too to Boardmember Rachel Verdick for her research on the BROWN-VOSE house.).
All right preservationists, let’s always be keeping our eyes and ears out for historic properties as they enter the marketplace. And just remember, if it hadn’t have been for LOPS Boardmember Denise Bartelt, I would not have known about the historic Bondell house, and would not have had the life-changing experience that that has become. Never underestimate the power of “spreading-the-word” out to the world.