Mountain Park, Nature’s Neighborhood
Governor Tom McCall, the featured speaker at the August 17, 1970 dedication, remarked, “Mountain Park is the most exquisite form of mass living yet seen by man.” Today it is home to one quarter of Lake Oswego’s population. The Planned Unit Development began construction in the late 1960s and it was destined to become the largest homeowners association in the United States and it remains one of the largest. The annexation of Mountain Park in 1969 eventually doubled Lake Oswego’s tax base and population. A marketing slogan of that era was, “There’s a new town in town.”
The forward-looking development was the brainchild of Carl Halvorson who also developed Black Butte Ranch and Little Whale Cove. A variety of housing types from apartments to retirement facilities were built to accommodate all ages. A recreational center with a community swimming pool, an equestrian center, offices, paths, open spaces, shops, greenways, public art, natural areas, and more were integral to Halvorson’s vision. One innovation is an extensive 15-mile pathway system constructed to minimize the need for curbs and sidewalks and to take pedestrians and bicyclists off of the roadway.
The land comprising Mountain Park was originally part of the John Stephenson and Waters Carman Donation Land Claims. Halvorson purchased 600 of the total 700 acres from the Peter Kerr estate and named Kerr Parkway after him. Kerr had owned the land for 50 years and had used it for grazing and horseback riding. Shakespeare, philosophers, and other great thinkers inspired some of the distinctive street names throughout the development.
A European-style shopping center just off of Kerr Parkway was envisioned, but never built. The Oswego Towne Square shopping center on the corner of Boones Ferry Road and Monroe Parkway was constructed as part of the development. The historic Robert James Irving carpenter gothic style farmhouse dating from 1877 was razed in 1970 to make way for the center. At the time, a prominent civic leader, Mary Goodall, formed a group to fight demolition of this landmark. This organization is now known as the Oswego Heritage Council.
Mountain Park is the only Lake Oswego neighborhood built on a dormant volcano. Mount Sylvania is part of the Boring Lava Flow that occurred one to two million years ago. It is one of the few Lake Oswego neighborhoods that haven’t experienced teardowns and, at 958 feet, it has the highest elevation in the City.