By Carolyn Purcell
Museums and archives have long been challenged to find balance between public access and preservation. Long-term preservation concerns often lead to stringent and restrictive public access policies that can impede the enrichment of the people the museums and libraries serve. Finding a balance that meets the needs of both preservation and access is the ultimate goal.
Digital technology has broached the preservation vs. access divide by offering a workable solution: the best preservation actually offers the best access. Digital copies of photographs and documents provide the ability to offer safe off-site storage of virtual copies and have images that can be viewed by anyone at anytime via the internet. This access does not in any way diminish the preservation of the originals.
Two noteworthy collaborative projects in our community in the past few years have offered solutions to long-standing preservation vs. access concerns. Through the assistance of Oregon Heritage Commission and Oregon State University Libraries we now have high-resolution scans of the entire 10,000+ images of the Wasco County Pioneer Association photograph collection and the images are available to everyone on the Oregon State University Digital Collections website.
Another very important resource for not only the community, but for the state and region, is the newspaper collection owned by Eagle Newspapers that has long been stored at The Dalles Chronicle office. This collection of papers dates back to 1864, chronicling the news of eastern Oregon. Realizing how vulnerable the collection was, the publisher began restricting access to it some years ago. Through funding from Oregon Heritage Commission and with the assistance of University of Oregon Libraries, the newspapers have now been re-microfilmed for inclusion in the Oregon Digital Newspaper Library Project. The new, better quality microfilm has been digitized to allow key-word searches and is available to everyone for free!
It is a pleasure working side-by-side with those who hold a passionate interest in Oregon’s cultural heritage. By employing the tools of digital access, heritage preservation is advancing at the velocity of the high speed internet.
Carolyn Purcell is the Executive Director of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. Visit the Columbia Gorge Discover Center website at www.gorgediscovery.org
Portland’s Rinehart Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December of 2013. Until a few years ago, the building suffered extreme neglect, but its history is incredibly significant.
The Rinehart Building was constructed in 1910 along an important streetcar line in Portland’s historic Albina neighborhood. It is notable as one of the few remaining commercial buildings in Albina associated with the social and cultural fabric of the African American community. In 1939 Albina was already home to the majority of Portland’s African American population. The number of African Americans in Portland swelled during WWII to fill the large number of war-time shipbuilding jobs, and discriminatory housing practices funneled these new residents to the Albina area. After the war, African American-owned businesses along Williams Avenue flourished. The Rinehart Building was home to a number of African
American-owned enterprises, including the Cleo-Lilliann Social Club. Begun in the 1950s, the Club served as a community and charitable organization that provided entertainment, social support, and fundraising, and was a forum for community activism. The Club hosted many notable African American musicians, such as B. B. King and George Foreman. When the Club closed in 2001 it was considered to be one of the oldest African American social organizations of its kind in Oregon.
The Browns, who own the building, committed to its restoration. They got a little help in the big project from our Diamonds in the Rough grant program designed to help bring back lost historic character.
Brandon Brown shared his thoughts about the value of the grant on the project.
“The Diamonds in the Rough grant really helped us in completing the arduous project that the Rinehart building came to be. We purchased a 1910 structure which was as historically colorful as it was neglected. The biggest piece of our budget was the rehabilitation of the masonry facade. We had some beautiful aesthetic brick to work with, but the costs quickly increased as the coverage of the repointing became more exhaustive and the cleaning of the brick more intense than forecast. Additionally, we had to reconstruct the entire cornice that ran 120 linear feet from a single photograph and install an entirely new storefront.”
“The grant really helped with our additional expenses. Ultimately we were able to produce a wonderfully historically accurate facade and achieved a spot on the National Historic Register. We’re really proud of our project and thank you for your support.”
The deadline for Diamonds in the Rough grant applications is coming soon, March 31.
By Kuri Gill, Grants and Outreach Coordinator, Oregon Heritage
Has your organization experienced any of these situations?
- Your collections storage room is piled high with boxes, papers and loose objects.
- Archives materials, books and artifacts are stored on the floor.
- A donor came into your facility looking for a donated object you knew you had, but you couldn’t access it.
- You feel guilty because you know you need a disaster plan, but don’t know where to begin.
- You know the right storage materials to use, but the whole thing seems too overwhelming.
- You want a little collections care advice, but you don’t want to be judged or talked down to.
- You have a disaster plan, but haven’t started implementation.
If you’ve experienced one of these seven situations, then a Mentor from the Oregon Heritage MentorCorps might be right for you!
The Oregon Heritage MentorCorps is a wonderful group of trained volunteers that have stepped up to share their time, enthusiasm and expertise to help nonprofit and government organizations that have historic archives, books and artifacts.
Mentors can offer advice, training and facilitation to support the care and accessibility of collections and help organizations prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies. The Oregon Heritage MentorCorps is designed to support the preservation of those objects and build relationships among the professionals and volunteers working with them.
Learn how to connect with a Mentor and more about the Oregon Heritage MentorCorps at www.mindyourcollections.org.
By Kyle Jansson
Some days, in the tidal rush of current events, we will forget birthdays for the important people in our lives. For Oregonians and millions of other people around the world, there is one important birthday this month not to overlook. It’s the centennial on January 17 of the birth of poet William Stafford.
The Oregon Heritage Commission has designated 2014 as a Statewide Celebration of Stafford’s birth, only the seventh celebration the commission has declared. And, oh, what a party it will be, with dozens of events taking place around the state to celebrate the man, his thoughts, and the thousands of poems he wrote.
Stafford’s poetry is alive, even though he died 20 years ago. New books of his work are being published this year. New generations are being introduced to the words and thoughts of one of the most prolific and admired American writers of the 20th century.
His short bio: Born in Kansas, a pacifist and a conscientious objector, Stafford moved to Oregon in 1948 and taught for more than 30 years at Lewis and Clark College, which houses his archive. He won many prestigious literary awards, including the National Book Award and in 1970 served in a position now called the US Poet Laureate.
His personal impact: Meetings I attend don’t have poetry on the agenda. However, several times people have been so moved by one of Stafford’s poems that they share it with everyone. My favorite Stafford poem: “The Dream of Now.”
So overlook that tidal wave of “musts” and meetings for a few moments. Attend one of the many Stafford events this year. They will be taking place everywhere in Oregon as part of the Oregon Reads program in more than 100 libraries. Even if you think you’ve read everything he’s written, find new inspiration by reading one of the new books or re-reading a favorite one from the past.
Find yourself in a tidal rush of thoughts and feelings from Stafford poetry.
Kyle Jansson is the coordinator for the Oregon Heritage Commission.
By Liza Mickle
In Portland, and potentially statewide, most unreinforced masonry (URM)* buildings have not been seismically upgraded. Building owners face various challenges and obstacles. Many perceive there is no incentive to perform seismic upgrades, and they likely would not do so without incentives because it doesn’t make financial sense. For owners of buildings that are underutilized, have fallen on hard times, or are used for storage or other lower-hazard occupancy, it is generally too costly to make full improvements without some sort of subsidy. At the same time, economic prosperity and development pressures in many Portland neighborhoods has put older buildings at risk, rather than making their rehabilitation more likely. The potential for demolition and replacement of these types of buildings is a real concern. The Portland URM Building Survey report is intended to provide a springboard for considering the wider network of issues and calls for strategies to address these issues.The Portland URM Building Survey Project focuses on unreinforced masonry buildings in neighborhood hubs and corridors outside Portland’s central city. The project includes survey work and analysis of issues and threats to older and historic buildings (generally defined as over 50 years old). Overall, approximately 450 URMs were surveyed under this project, using data provided by the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS). From the survey group, four building types were selected for further analysis and individual case studies, and a technical report was prepared. The project began in March 2013 and was completed in September 2013. It was funded by a small matching grant from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
Survey work – The first phase was an abbreviated (windshield) survey of approximately 450 URMs in eight selected areas east and north of Portland’s Central City. The areas represent a geographical distribution of neighborhood centers or hubs, “main streets” and commercial corridors, as informed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Portland Plan and current work on the City’s Comprehensive Plan update. The eight areas include portions of commercial areas in Southeast Portland (SE Foster Rd., SE Stark, SE Milwaukie); Northeast Portland (Sandy Blvd. and NE Alberta); and North Portland (N Lombard). As a follow-up to the abbreviated survey, a Reconnaissance Level Survey (RLS) was completed for over 40 selected buildings, meeting standards established by the Oregon SHPO.
Case studies — Using the survey results, case studies were prepared for four typical building types found in the URM group: 1) one-story commercial buildings; 2) two-story mixed-use commercial buildings; 3) multi-story residential buildings, and 4) special-purpose buildings. The purpose of the case studies is to generally assess the existing buildings, review building deficiencies, if any, and discuss rehabilitation strategies and potential cost factors.
Technical report — A technical report, “North and Eastside Portland Unreinforced Masonry Building Survey Project Report,” generally describes the relative seismic performance of different types of masonry buildings and highlights key issues, economic, planning, and other limitations or challenges. It provides a springboard for considering the wider network of issues with unreinforced masonry buildings, helping us understand the issues are citywide (and also statewide), and strategies are needed to address these issues.
View the whole report at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/464830
* Unreinforced masonry (URM) is defined as masonry that has roof or floor loading above 200 pounds per lineal foot and less than a certain minimum amount of reinforcement. Masonry walls that are under-reinforced are therefore included.
Liza Mickle is a Planner with the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability
We at Oregon Heritage are following the “Oregon. We Love Dreamers” motto and thinking big for the New Year! Here are a few of our hopes for 2014:
- Two more Oregon Heritage All-Star Communities designated.
- Four more Oregon Heritage Traditions designated.
- The Oregon Cultural Trust will surpass its $4,000,000 goal and raise $5,000,000!
- Six more newspapers added to the University of Oregon Digital Newspaper Project.
- 30 properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, to surpass 2,000 total listings in Oregon!
- The Coos Historical & Maritime Museum opens to grand fanfare!
- Pass 500 likes on our Oregon Heritage Facebook page. Like us now!
- Voters in Crook, Klamath and other counties will approve public financial support for their county museums.
- Conditions of Oregon’s historic collections are improved with the help of the Oregon Heritage MentorCorps.
- Each of the more than 1,000 heritage organizations in Oregon embrace and implement the goals of the 2014-19 Oregon Heritage Plan.
- The Settlement-Era Properties Multiple Property Document is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Oregon Trail Multiple Property Document is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- One new Heritage Bulletin posted to the our per quarter (tell us what topics you want!)
- Oregon Main Street adds one more Preforming Main Street community and two new Transforming Main Street communities.
- The possible reorganization of the Oregon State Library, the Oregon State Archives and related organizations means historic records are better preserved and more easily accessed by the public.
Happy New Year from all of us at Oregon Heritage!
Here at Oregon Heritage, we’re taking a look back at 2013 and have found some really neat heritage highlights we’d like to share. Of course, all of these activities happened because of YOUR great work, and we hope you take some to time to celebrate your action!
- The renewal of the Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit. Show your support by making a donation!
- The City of Fossil embracing its heritage and saving its historic school gym.
- The start of the Oregon Connecting to Collections project, which trained more than 150 people in collections care and disaster preparedness and response, and recruited more than 35 heritage mentors.
- The addition of 21 properties to the National Register of Historic Places including the Independent School, Joseph Henry Moser Barn, Oak Hills Historic District, Lamson Ranch, Enterprise Public Library, and Petersen Rock Garden.
- The completion of a massive survey of 300 Settlement Era properties in the Willamette Valley along with a historic context. Restore Oregon is taking action to save these properties.
- The merging of the Oregon Encyclopedia with the Oregon History Project at the Oregon Historical Society.
- The University of Oregon Digital Newspaper project adding 263,643 new pages, 32 new papers and nine new cities to its website.
- The Astoria Regatta and the Junction City Scandinavian Festival being designated Oregon Heritage Traditions.
- Cottage Grove, Oregon City, Roseburg and Salem becoming Heritage All-Star Communities. Bend, Echo and Toledo are working toward their designations.
- The Coos Historical and Maritime Museum becoming our third Regional Heritage Technical Assistance partner along with Tamastslikt Cultural Institute and Southern Oregon Historical Society.
- The Oregon Century Farm and Ranch Program giving 10 farms or ranches operated by the same family for more than 100-years designations as Century Farms. One farm even got Sesquicentennial (150 years) status!
- Oregon’s three Heritage Fellows, Patrick Lozar (University of Oregon), Kelly Yelverton (Lewis and Clark College), and Gareth Stacke (Lewis and Clark College) who researched different topics of Oregon’s heritage.
- Oregon hosting the Association of Gravestone Studies national conference. This was a great way to share the value of Oregon heritage, even though it is often considered “new” by East coast standards.
- Astoria becoming a Performing Main Street level community.
- After years of work, Whiteside Theater in Corvallis completing its marquee and opening for business.
- The Lincoln County Historical Society opening the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center in Newport.
- The Coos Historical and Maritime Museum breaking ground on its new site.
- The Oregon Jewish Museum, in partnership with the Immigration Refugee Community Organization, showcasing the shared experiences of two waves of immigrants who arrived in Oregon a century apart: Russian and Eastern European Jews in the early 1900s and contemporary immigrants from Burma, Cambodia, Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, and Somalia. It brought new audiences and understandings to heritage.
- The History Museum of Hood River reopening to rave reviews following massive renovation.
- The Cultural Landscape Report for Salem’s Lord & Schryver Garden winning first place in a national competition sponsored by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscape Survey.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Oregon Heritage!
By Diana Painter
Historic and cultural landscapes, an important part of our historic legacy, do not always get the attention they deserve. Gardens, parks and plazas are often recognized as important public spaces, but they may also be historic resources. And properties like farms and ranches, theme parks and subdivisions are also part of Oregon’s historic environment. Now, the Oregon SHPO is pleased to announce a number of recent milestones in our effort to build recognition and support for historic and cultural landscapes.
The Halprin Open Space Sequence, a series of public plazas in downtown Portland designed by the late Lawrence Halprin, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in March 2013. It was recognized by Charles Birnbaum, president of the Boston-based Cultural Landscape Foundation, in an article in the Huffington Post on December 4, 2013, where it was called out as one of four important modern landscapes listed in the National Register this year. Another recent listing is Petersen Rock Garden, outside of Redmond, Oregon. This unique site, which has operated as a tourist destination since about 1938, was the top feature in the National Park Service’s “Weekly List” of new National Register properties for the week of November 8, 2013. It also earned a spot on their Facebook page. We hope that this recognition brings support for the Garden and their fundraising efforts.
A third type of landscape, familiar to everyone but perhaps not as a landscape, is the post-war subdivision. The Oak Hills Historic District of Beaverton is a Planned Unit Development, an innovative type of master planned community that incorporated open spaces and public amenities in its planning. It was listed in the National Register in July 2013. It is not only the first post-World War II suburb in Oregon to be listed in the National Register, with building dates of 1965 to 1974, it is one of the ‘youngest’ post-war subdivisions in the country to be so recognized.
Finally, we are pleased that Salem’s Lord & Schryver Garden has won a national award for their cultural landscape documentation, a project funded in part by an Oregon Cultural Heritage Grant. The Home Garden of Lord & Schryver, the first woman-owned landscape architecture firm in the Pacific Northwest, won first place in the annual HALS Challenge, sponsored by the National Park Services’ Historic American Landscape Survey program. The Oregon SHPO will be assisting the Lord & Schryver Conservancy with their National Register nomination for the garden in the forthcoming year and is pleased to see attention brought to this important historic property, which is part of the Gaiety Hill/Bush’s Pasture Park Historic District.
Over eighty historic parks, plazas and gardens in Oregon are listed in the National Register. These include city parks, state parks, urban plazas, campuses, trails and scenic overlooks, public and private gardens, and open spaces associated with historic sites. Twenty-nine cemeteries, another type of historic landscape, are listed. Cultural landscapes in Oregon such as recreation sites (campgrounds, resorts, and baths) and agricultural resources (farmsteads, ranches, dairies and orchards) are also listed in the National Register. What are the important historic landscapes in your community? We in the National Register program are interested in helping bring recognition to these important historic properties.
Diana Painter is an architectural historian with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), part of Oregon Heritage.
By Daren Doss
We have owned Alderbrook Station, the last intact netshed on the lower Columbia River, for over 10 years. The roof had always leaked and was getting worse to the point of emergency, but the task to replace it was daunting. Finding the Preserving Oregon Grant gave us both the financial assistance and support of confidence that we needed to tackle this important project and continue to save the building.
We had to be very smart about how to use the money so that any modifications gave us the most long term weather protection with the least physical change to the appearance and character of the original building. In addition to repairing leaky portions of the upper torchdown roof, we replaced about 2,700 square feet of corrugated roofing with a material that was like-for-like. We opted to add a plywood substrate as another water barrier and further strengthen the building structurally against the strong winds it must endure. Finding a compatible fiberglass skylight panel infill was challenging, but we managed to install 4 new skylights in a better configuration than what was existing. Consequentially, the natural daylight inside the netshed is a vast improvement and has made working in it much more enjoyable.
It has been a year now since we did this project, and the roof replacement and repair has held up very nicely. The inside of the netshed is dry and the interior wood material/structure is protected from rot for many years to come.
Maintaining these old buildings is an arduous and never-ending job, not to mention very expensive. The Preserving Oregon Grant is a very important resource to us as other financial models do not apply in up-keeping a building that is not a commercial enterprise. Without this grant, this project would not have been possible for us. Thank you!
Daren Doss is the owner of chadbourne + doss architects in Seattle, Washington and Astoria, Oregon. View more photos of Alderbrook Station at www.chadbournedoss.com