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Plan for emergencies now so your collections don’t go up in smoke.

August 28, 2015
Wildfire in Oregon - Image Courtesy of BLM and Wikimedia

Wildfire in Oregon – Image Courtesy of BLM and Wikimedia

The Northwest is on fire. Governor Kate Brown recently called the National Guard to assist an army of firefighters from all around the world. Many of the wildfires are creeping dangerously near towns and cities. Hopefully we will get a little relief this weekend with heavy rains but those of who care for Oregon’s heritage and collections shouldn’t just hope for the best. It is important to think ahead.

Think quick: a disaster is looming, what is the most important item in your collection to get to safety? Ok, how would you do it? Comment to let us know.

Never underestimate the importance of disaster planning. Take a moment in the next few days to create a basic plan for what to do if your museum, collection or historic place is threatened. The Pocket Response Emergency Plan is a good first step in this process and only takes minutes to complete. Once you have a PrEP phone tree, buy supplies and start considering a more comprehensive disaster plan or at least figure out your collection priorities.

Obviously staff and family are the most important thing to secure but what important piece of Oregon’s history would you save next? Think about it now so you can focus on getting it to safety if a fire, flood or other disaster draws near.

For more information and guidance on diaster preparedness and collections go to:

Trees of Knowledge

August 21, 2015
From Stumptown to Treetown by David-Paul Hedburg

From Stumptown to Treetown by David-Paul Hedburg

We like to think our Oregon Heritage Fellowship plants the seeds of great thinkers in Oregon history. One of our 2015 Heritage Fellows spent time researching planters of downtown Portland’s lush environs.

Portland State graduate student David-Paul Hedberg used the $2000 Oregon Heritage Fellowship to do research on indigenous environmental activist Wilson Charley. After winning the scholarship the environmental historian used his knowledge of nature and history to write From Stumptown to Tree Town: A field guide for interpreting Portland’s history through its heritage trees. The guide, written for Portland Parks and Recreation, is a ten stop walking tour of downtown Portland’s landmark plants. From the massive Copper Beech outside PSU’s main library to the garden plants of former estate’s, Hedburg uses each tree to give readers a glimpse of Portland’s founding families, growth as a city and natural environment. The guide is a free download and perfect for anyone looking to take a stroll and learn more about the city.

If you know a similarly talented student of Oregon’s Heritage let them know about the 2016 Oregon Heritage Fellowship.

Check out Portland Parks and Recreation’s website to download From Stumptown to Tree Town and learn more about the city’s Heritage Tree program.

Summer Staff in Ontario

August 3, 2015
Paden Vargo and Savanah Herrell - Oregon Heritage's 2015 Summer Staff

Paden Vargo and Savanah Herrell – Oregon Heritage’s 2015 Summer Staff

In Mid-July, two Oregon Heritage Summer Staff traveled to Ontario, Oregon. They set up a field office in the local coffee shop and spent a week supporting Revitalize Ontario! the local downtown revitalization organization. Each summer Oregon Heritage recruits Historic Preservation students to go around the state supporting the efforts of Oregon Main Street communities. When these staff members go to a community, they typically aim to provide basic information to the community about their buildings and offer support to the local business owners.

The main task of the Summer Staff in Ontario was surveying historic buildings in the downtown area. What this means is staff members walk Ontario’s downtown streets looking at buildings, photographing them and assessing their historic integrity. Additionally, they met with local community members to understand which buildings they thought were important. They also met with business owners to help them make small changes to improve their storefronts. The trip to Ontario was meant to give community members a leg-up when planning their revitalization.
Staff members drank great coffee and got to know wonderful community members. They are currently writing a report that will make its way back to Ontario with recommendations for the future. This assistance is available to communities participating in the Oregon Main Street Program.

For more information on the Main Street Program go to:

Oregon Street in Downtown Ontario

Oregon Street in Downtown Ontario

By Savannah Herrell, 2015 Summer Staff at Oregon Heritage.

It’s a party and you’re invited!

July 24, 2015

The National Historic Preservation Act turns 50 in 2016 and to celebrate, we want to recognize Oregon’s historic buildings!

Oregon has over 2,000 individual properties – buildings, sites, even trails, bridges and statues – listed in the National Register. The National Register, which is maintained by the National Park Service under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, is the nation’s official list of places deemed worthy of preservation for their importance to American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

Does your building have an important birthday in 2016 too? The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office is inviting property owners whose buildings will be 100 years old, 150 years old, or even 50 years old to consider nominating their property for listing in the National Register in 2016. It takes about a year to list a property after a nomination is submitted to this office. For a property owner, the advantages of listing a building in the National Register include eligibility for tax credit programs, greater eligibility for grants, and leniency in application of the building code.

Get in on the celebration! Contact Tracy Zeller (, (503) 986-0690) at the State Historic Preservation Office to find out whether your property may be eligible for listing in the National Register and for more details.

The W. S. Gilbert House in Milwaukee will turn 100 years old in 2016. This house is eligible for listing in the National Register for its association with Reverend Gilbert, who served as a military chaplain in the Philippines, Mexico and France, for which he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre. The house is also important as an excellent example of the Arts and Crafts style, designed by renowned architect Ellis F. Lawrence.

The W. S. Gilbert House in Milwaukee will turn 100 years old in 2016. This house is eligible for listing in the National Register for its association with Reverend Gilbert, who served as a military chaplain in the Philippines, Mexico and France, for which he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre. The house is also important as an excellent example of the Arts and Crafts style, designed by renowned architect Ellis F. Lawrence.

Organizing the Soul of a City

July 7, 2015
Monuments in Mosier Cemetery

Tombstones in Mosier’s historic cemetery

The City of Mosier’s two historic cemeteries are beloved by the community and serve as vital public gathering spaces where residents form strong connections to Mosier history and to their community. For almost a century the cemetery management was a labor of love performed exclusively by volunteers. But in 2013 the City stepped up to plate to take over this enormous responsibility and found itself struggling to maintain a record keeping system comprised of three notebooks stuffed with conflicting maps and information and a large shoebox full of documents and scraps of very old notes.

In 2014 the City of Mosier applied for and received a Historic Cemetery Grant from the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries, which provided the financial assistance that the City needed to undertake the massive project of getting all of these old records organized and uploaded onto an online software system.

With the help of a nationally renowned consultant, Sally Donovan and Associates, the City of Mosier City Staff and a core group of volunteers developed a management and record keeping system that now allows City Staff to efficiently manage these two active cemeteries. This system also preserves all cemetery historic documents, photos, and records and makes them publicly accessible via the internet through the online software system.

From November 2014 through February 2015, the volunteers and city staff logged over 20 hours each person working to record the State Road cemetery data. But in February there were still many records left to be entered. The City Manager recruited three more interested volunteers and held a half day workshop on February 26th to train these new volunteers. The three new volunteers logged 30 hours total to complete the entire State Road Data entry on March 27th, 2015.

This project engaged and empowered Mosier Citizens to work together with the City to preserve the history of our community and our cemeteries. City Staff also gained the knowledge, organization, and skills needed to manage our two active historic cemeteries with confidence, professionalism, and empathy.

For visitor access to the Mosier Pioneer Cemetery and the Mosier State Road Cemetery information, go to: and log in with the name Mosier Cemeteries and the password welcome.

-Adapted from text by Kathy Fitzpatrick, Mosier City Manager.

Mitigate the quake!

June 15, 2015
Before - Bad news in a quake!

Before – Bad news in a quake!

As of March 30th, 2014 the Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS) finished a yearlong project to protect their shelved artifacts against the ever present threat of a major earthquake. SOHS was first alerted to this danger after a 2010 Conservation Assessment Report recommendation. In 2013, SOHS applied for and won a matching $18,760 Heritage Grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission for this disaster mitigation proposal.

Unable to locate any suitable stabilization system for metal shelving, SOHS staff developed its own system using shelf unit bracing, shelving edge barriers and custom-made heavy-duty bungee restraints. This system provided adequate protection while still allowing easy access to the artifacts. Additionally, artifacts previously placed unboxed on shelves were also inventoried and archivally packed. The safeguards were installed by a small group of staff and volunteers with a minimal amount of carpentry and metal-working skills required.

Being the first artifact stabilization project in the state, the SOHS is proud that its successful plan will serve as a model for other cultural and heritage organizations. – Keoni Diacamos, Southern Oregon Historical Society

After - much better

After – much better

MentorCorps Success at the McLoughlin Memorial Association

March 18, 2015
The Holmes House

The Holmes House

Last year the McLoughlin Memorial Association (MMA) in Oregon City contacted the Heritage Commission about having a MentorCorps volunteer help the organization get a handle on its collections. Over a century ago, MMA organized to save the John McLoughlin House in Oregon City. Although the structure was turned over to the National Park Service in 2003, MMA provides financial support for the house, docents, programming related to McLouglin and his times, and tours at the nearby Holmes House—all with one part-time employee!  Dedicated board members and volunteers clearly believe in their mission, but needed some guidance to tackle collections care issues that had built up over the years. After site visits to both the Holmes House and the Barclay House, where the MMA’s papers are housed, MMA and their mentor crafted an action plan to address the most pressing needs of the organization—organized storage on the cheap at Barclay House and a collections inventory at Holmes House. MMA’s mentor developed a two-year, step-by-step plan of action for creating separate storage and research areas for the MMA papers and held trainings on basic archiving and how to conduct a collections inventory. Shortly after getting the two-year plan, the board president had acquired donated steel shelving and archival boxes, two main components of the plan, and made contact with the local archives program about getting an archives intern. While having a mentor did not mean all MMA’s collections issues magically disappeared, it helped the organization break the projects into doable steps and hopefully gave them the confidence to get its collections inventoried and safely housed.

Do you have a collections project that could use a mentor’s help?  Contact us at and we’ll hook you up with free expert advice!

– post by Sarah Cantor, Director of Archives at Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and one of our mentors.

Get PReP-ed. Get Paid.

February 6, 2015

Protecting Oregon’s heritage from disasters might seem daunting but the first step is easy. In an emergency it is important to have the names and numbers of relevant first-responders, volunteers and conservators all in one place.The easiest way to organize this vital information is the Pocket Response Plan also known as PReP. The PReP is simple phone tree, it takes 10-20 minutes to fill out now but it can save hours of anguish later.

As an incentive to get your organization’s PReP completed now, Oregon Heritage is offering a $50 cash reward that can be used for collections care or disaster response supplies. This incentive is for publicly accessible collections only.

Click here for a fillable PReP worksheet

Fill out a PReP for your organization now! It’s a small step with a big impact.


This is all there is to a PReP

Keeping the curtains from closing on Oregon’s historic theaters

January 23, 2015

With their large marquees and auditoriums, historic theaters are often the a focal point of Oregon’s historic commercial corridors.  They also boost tourism and stimulate economic activity in their communities.  Thankfully Pacific Power, Travel Oregon and Oregon Main Street are partnering with the University of Oregon’s Community Planning Workshop to form a Historic Theater Preservation Team.  The team is currently traveling across the state conducting a study of our historic theaters.  The end goal is to create a blueprint for the theaters to increase economic vitality and boost tourism throughout the state.

Craig Wiroll, a member of the team , posted about his work the Community Service Workshops blog.  You should check it out along with their video on the project below:

What is your favorite historic theater in Oregon?

Gift Wrap

December 26, 2014

With the gift giving season over it is nice to take a look back on some of the gifts Oregon Heritage has given in the past year.  Though, the gifts we give take a little more work than unwrapping.  In fact, the Preserve Oregon Grant for work on Alderbrook Station netshed did the opposite.  It allowed the owners to close the envelope of their historic building, protecting it for future generations of Oregonians to enjoy.  Read this message from the owners of the site:


Look at that lovely roof!


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 SF 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! 

The next round of Preserving Oregon Grants is opening in January.  Find out more about the grant at:


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