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“Little” Joe Monahan

June 10, 2022

In honor of Pride Month in June, a member of the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries researched and shared the following story.

On the furthest reaches of the Eastern Oregon border, at the entrance of Idaho’s Owyhee country, sits a small, unassuming cemetery. The Rockville Cemetery is less than an acre in size, protected by a barbed-wire fence, and home to just twenty-six people laid to rest. Most of the gravemarkers have long since been worn away by all the elements imaginable in the harsh Eastern Oregon climate; for this reason, caretakers of this site have installed a single monument recognizing all who are interred at Rockville. One of the people identified on the memorial is “Little” Joe Monahan.

Monahan was born around 1850, though his early years are murky and speculative. He journeyed west, likely from New York, and settled in the Silver City area of Idaho, trying his hand at mining. It turns out Monahan had a knack for mining and made a small fortune, equivalent to around $85,000 today. Though, his luck ran out when he trusted his money with a crook of a supervisor and lost everything.

Joe decided to give up on mining and try his hand in a different industry, settling on the Succor Creek and starting a cattle ranch with just one head of cattle and a few chickens. He eventually grew his business to be sustainable enough to survive, though he lived a very meager life, living in nothing more than a dugout shelter in the earth. 

Joe was known for keeping to himself, working hard, and never complaining. One resident was quoted as saying, “He had fought his way through with many of us … suffered hardship and hunger in early days and never whimpered … the cowboys treated him with the greatest respect, and he was always welcome to eat and sleep at their camps.” Though he tried his best to keep to himself, he was well known for his shooting skills, accomplished horsemanship, and being a tough-as-nails cattle driver.

In the last days of 1904, Monahan came down with something akin to pneumonia. Trying his best to fight off the sickness, he finally gave in to seeking help from his neighbors. Sadly, the pneumonia overcame him, and Joe passed away.

None of Joe’s life is particularly remarkable for the life of a pioneer. It wasn’t until his body was being prepared for burial that it was discovered Joe was born female, making his life quite exceptional. Joe successfully lived his life as a man for at least the entire time he lived in Oregon and Idaho. Though described as a mere five foot tall, wearing men’s clothes much too big, having small hands and no facial hair, he was never questioned by anyone in his community about his sex. He was recorded in three censuses as male. He voted in every election and participated in his civil duties as a juror several times.

When news of Joe’s sex swept across the community, the story was quickly picked up and was sensationalized all across the country for a short period. Reports of his upbringing and early life grew into gossip with very little factual evidence; I can only imagine how the modest “Little” Joe Monahan would have felt about his life being so public.

We’ll never know precisely why Joe Monahan lived his life as a man. His decision could have been for financial security or better opportunities not offered to women at the time. Though I think the researcher Peter Boag said it best when he stated, “Perhaps the frontier lured these transgender people. They, too, bought into the promise of freedom and opportunity. Maybe they believed they could remake themselves in this new, undeveloped place. In many cases, these cross-dressers and transgender individuals lived and even thrived in the new territory.”

Joe was laid to rest in the community he thrived in, at Rockville Cemetery with his friends and neighbors. As one Rockville resident, Jess Strode, said, “She (sic) lies just about in the center of the cemetery. The best you can say is that “Little” Joe lies among her (sic) neighbors along the crick.”

So, 118 years after his death, this pride month, let’s all honor and celebrate “Little” Joe Monahan for living his life years ahead of his time with the most authenticity and freedom he knew possible.


Wikipedia Contributors. “Little Joe Monahan.” Wikipedia, Accessed 28 March 2022.

Ashworth, Suzanna. “Find a Grave Memorial 75787251.” Find A Grave, Accessed 28 March 2022.

Friedman, Ralph. Tracking Down Oregon. Caxton Press, 1978. Google Books. Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. Penguin, 1987. (link)

Sudermann, Hannelore. “A Re-Dress of the West.” Washington State Magazine, Accessed 28 March 2022.

Death Betrayed Her: For Eighteen Years Joe Monahan, A Woman, Masqueraded As A Man. (Jan. 16 1904). The Corvallis Times, pg. 1. (Link to article)

Boag, Peter. Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past. University of California Press, 2011.

Compliance Connections

May 13, 2022

By Jessica Gabriel, Review and Compliance Coordinator for the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office

At its surface, the regulatory side of historic preservation gets a bad rap. Words like compliance and mitigation have a way of clouding what is actually a pretty amazing opportunity. When we’re dealing with state and federal preservation laws, it is easy to lose sight of the get-to-do as we focus on the have-to-do. Yes, most state and federal agencies with properties over 50 years old will eventually have to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Yes, they’ll have to stop, look, and listen before making decisions that impact potentially historic properties and yes, they may even have to mitigate for those impacts. There’s no way around it, we have to do the have-to-do!

But there’s room for more. In my role as a compliance specialist, I propose we give the get-the-do more credit.  Because it is definitely due.  Yes, agencies have to consult, but in the process, they get to learn more about the pieces of Oregon history for which they are ultimately stewards.  Yes, agencies have to reach out to the public, but they get to have the opportunity to connect with local communities and stakeholders.  Yes, sometimes agencies have to complete mitigation, but they also get to tell a story.  They get to be a part of that story; of Oregon’s story.

You would be hard-pressed to find an aspect of Oregon’s story that historic preservation compliance hasn’t touched and one of the ways I focus on the get-to-do of my job is to appreciate the ways compliance is connected to our everyday. For example, like many folks my age, I grew up knowing that “Goonies never say die” and fell in love with Astoria, years before getting to live there for a few years myself.  As recently as 2021, SHPO consulted on a project involving Astoria’s iconic Riverwalk that’s featured in the opening credits of The Goonies. A small story for Oregon, but one that’s beloved nationally for its connection to movie nostalgia. Our records show a total of 369 compliance cases in Astoria and while the outcome of these projects may not have ultimately been physical preservation in every case, the history of these properties has had the opportunity to be told via the compliance process.

March is Women’s History Month.  Compliance connection? SHPO has a review case for Portland Women’s Forum State Park. The Portland Women’s Forum began in 1946 to address issues concerning civic, state, national, and international affairs and ultimately became a driving force for the preservation of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (for which we have at least 45 associated cases by the way). We get to celebrate the role women have had not just in the preservation of Oregon’s natural and historical resources, but in civic engagement as well.   

The upcoming 2022 World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field. Compliance connection? While the historic Hayward Field was not preserved, the University of Oregon and SHPO worked together to find creative ways of conveying the history of the old field to a new generation of athletes and spectators alike. That story can now be told on an international scale as this is the first time the championships have ever been held in the United States. We get to share that story with the world! 

We currently have record of about 42,496 cases in our files. Each one of these started as a have-to-do. But they also represent the opportunity for a connection uncovered, a history shared, and the chance to turn a regulatory process into a get-to-do

Preserving Central Oregon’s agricultural history at a homestead house

March 29, 2022

Written by: Julie Brown, communication and community relations manager, Bend Park and Recreation District

I admit that historical preservation expertise isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a park and recreation agency. But a recent collaboration with our historical society may start to change that in Central Oregon.

Hollinshead Park is a former working ranch donated by Dean and Lily Hollinshead to Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD) in 1984. Much of the park is open fields in place of the original Hollinshead orchard. The renovated Hollinshead Barn hosts 150+ events annually including workshops, classes, conferences, and weddings attended by more than 15,000 people in 2019. The park is also home to the Hollinshead-Matson Share Croppers House, now an informal museum.

The Hollinshead-Matson Historic House has been maintained for nearly three decades through a relationship between Sharron Rosengarth, one of the five Matson children, and her late-husband Tony Rosengarth, and the park district.

In late 2019, BPRD was awarded an Oregon Heritage Grant to work alongside Deschutes County Historical Society to preserve and care for historical items in the Hollinshead Home, and develop interpretative panels to tell the agricultural and family history of the property. The project was completed in 2021 and is a great example of a park and recreation project leveraging grant funds and partner expertise.

The Hollinshead-Matson House project seized an opportunity that would have been soon lost if not acted upon. The personal connection of Sharron Rosengarth who was born in the home and tells her family story directly about the house and its contents, combined with BPRD’s commitment to honoring the historical use of the property and the Deschutes County Historical Society’s expertise to interpret the story was a powerful trifecta.

The project:

  • Preserved an early 20th century homestead family historic house and accompanying archival collection.
  • Allowed BPRD and Deschutes County Historical Society to pool resources in order to meet our shared goals of preservation, heritage education and long-term care of the Hollinshead-Matson Historic House collection and exhibits.
  • Set up a post-pandemic volunteer-led public tour approach to teaching agricultural history in a highly visible and highly visited public space.

Kelly Cannon-Miller, Executive Director, Deschutes County Historical Society, provided project oversight on behalf of DCHS. During her thirteen years at DCHS, she has worked closely with Sharron and Tony Rosengarth on several projects, including oral history gathering. Her relationship to the Rosengarth family aided in the emotional transition of management of the historic house from the family to BPRD.

“This project really represents the massive demographic and economic shifts in Bend’s population over the past thirty years, on two different levels,” said Kelly Cannon-Miller. “On the one hand is the shift from agriculture as a part of the local economy to subdivisions and population explosion. On the other hand, it’s the change from a small town where everyone knew who Dean and Lily Hollinshead were and Sharron can have her home phone number on the sign out front to call for tours, to a small city where two thirds of the population is new and disconnected from the town’s past.”

“But in the rough edges between Old Bend and New Bend, there is a shared love of our parks—by bringing forward the shared history within these spaces, we can honor the past while connecting its newest residents to it,” she added.

A simple tool to re-energize your volunteer recruitment

March 15, 2022

We noticed a theme emerge in this year’s Oregon Main Street Network Annual reports that matches comments from other areas of our heritage world—volunteer engagement is down. It’s no wonder. This month marks two years of pandemic life. We’ve experienced the ups and downs of closing, opening, learning new technology, and going virtual- in all aspects of our lives. People are tired, and things have changed.

We’re also on the cusp of spring, looking ahead to outdoor event season, and excited to refocus on the work we all love.

If it’s time to re-energize your volunteer recruitment, here’s a concrete tool from Main Street America to get started. It’s simple, easily adaptable to any organization’s work, and here’s why it’s brilliant—it creates a giant, structured brainstorm. The goal is to think broadly about who you know in your community and how they may be a good connection to your organization. This is a great chance to focus on inclusivity and welcoming new volunteers.

Not an Oregon Main Street community? Don’t worry, you can easily modify this Word Template to fit your type of heritage organization. The idea is the same.

Here are the steps:

  1. Have each board/committee member fill this out in advance of meeting together
  2. At your next meeting, put up categories for your open volunteer positions on a wall
  3. Board members refer to their list to start throwing out names that fit under each category
  4. Develop a recruitment plan
  5. Divvy up contacting new volunteers

The outcome of this exercise should be lots of fresh, new, or re-inspired contacts you can approach to focus on the activities and objectives that meet your mission!

For more resources on volunteer engagement and management, check out our outreach initiatives page. And don’t forget, Volunteer Appreciation Week is just around the corner in April!

Baker County Culture & Heritage Passport

March 1, 2022

Written by Lynn Weems, Baker Heritage Museum Director, and Teresa McQuisten, former Director

Years ago, Ginger Savage learned about “Mr. Carnegie’s Grand Tour of Washington,” a passport that encourages travelers to visit Carnegie libraries. Ginger is the executive director of Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, an art center housed in Baker City’s restored Carnegie Library. The Carnegie passport got her to thinking—what if Baker County could develop a passport to get people traveling around our county visiting our primary culture and heritage sites?

Over the years, Ginger held onto that idea and thought of ways to implement it, but it was tough to get enough people on board to get the idea off the ground. In 2020, Ginger floated the idea, again, to the directors and volunteers of the Eastern Oregon Regional Museum and the Baker Heritage Museum. This group put their heads together, analyzed previous attempts at the passport and developed a simple, easy to use, paper passport that would guide visitors from Baker City’s most visited heritage sites out to the smaller sites, which lay just off the beaten path in Baker County.

As the program started to come together in 2020, it seemed the program might, once again, fall into peril due to the oncoming pandemic. However, Ginger and her colleagues at the museums quickly came to realize that the passport could be more valuable than ever during the pandemic. Heritage museums and art centers became a place where people could visit during the pandemic and easily maintain safety protocols like social distancing. More visitors to Baker were planning “staycations” and traveling regionally by car down the interstate, instead of traveling abroad. The passport allowed the primary heritage sites in Baker to get these visitors off the interstate and far out into Baker County to experience our heritage sites and to stay in our hotels and campgrounds and to stay long enough to enjoy our shops and restaurants.

Over the 2020 season the museums handed out over 455 passports (stamped), and another 800 passports (unstamped) distributed to schools in Baker City, Haines and Keating. For a first year with a pandemic we counted this as a success year. We also offered a grand prize at the end of the season to someone who visited all the sites. We had very good responses from those who participated in the passport program and plan to continue the program this season.

The biggest benefit, however, was that the passport gave the staff and volunteers of Baker County’s museums and cultural institutions a reason to come together. The passport became the driving force in bringing the people who operate our heritage sites together to get to know one another and develop a strong heritage network in Baker County. Despite the isolation of the pandemic, the passport brought us together.

Refreshing a Block of Buildings in Downtown Stayton

February 15, 2022

Written by: Julia Bochsler, Revitalize Downtown Stayton

Back in the olden days when grant cycles were scheduled years in advance, Revitalize Downtown Stayton (RDS) president, Steve Poisson, witnessed several building improvements going on in the Main Street District. He started a conversation with the building owners. Let’s write a $200,000 grant to complete facade improvements for seven buildings. This included five building owners and more than twenty tenants, all in the 300 block of N 3rd Ave in Stayton. The goal was to develop community solidarity with downtown as the core, beautify downtown with a cohesive aesthetic, and thereby increase foot traffic.

It was summer of 2018 and RDS hired an architect (funded by a Marion County grant) to create renderings. Building owners gave input and started creating budgets, while Steve created owner agreements. These ended up being the three most important things for a very creative grant: a vision, a budget and the small details.  When the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant was awarded by Oregon Main Street (OMS), Stayton’s population of 8,415 people, collectively did a happy dance! 

The vision helped keep building owners on track. Budgets allowed owners to shift monies here or there when they opened up a ceiling and found a surprise. The small details in the owner agreements helped make grant administration a lot smoother. Former president Steve Poisson commented, “Our agreement required owners to put up their match first. I wasn’t going to make RDS responsible for anyone’s match.” Steve chuckled, and added “I wish we would have included a phrase that said all receipts up to June 30 of every year, must be submitted by July 15th in order to get paid.” OMS requires fiscal year responsibility so that work done, gets paid in the year it was done. It’s in the small details. 

While the small details make a big difference, the OMS grant had a huge impact on the downtown core. The grant budget was $283,000, though more than double that amount has or is being invested in these seven buildings. As the 300 block nears completion, seven other buildings within two blocks, have made or are making significant improvements. Our vacancy rate is down and one grant recipient joined RDS in 2019 and is now the Vice President.

During the 2018 Main Street Refresh, Stayton citizens biggest request was for historic downtown to have more shopping and a place to have an evening meal.  In recent news, RDS publicized ten new businesses opening, reopening or expanding their presence in Historic Downtown Stayton. Advertisements state that there are more than twenty shops, a first-rate movie theater and ten, YES TEN, eating establishments in our main street district. A true testament to what Oregon Main Street and OMS grants can do to revitalize a small community. 

Oregon SHPO Continues to Improve the Historic Sites Database

February 4, 2022

As many who use the Oregon SHPO’s online Historic Sites Database may know, over the years, the Inventory has grown to nearly 67,000 individual property records, some dating back to as early as 1972 on paper forms with black-and-white photos glued to them. Since that time, the way we have tracked the locations of these has changed several times, starting with not at all, through things like Township/Range/Section (imprecise), postal route numbers (abolished), property addresses (changed), UTM (rarely accurate before GIS), and finally latitude and longitude, which we use today. Despite periodic efforts to update locations as the method changed, as far back as 2014 our office realized that about 16,000 property did not include mappable location data, causing them to not map at all.

At that time, with the help of OPRD’s GIS team, we developed a list of all the properties not mapping, and began the long work of attempting to locate these with latitude/longitude. Sixteen thousand. One. By. One. Eight years later, through staff changes, budget cuts, increasing workloads, natural disasters, including a global pandemic forcing many of us out of our offices, and with the help of staff, interns, temporary employees, CLG’s and Landmark Commissions, and many private citizens across the state (and beyond!), we have made substantial progress, reducing that number by a little over 70%!

Today, the work goes on, and the remaining 4,600 or so unmapped records continue to slowly get addressed. Our goal remains to map as close to 100% as possible of the properties for which we have records, and with the help of everyone we continue to approach that goal.

Everyone can help out, just by reaching out to our office whenever an unmapped property is definitively located – some of them may be in your community! Sometimes they’ve been moved, other times they no longer exist – let us know that, too! Send any information you have to

Making decisions is hard

January 21, 2022

Decision making BEFORE the pandemic was hard, but the pandemic feels like it has made this process a 1000% more difficult. Pre-pandemic, cancelling an event due to something like the weather was pretty straightforward. Early pandemic, postponing or changing an event to virtual was (sort of) universally understood. Mid-pandemic, however; nothing is straightforward. In fact, it feels like no matter what decision you make people will be upset with you so much so that you end up grabbing antacids for the ulcer that’s brewing for the anticipated fallout. That’s how we felt when we recently decided to move the 2022 Oregon Heritage Conference online.

Every time we brought it up it felt like no one wanted to make the call, and we kept putting it off or just blankly staring at each other (which is kind of easy to do virtually) until finally someone said, “What criteria are we even using to make this decision?” More stares. So, we made a decision-making matrix, put it down in writing, and it made ALL the difference.

For this conference, we looked at the things we value about the conference and issues we were considering:

Geographic diversity – inclusivity – coordination & networking – affordability –
downtown preservation & preservation – promoting communities – flexibility – health/safety – capacity – cost – relationships – awards

Then for each value/issue, we looked at the risks vs. rewards for the in-person versus online.

For example:

Geographic DiversityThis limits statewide access more than it usually would given potential fears of travel and large gatheringsLess limited, but connectivity can be the barrier for this
NetworkingImpacted due to social distancing, masks, limit on attendees, and uneasiness of being in a crowdNot as effective in online environment but still possible with breakout rooms albeit less casual
Health & SafetyAre we OK with risking bringing large numbers together for this? We would need to limit numbers in rooms, have health checks, possible vaccine requirement, additional cleaning, etc.People are not at risk.

Those are just a couple of the issues we discussed, but I’ll tell you what, that last one was huge for us. Possible risking attendees vs. not risking ANY attendees. Putting that in writing and saying it aloud during our meeting was critical to the process.

If you are having a hard time making a decision these days, think about sitting down and examining what value the event or program has, what issues exist, and how the different scenarios impact those values.

The next critical step is communicating the decision, which is also anxiety inducing. We DREADED sending out the announcement for the online Heritage Conference, really procrastinating on hitting that send button, and when we finally did, we were tense, waiting for the backlash. So far so good, we have not had a negative one (I probably just jinxed us with that last statement…rats).

We’d like to think it is because we were open and honest in how we communicated our decision. Here’s the public announcement we shared. We incorporated humor to remind folks that planning an event means time and money are invested months in advance of the actual occasion, and it’s not easy. We reminded ourselves that people who don’t plan events regularly might not be aware of this, and a little transparency can go a long way! So don’t be shy about telling people the why behind your decisions and if you go through a process, you will have the words to say to them.

Here are a couple of additional resources related to decision-making processes:

Oregon Heritage Reflects on 2021

January 6, 2022

First and foremost, Happy New Year from Oregon Heritage!

Oregon Heritage includes the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries and many other programs supporting efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, preserve, and recognize Oregon’s historic resources. To reflect on the past year, we are sharing our experience, noting primary plan (Oregon Historic Preservation Plan and Oregon Heritage Plan) progress, and looking to the future.

Despite the continuing COVID-19 health emergency, state office closures, travel restrictions, budget limitation, and nearly a 30% staff cut related to the pandemic, staff moved many goals forward. Oregon Heritage saw a general increase in demand for services. We continued support related to COVID impacts and responded to 2020 and 2021 wildfires; providing support to heritage organizations, assisting federal and state agencies seeking to identify and protect historic properties, and participating in working groups.

These challenges created an opportunity to re-evaluate agency priorities and how we do our work. The results are reflected in achievements of plan goals, noted below.

Fewer resources and greater demand did reduce responsiveness. In addition to our general services, primary projects that lagged include implementation of the state National Register rule, oversight of inter-agency agreement documents, and response to issues of confidentiality of culturally-sensitive. Training, communication, and outreach program services were also limited.

In 2022, with full staffing for the first time since May 2020, we expect to continue current efforts. The Compliance Bureau will emphasize administration of cultural resource laws and related policy issues including the state archaeological permit law and confidentiality of culturally-sensitive information. Preservation Bureau will address the identification, evaluation, and treatment of historic properties. The survey program will integrate the processes and documentation for archaeological and built-environment resources and continue to broaden the types of documented historic places. Work will continue on two statewide National Register nominations for properties related to African American and Depression Era history. Three major studies will be completed: an evaluation of the Oregon Main Street Network, a study of the economic value of heritage, and an exploration of unused upper floors in historic downtowns.

Our two guiding plans will remain central to our work. The current State Preservation Plan ends in 2023, so we will bring our partners together across the heritage community to develop goals for the new plan. We will also begin an exciting evaluation process for the Oregon Heritage Plan. Perhaps most importantly, we look forward to a time when we can again open our offices and begin meeting with you in-person, on-site in support of the many good things each of you do for Oregon’s communities.

We also want to recognize the efforts of those we serve, all of you who are doing heritage preservation work in Oregon. While 2020 was a year of resilence and pivoting, 2021 was a year of perseverance for heritage organizations and efforts. We saw all of you moving forward, keeping an eye on the ebbs and flows of the pandemic situation, but ultimately working with the current reality and doing the best you could and thriving within it.

Let’s take a look at a snapshot of our programs from 2021 and some of the results for heritage preservation in Oregon:

Project Review

  • 218 Archaeology permits were issued and 1003 compliance review letters were issued to help determine if a project will have impacts on properties of historic significance
  • 19 Memorandum of Agreements and 5 Programmatic Agreements were signed. This allows partners to complete preservation, education, and documentation projects that address or minimize negative impacts to historic resources while also streamlining processes


  • 2,848 properties and sites were surveyed that will be added to our databases such as the Historic Sites Database available for the public to view.


Darcelle XV
  • 18 listings in the National Register of Historic Places including:
    • The African American Resources in Portland, Oregon from 1851 to 1973 MPD
    • The Oregon Trail, Oregon, 1840 to 1880 MPD
    • Portland’s Mallory Avenue Christian Church. Located in Portland’s Albina neighborhood, the 1949 Mallory Avenue Christian Church is recognized for its notable early postwar modern architecture and association with Portland’s Black Community.
    • Portland’s Darcelle XV. Nationally significant for its role it played in creating acceptance for drag and gay rights and as a safe place that anchored the LGBTQ community far beyond the reach of any LGBTQ bar. Learn more about the larger scale and award winning Darcelle Project here.
  • Two National Register nominations, one for the The Rex in Vale and one for the Dallas Cinema in Dallas, resulted from the National Park Service Historic Theater Grant awarded to our office in 2019.
  • The Oregon Main Street Network had 7 new communities designated at the Exploring Downtown level and 2 applications for the Associate level
  • The Aumsville Corn Festival was designated an Oregon Heritage Tradition having been carried out every year since 1968
  • Grants Pass joined the ranks of Oregon’s designated Certified Local Governments
  • Governor Brown signed into law a bill passed by the Oregon legislature to change the designation date for a historic cemetery beyond the original date of February 14, 1909 to 75 years or older.


  • Value of Heritage Resources in Disaster Recovery document and communication tools were added to the Value of Heritage Toolkit
  • The current Preservation Plan and Heritage Plan continued to be woven throughout our programs (stay tuned in 2022 for outreach to begin for the next Preservation Plan and a 3 year evaluation to begin for the Heritage Plan!)
  • The 2021 Virtual Summit focused on collaboration and featured a pre-conference event to help provide a networking opportunity for those working on preserving Latino and Hispanic heritage in Oregon
  • The 2021 Oregon Main Street Conference engaged the Main Street network with inspiring keynote speakers and relevant topics


  • Process initiated to revamp state tax incentive program
  • Completed 9 federal tax program projects
  • Preserving Oregon and Diamonds in the Rough Grant programs were back this year after a hiatus related to COVID-19 budget impacts.
    • Diamonds in the Rough – Awarded $75,000 for 4 projects in 3 counties
    • Preserving Oregon – Awarded $200,000 for 13 projects in 11 counties
  • Oregon Museum Grant program awarded $74,278 for 13 projects in 10 counties
  • Oregon Historic Cemeteries Grant program awarded $62,500 for 15 projects in 13 counties
  • Oregon Heritage Grant program awarded $380,000 for 32 projects in 17 counties. We successfully increased the number of applications this year by more than 20 applications over our highest ever number.
  • The 2019 Oregon Heritage Grant funding projects successfully wrapped up despite scope of work adjustments in response to COVID-19 challenges. In the end, there was only one cancellation.
  • Oregon Heritage All-Star Communities received $18,000 resulting in 6 projects in 6 counties.
  • Launch of the revamped Oregon Heritage MentorCorps Program, matching Heritage Mentors with eight organizations for nine months of sustained technical assistance.
  • 2021 saw the first approved permit for working in a historic cemetery. German Hill Cemetery in Clackamas County with the beneficiary of work provided by James Moriarty.


If our emergency management professionals aren’t planning for our heritage resources, who is?

December 2, 2021

National Register listed Hanscom Hall, Talent, Oregon– Before and After Alameda Fire

Heritage resources connect us to each other and our collective past. They support our local economies and strengthen social bonds. Heritage resources serve as physical, spiritual, and psychological manifestations of identity, and the loss of such resources can be devastating to a community. We also know heritage resources are highly vulnerable to damage or loss from disasters. But planners and emergency management professional rarely consider and prioritize the impact of disaster on heritage resources. If our emergency management professionals aren’t planning for our heritage resources, who is?

That question was meant to be alarming. But don’t panic.

As heritage advocates, the opportunity to be at the table during disaster planning conversations and share the value of our state’s heritage resources helps solve a missing piece of the puzzle. The Oregon Heritage Commission recently released the Value of Cultural Heritage in Disaster Resilience Report and Messaging Guide with sample messages you can copy and modify to begin these conversations to safeguard our collective heritage.

FEMA’s Tips for Communicating Risk in Disaster Planning are great reminders of how to frame these discussions:

  1. Relate to your audience: Determine from your audience the places and experiences most important to them; does heritage play a role? What do they envision for their community in 10, 20, or 50 years?  Again, it’s about the community’s beliefs and values, so start the conversation by discussing what matters most to them.
  2. Avoid jargon: Speak plainly and limit discussions on technical topics. Share with the audience what is most at risk from disasters — their homes, their businesses, their cherished spaces, their community identity. Importantly, don’t lead with data.  Showing disaster statistics and sea level rise charts and graphs isn’t a compelling introduction to the message of heritage-based disaster resilience.
  3. Tell stories: Charts aren’t compelling, but stories of personal experience are, so be prepared with those stories. Better yet, if possible, have those individuals personally share their stories. Sharing disaster resilience and recovery stories allows people to make the emotional connections so important to believing that disaster risks to their community’s heritage are real.
  4. Answer questions honestly: When you don’t have all the answers to the questions, admit it and follow up. While you may have prepared with facts, information, and compelling stories, you’ll never have all the answers to the community’s questions. Take those opportunities to learn from your community members and decision-makers what’s important to them and use it as a reason to conduct follow-up, whether one-on-one or through another public event.

Ready to start communicating the importance of heritage resources in disaster planning? Check out the Value of Cultural Heritage in Disaster Resilience Report and Messaging Guide with sample messages you can copy and modify to begin these conversations. These tools can also be used in conjunction with the Community Disaster Resilience Planning for Heritage Resources Guidebook to kick-start a community-wide disaster planning effort focused on heritage resources.