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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:

Digitization standards will aid users

December 16, 2014

2004_microfilm_reader_1117365851If you have ever done research using microfilm (I once heard it described as “God’s torture for historians”), you know the quality of each reel varies. Not until 1979 – several decades after it started being used – were the first microfilming standards adopted.

Fast forward to today. Some of the early digitized content is problematic. Some was digitized with the goal of immediate access using little space. Other has been digitized with preservation in mind, using perhaps lots of electronic space. Some now is being re-digitized because the original work was of poor quality or it is a format that has not proved sustainable.

Many studies have explored the technical side of digitization. Now, with efforts regionally and nationally to create sites that compile digitized material from archives, museums and libraries, standardized minimum digitization standards are being considered.

One set of recommendations drawing interest in Oregon is from the preservation and reformatting section of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. In fact, a task force has recommended to Oregon’s Library Services and Technology Act advisory council that it use these ALCTS standards when evaluating grant applications for digitization.

The recommendations cover books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, posters, audio, video and other formats. Are you meeting these standards? What will it take for your organization to meet them? How can the Heritage Commission assist you?

(Kyle Jansson is coordinator of the Oregon Heritage Commission.)

A rising tide for business and heritage in Coos Bay

December 5, 2014
One of the regulars at the historic Egyptian theater in Coos Bay.

One of the regulars at the historic Egyptian theater in Coos Bay.

Representatives of the Oregon Main Street program traveled to Coos Bay this week to undertake a program review of the Coos Bay Downtown Association’s efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown.  The term “Program Review” may sound a little intimidating; but the process is less about critique and more about helpful advice.  The team chatted with business owners, volunteers and even mayor Crystal Shoji about the association’s efforts to improve downtown Coos Bay. The CBDA has a lot to be proud of including the famous Blackberry Arts Festival and one of Oregon’s largest and best farmers’ markets.

The visit culminated in a wrap-up meeting where Oregon Main Street coordinator Sheri Stuart and downtown revitalization expert Cary Tyson offered observations and advice to the Coos Bay Downtown Association board. The team will also generate a report for the group.

Their advice came at no cost to the Coos Bay Downtown Association.  It is one of the many amenities available to communities participating in the Oregon Main Street Network.  To find out more about the Main Street Program in Oregon go to:

Coos bay is definitely on the upswing. Places like the recently rehabilitated Egyptian Theater to the new 7 Devils Brew Pub make Coos Bay an excellent place to stop and visit.  If you need any more reasons to come it happens to be the site of the 2015 Oregon Heritage conference from April 22-24th.  Come and see all great things going on in Coos Bay. For more on the Oregon Heritage Conference go to:

Do you have any favorite places in Coos Bay?


7 Devils Brewpub – one of the many great new restaurants in downtown Coos Bay.


10 Things We’re Thankful for from 2014

November 25, 2014
Publicly Passionate Heritage Fans
We like those ardent Oregon heritage fans that tell the public how important it is to support heritage efforts. There are many who carry out this work, and we can’t list them all. But notable fans in 2014 included Restore Oregon and its efforts to create a historic preservation tax credit, the more than 8,500 donors to the Oregon Cultural Trust, and the 7,389 Crook County residents (83 percent of the electors) who voted to continue using part of their county property tax payments for support of the Bowman Museum in Prineville.

Office of Emergency Management
You have to think ahead to preserve our history. We are thankful for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management for helping our museums, historic sites and archives look ahead and prepare for potential disasters. Big thanks go to all of the organizations that have sought OEM’s advice in the last year or participated in its activities. You can take the first step toward protecting your organization’s collection by creating a Pocket Response Plan (PReP). Learn more about PReP phone trees here

Oregon Traditions
Like any family, Oregon has its annual traditions. The most special of these yearly events, gatherings and parties can be designated as Oregon Heritage Traditions. The Oregon Heritage Tradition designation recognizes events throughout the state that are over 50 years old and represent what it means to be an Oregonian. This year several events joined the ranks of the Oregon Heritage Tradition. They are: The Klamath basin Potato Festival, the Scandinavian Festival, The Wasco County Fair and Rodeo, the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, the Clackamas County Fair and Bend Fourth of July Pet Parade. Make an Oregon Heritage Tradition your family tradition by attending or participating in one of these events next year

New CLGs
The most important work in preservation happens at the local level. Certified Local Governments are those cities and counties in Oregon that have demonstrated a commitment to preservation by passing an ordinance and assigning a government commission on historic preservation. Best of all it makes them eligible for grants to do historic preservation projects or public outreach about heritage in their communities. In 2013 we welcomed Aurora, Pendleton and Newberg into the program; three of Oregon’s most historic towns.

Performing Main Street Communities
Our Performing Main Streets communities are working hard to strengthen, preserve and revitalize their historic downtown commercial districts. They have shown dedication and commitment to maintaining these significant places as vibrant community centers and their work will ensure that Oregon’s downtowns are active for generations to come. Kudos to our Main Oregon’s main street organizations in.

Heritage All-Stars
Oregon Heritage All-Stars are those communities that have made a special effort to build an environment where their heritage shines. These communities meet at least 15 of Oregon Heritage’s 20 criteria, which touch on all aspects of our shared heritage. We are thankful to welcome new Heritage All-Stars; Albany, Cottage Grove, Oregon City, Roseburg and Salem in 2014.

Getting Together
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the chance to get together with friends and family and reconnect. For those working with Oregon’s Heritage and developing its local communities this opportunity comes more than once a year. The Oregon Heritage Conference and the Oregon Main Street Conference each provide a chance for volunteers and professionals from across the state to meet, reconnect and learn from one another. Special thanks go out to the McMinnville Downtown Associations and Albany Downtown Association for hosting the 2014 conferences. This year the Heritage Conference will be held in Coos Bay from April 22-24.

We are always looking for opportunities to say “thank you” to the volunteers that make up our MentorCorps. In 2014 this group of expert mentors has assisted dozens of museums and archives across the state with the maintenance and care of their collections. If you have a publicly accessible collection and would like free guidance in its care and protection let us know! We may be able to assign you free assistance from a mentor.

Oregon Century Farms and Ranches
Take a moment this week in between bites of turkey to consider the work that went into each of the morsels on your table. It takes people to cultivate our food and in some cases, families have been perfecting that process for generations. The Oregon Century Farms and Ranches program is a way of honoring that legacy and saying thanks for more than 100 years of keeping us fed and perpetuating the state’s agricultural heritage.

Developing Deeper Partnerships
Oregon Heritage has supported and worked with Oregon Black Pioneers for years. This past year we joined together in a deeper collaboration for both organizations. We are engaging the public to help us find properties related to African Americans in Oregon. The partnership was a natural fit. Our goal is to document and make available on the Oregon Historic Sites Database information about as many properties as possible from around the state. In the long run, we hope to nominate several properties to the National Register of Historic Places. If you know of a property associated with African Americans, as recently as 1984, please submit any information you have to the data collection website.

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday. What are you thankful for?


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