At the end of January, it was reported that a house built in the 1890’s was going to be torn down and rebuilt as two smaller homes. The news came to light in the Eliot Neighborhood Association’s blog and began making the rounds on reddit, facebook, and, of course, amongst the residents of the building’s neighborhood. Many were outraged this could be allowed to happen, even more so once it was discovered that the splitting of lots was not only encouraged, but legally mandated to increase population density.
Mostly local residents are saddened by this loss. The house is a beautiful reminder of our city’s past and one of only two 1890’s homes on the block. When the economy tanked in 2008 it took the last owner, who was renovating at the time, with it. The home stood empty and neglected by the bank until purchased by a developer last fall and it’s state is a direct result of the lack of protections on our older buildings and homes. If left alone it will be demolished, a victim of Portland’s desire to destroy and rebuild rather than care for it’s structures.
But – and this is a large but – there IS a chance the house can be saved. The developer is wiling to allow anyone interested in removing the structure from the property to fund and organize a relocation. I have been busy reaching out to National Trust for Preservation, the Historic Protection League of Oregon, and the Architechtural Heritage Center to see what help they can offer and sharing the story on Twitter and Facebook as well as contacting Oregon Live and other news outlets. If enough people are informed of this situation and enough funds raised the home can be evaluated for a move. As long as we have enough money and land to place it on – and the house is healthy – we can prevent the tragic loss of one of Portland’s beautiful and unique structures.
I would like to ask that anyone interested in seeing this house preserved share this story with friends, family, and their baristas and bartenders. The first step is awareness, and even if we cannot save the house we can still open a dialogue between our neighbors and the city about the sustainability and impact of their current policies and the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling even our homes.