History in the News August 2023

jqay house sill

Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD) announced this month that they are honored to receive a grant award of $17,310 from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s (OPRD) Preserving Oregon Grants, to complete structural repair work on the wood foundation sill of the John Quincy Adams Young (JQAY) House on Cornell. OPRD oversees the Preserving Oregon Grant, which is used to help preserve properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, such as the JQAY house. The grant requires a one-to-one match, meaning THPRD will be utilizing other grant funding to help complete the repair work later this year.

jqay house sill
The mud sill from inside, under the house. Note the deflection in the beam to the left of the floor joist, just right of the pink insulation on a heat duct.

The JQAY house is one of oldest surviving buildings in Washington County and is the last remaining above-ground resource associated with the cedar mill for which the area was named. John Quincy Adams Young and his family traveled the Oregon Trail in the late 1840s, settling on the Tualatin Plains, as Washington County was called back then. The house was built between 1863-1869 on land next to Cedar Mill Creek. Young had bought the adjacent mill in 1869. He named the community when he applied to run a Post Office.

In 2005, THPRD acquired the surrounding half-acre property, and the house. The district committed to supporting local community members who wished to take the lead on working to revitalize the house and determine a long-term ownership and use for the house. The ultimate vision is for a non-profit organization to take over stewardship and management of the house for a community purpose. For now, THPRD has committed to work with the Cedar Mill community, to preserve the house, to afford the community time to determine the future use of the JQAY house.

Friends group has been busy

Last year, the Friends of the John Quincy Adams Young House facilitated a gratis inspection of the house by Shannon Sardell, a historical architect with expertise in box-built buildings like the Young House. (Box-built buildings do not have balloon frames of 2 x 4 studs but are constructed with broad and thick vertical boards that are nailed side by side to a mud sill at the bottom and a plate at the top.) Her inspection found that about eight feet of the mud sill in the southeast corner was rotten and needed replacement.

The Friends recommended that THPRD contract with Sardell for a thorough inspection that produced specifications to repair the problem in a manner appropriate for the historic structure. Work on properties listed on the National Register of Historic places should comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

The grant should cover about half of the cost of removing and replacing the eight-inch square mud sill and a dozen 12-inch wide by 1 ¼-inch thick boards that are roughly 10-12 feet in length to match the original structure. Some window repair may be included. Friends will work with THPRD to secure another grant for the other half (matching funds) of the needed money.

The repair will restore the structural integrity of the SE corner and ensure the preservation of the house for the immediate future while planning efforts proceed to find viable uses for the building that can drive fundraising and revitalization of the oldest structure in Cedar Mill.

Friends of the John Quincy Adams Young House is a 501c3 non-profit, so donations are tax deductible. For more information or to donate, please contact jqayounghouseinfo@gmail.com. We are actively seeking partners (individuals as well as groups) to join in the effort to revitalize Cedar Mill’s oldest building.

Learn more at the Cider Festival!

Friends will have a booth at the Cedar Mill Cider Festival, next to the History Tent, to provide information about the house and their efforts to revitalize it. They will also be selling heritage fruit trees to help raise funds. Cornell Farm has propagated dozens of Gravenstein Apple and Bartlett Pear tree saplings from the apple and pear trees that remain from the orchard that once stood west of the Young House. Those are available for $50 and $35 respectively. Donations will also be gratefully accepted.