|Volume 16, Issue 12||
Old house gets a coat of paint, more work planned
Constructed from vertical, two-by-ten inch cedar timbers, the JQA Young House has weathered the years since it’s construction in the 1860s but was showing its age.
Once it was no longer used as the Post Office (see JQA Young article in this issue) it was a residence for several different families, and then was abandoned probably around 1960. At some point it was occupied by squatters and vandalized.
“Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) acquired the .57-acre site and house from Cedar Mill Bible Church in 2005. In February of 2005, the THPRD Board of Directors approved the formation of an Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee with the charge of assessing the condition of the house and site, identifying methods and costs for restoring the house, and seeking public input and support through fundraising. At the end of their charge in February 2006, the committee’s research and planning efforts culminated in the production of an 11-page Historical Property Management Plan with supporting documents. This plan outlined potential restoration, programming, educational and interpretive opportunities for the property, and provided the foundation for the district to move on the next phase of planning for the park.*”
A Master Plan was developed, and in 2009 the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, based on its significance to the community. A “Friends” group was established to raise funds for restoration, but with little support from the park district, the effort was not very successful. The non-profit fundraising THPRD Foundation never really adopted the house as a project, and the Friends group hasn’t met since 2012.
The foundation of the house is a mess. The basement probably includes the cellar of the original cabin, and the rest of the foundation is constructed of a variety of materials including bricks and stones. A 2011 report created by consulting architect Brian Jackson suggested moving the house onto a new foundation as the first step for renovation, because it was believed at the time that any future widening of Cornell would impact the house in its current location. The $750,000 price tag for this work was a formidable goal for a volunteer effort with no support.
In 2014, a $50,000 grant was received from the Wheeler Foundation and placed in the Tualatin Hills Park Foundation account to be used for restoration of the house and property.
“From 2014-16, THPRD maintenance staff budgeted for, and completed, several projects on the house and property to protect the district’s asset. The interior of the house was cleaned of debris left by squatters, and a sump pump was installed in the basement. The rear support beam for the gable roof was replaced along with other roof repairs. The windows and entrances were boarded to eliminate entry of unauthorized persons, and the exterior was painted. The grounds were maintained on a weekly service schedule.”
It has since been determined that the house can stay in its present location. “In 2017, district staff established priorities to upgrade the exterior appearance of the house including gutters, exterior paint, window and door replacement, and a new roof. Quotes have been received for these projects, and are currently being solicited for the foundation. Once an acceptable quote for the foundation is secured, a project schedule will be developed. In addition to the $50,000 available from the grant received in 2014, $50,000 was included in the FY18/19 budget for the projects mentioned above. The grounds continue to be maintained on a weekly service schedule.*”
Keith Watson, Community Programs Manager for THPRD, says, “Initial bids for the foundation range from $25K to $175K, with the high end being total replacement. While total replacement has been recommended, we've asked for a separate bid to shore up the back corner of the building where it is sagging. A third site visit with the contractor and an engineer is scheduled this month.”
He continues, “Replacement of some of the siding and windows is planned but does not make sense until a solution for the foundation is determined. Ultimately, the building should be squared up before any major replacements are undertaken. Any contractor hired to do work on the building will be made aware of the National Historic Register designation and follow any regulations associated with historic preservation.”
Many cities in Washington County support their historic properties with staff and funding. However, Cedar Mill is unincorporated, and the county has no programs to support history. THPRD is the only public agency in our area that can do this work.
We’re encouraged that the current Board has more interest in historical properties, but according to Watson, “We do not currently have a historical resource group... the majority of our efforts include maintaining the historical properties that we own and ensuring capital replacements are on time and appropriate. I will continue to communicate and work with our maintenance team as projects unfold.”
We encourage THPRD to consider establishing a working group of staff and the public to evaluate and plan for further development of its historic properties. This could include professional fundraising expertise and encouraging community support for preserving and sharing our history.
*From THPRD’s 2018 Fact Sheet
Cedar Mill News
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