|Volume 8, Issue 7||
JQA Young House: it only looks like nothing is happening!
People passing by the old house on Cornell often wonder why there’s no visible progress on renovating the house and opening it to the public. They offer to help with painting or interior decorating. Lynda Myers, Executive Director of the Tualatin Hills Park Foundation, says, “This is the challenging part, keeping people interested in the project even though they can’t come out and work on the house at this time.” There are ways to be involved, though, see sidebar for info.
The John Quincy Adams Young house, on Cornell near 119th, was built in the early 1860s by the second owner of the sawmill. It was acquired by Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD) in 2005. The district initially appropriated $100,000 to fund a study of the restoration work that would need to be done to turn the long-abandoned building into a public facility.
Due to the amount of work that will need to be done to the house and grounds, it is estimated that nearly $750,000 in additional funds will need to be raised. Changes in district management, problems in the park foundation (the fund-raising organization for district projects) and many other factors have contributed to little visible progress in the intervening years.
Some of the funds that were originally appropriated were used to commission a Master Plan that was completed in October 2007 by McKay and Sposito Inc. The district applied for and the house was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places in December 2008.
Before any kind of renovation can begin on the interior of the house, several issues need to be dealt with. Tons of mixed fill dirt were dumped to the east of the house by the previous owner. This means that the house is in a hole, resulting in serious drainage problems. In addition, the existing foundation is a mess. It was apparently composed of two parts, one probably being the basement of the cabin that originally stood on the site, and a second section that was dug out when the present house was built. Some of the foundation consists of large chunks of broken concrete, and there is a variety of other materials. So the first thing that has to be done is to raise the house and build a new foundation.
Another issue that could impact the reconstruction is that the county has long-range plans to widen Cornell Road and it’s unclear whether that would necessitate moving the house. And once the house is in place on a new foundation, it will have to be basically re-built from the walls in—electrical, plumbing, insulation, heating, windows and walls will all need to be replaced. We’re hoping that local builders will want to get involved at that point.
As part of its 2010-2011 budget, the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD) Board of Directors approved an additional $10,000. Although the district has not yet determined how the money will be used, it could fund engineering studies to determine the extent and types of work necessary.
Chris Nestlerode, an architect who has been volunteering his time to work with the district, says, “The money that is earmarked could get us into the design review process. I think that it will be just enough to get a final land-use decision with a master plan to show the location of the house. Once we have that, we can start on the process of construction drawings. Once we have plans, we can go for a heritage grant that could pay for a majority of the construction costs.”
Some have suggested that the district should develop the half-acre property that goes with the house into a park while the engineering studies and subsequent fundraising are done. THPRD is understandably reluctant to invest money into landscaping and development that may then need to be demolished. District spokesman Bob Wayt says, “We remain committed to our master plan. We believe it makes more sense for the house to be upgraded first. Our concern is that if the grounds were improved first, they could in turn be damaged by subsequent work on the house, which will include trenching for new utility lines and replacement of the foundation.”
The Friends of the JQA Young House committee was formed in 2009 to do fundraising for the project. A small amount of money has already been raised, and is being held for the project, but the serious fundraising can begin once the engineering studies are completed.
The Tualatin Hills Park Foundation (THPF), the fundraising organization for THPRD projects, is run by a Board of Trustees which, working with THPRD management, has recently restructured the organization, appointing Lynda Myers as the Executive Director and hiring Bob Schultz as Director of Development. Schulz has extensive experience with corporate and foundation giving. It is hoped that he will use his expertise to work with the Friends group to develop a fundraising plan and look for grants and donations.
When Polygon Northwest began the Timberland residential development on the former Teufel Nursery property just east of the house, they worked out an agreement with THPRD to make some improvements to the area of the Cedar Mill Falls and Creek that was included in the land purchase, in lieu of System Development Charges that they would have owed. Among other improvements, they will build a boardwalk and overlook near the falls that will also connect to the JQA Young property. Once all improvements have been completed and approved by THPRD, the area surrounding the falls and several other parcels will be transferred to the district for parks.
Timberland was annexed into Beaverton when the land was purchased from the Teufels. Because part of the boardwalk will extend onto the JQAY lot, which was in Washington County, Hal Bergsma, THPRD Director of Planning, asked that the house and grounds be annexed into Beaverton. Nestlerode feels that this is beneficial, because the expected city zoning code calls for less-rigorous setbacks than the current county code. The Beaverton City Council approved the annexation in June, and MGH Associates has submitted plans for the boardwalk to the city.
The boardwalk was named in honor of Sue Conger, who worked tirelessly to make sure the house was preserved. It will extend south from the existing boardwalk along Cornell Road, with a platform offering a view of the Falls. It will then continue to the west, ending up on east edge of the JQAY property. Much of the path will consist of ramps and landings so that most of it will be accessible.
MGH Associates provided site layout and overall design services, Western Wood Structures of Tualatin did the final boardwalk design. Construction staging will be on the east side of the JQAY lot. Projected completion is late summer or early fall, and we’re hoping that it will be done in time for the annual Cedar Mill Cider Festival on Sunday, October 17. Plan to join us once again for our fall celebration of music, barbecue and cider at Cedar Mill’s historic property.
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