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Volume 11, Issue 8
August 2013


churchOak Hills named Historic District
By Micki Sparr, Oak Hills Oracle

On July 10, 2013, the National Parks Service named nearby subdivision Oak Hills to the National Register of Historic Places. The announcement was the final step in a more than two-year process that took many hours of volunteer effort locally, in addition to the assistance of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon.

The press release from SHPO noted that “The Oak Hills district set precedents for implementing self-governance in suburban developments through homeowner associations, progressive master planning, and flexible land use codes and regulations in Washington County. Oak Hills includes nearly 650 single family and townhouse properties and is a mix of mid-century modern homes, open and recreational space, with trails and pedestrian paths throughout, extensive landscaping, and a widely-used cluster of community buildings.”


Randy L. Rasmussen / The Oregonian

The late Charlotte Awe sits in the atrium of her 1967 Oak Hills house. The atrium, which serves as the entrance and center of Awe's home, was originally uncovered. After snow and rain fell into the middle of her home, Awe said, she asked builder Robert Rummer to add a cover. Awe's home is one of eight that was featured on the 2011 tour.

“Oak Hills epitomizes the best in post-war development, emphasizing varying residential densities, mixed uses, the incorporation of open space, and land conservation,” says Diana Painter, National Register coordinator for the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office.

Although the idea had been casually discussed for some years, the effort to become a Historic District turned to action in part as the result of the shock and dismay felt by neighbors when Washington County’s Bethany Boulevard widening project threatened the neighborhood.

Spearheaded by long-time resident Darla Castagno, a group of neighbors decided to actively pursue recognition for the neighborhood. After contacting SHPO and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (HPLO), the group organized the May 2011 Home Tour, which featured eight of the 29 Oak Hills’ “Rummers.” These innovative homes were designed by Robert Rummer, an Oregon builder. Proceeds of the tour were divided between HPLO and the local Oak Hills group.

The two-year process included holding several presentations for the neighborhood to learn about the application and what it would mean for individual homeowners as well as the neighborhood. Representatives of SHPO conducted an inventory of every home and of other historic resources in Oak Hills. The inventory was later used to prepare the nomination document submitted to the Governor-appointed State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) on February 14, 2013. SACHP voted to approve the application and forwarded it to the National Park Service for their decision.

The nomination document summarized the historic importance of the neighborhood as follows: “The nomination argues that the Oak Hills Historic District is notable for its design and as an early Planned Unit Development (PUD) that set a precedent for flexible land use codes and regulations in Washington County. The development epitomizes trends in 1960s planned community design that emphasized varying residential densities, mixed uses, open space, and land conservation. The Oak Hills Home Owners Association is also important as an example of an early Home Owners Association-governed community in the greater Portland metropolitan area. This private group is unique in that it continues to take a leadership role in managing the subdivision to this day.”

A copy of the 30 page nomination document is available on the Oak Hills Oracle website home page at



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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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© 2013