This month LCPS brings you a presentation by marster log builder David C. Rogers, Historical Log Work: Early Pacific Northwest Log Architecture. Please join us at the LCPS office on Saturday, Ocober 12th at 6:30 pm.
Rogers will present a historical overview of dwelling units and other structures made from natural materials. The presentation will focus on log buildings constructed from the 1850s to the 1920s. Historic log structures are incredible witnesses of our nation’s past. Preserving them is our responsibility, and a respectful gesture to our collective history. They allow us to feel the presence of our ancestors, and better understand how they lived. They give us evidence and insight into the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the work accomplished with different tools, different means and different methods.
The ongoing efforts to assess, document and restore the Lindgren Cabin will also be discussed. This hand hewn cedar cabin was built by Erik Lindgren in 1922 in the Nehalem wilderness near Soapstone Creek. It was moved to Cullaby Lake in 1969 and restored in 1981. The Clatsop Community College Historic Preservation program is working with the Finlandia Foundatioon Columbia-Pacific Chapter, with support from LCPS to address deterioration and maintenance issues.
David Rogers, with his company Logs & Timbers, has over four decades of experience designing and constructing new log cabins and preserving historic structures. David’s highly-recognized experience includes new log home design & construction, historic log structure repair, rehabilitation and restoration, preservation planning, design, timber framing, and splitting cedar logs for traditional material use. He founded the Cascadian School of Log Building & Design to empower future generations of log enthusiasts and builders to maintain the historic log buildings that represent a significant architectural component of this nation’s history.
Restore Oregon has just announced the 12 winners of the 2019 DeMuro Awards for Excellence in Preservation and Astoria's M&N Building is on the list! For more information about Restore Oregon, the DeMuro Awards and the Restoration Celebtation happening November 1st in Portland, please visit www.RestoreOregon.org.
Marcus and Michelle Liotta purchased the 8,000-square-foot M&N building on 9th and Commercial in downtown Astoria in 2016. Originally built in 1924, the building had remained vacant and derelict for 20 years under the ownership of Astoria’s infamous Flavel family. The enforcement of a derelict building ordinance, adopted in 2011 by the City of Astoria, finally forced the last remaining Flavel to release her Astoria holdings. Since their purchase of the property in 2016, Marcus and Michelle Liotta have diligently proceeded to shore-up, restore, and put back to use, this prominent downtown landmark. The building now houses five businesses in clean and colorful storefronts.
Time and neglect had not been kind to the building. Obvious cracks and settling, crumbling sidewalks and broken windows had been detracting from the beauty of the building for two full decades. Considered historically significant within the Astoria Downtown Historic District for both its association with the Flavel family (the building is named after Captain George Flavel’s wife and daughter) and because the brick veneer and terra cotta rosettes give it a higher-style than many of downtown’s finished concrete facades, the structure recently appeared to be on its last leg. In 2016, it was placed on Restore Oregon’s list of Most Endangered Places.
Thanks to the Liottas and their team, the M&N Building has been structurally stabilized. Along with the addition of more than 20 steel earth-anchors beneath the building, the once delaminating brick veneer and terra-cota has been restored, broken sidewalks and broken windows have been replaced, transoms have been uncovered, and freahly painted storefronts have been filled with new tenants. A sad corner of Astoria’s downtown has blossomed into a vibrant shop and restaurant space, while maintaining the original charm of the building and retaining some visual reminders of the building’s turbulent history.
In addition to being a quality example of thoughtful physical restoration and problem-solving engineering, witnessing the restoration of the M&N Building has been a cathartic experience for much of the local community. The building was the subject of over twenty articles in the Daily Astorian over the past decade, most being tied to uncertainty about the building’s future. The story of the Flavel family is one of wealth, prestige, mystery, misunderstanding and abundant local gossip. The restoration of the M&N building begins a new and distinctly positive chapter for our community. It also demonstrates that the City of Astoria’s enforcement of derelict building code can have a dramatic and positive impact on both economic development and community morale. Current tenants include; South Bay Wild fish market & restaurant, Terra Stones jewelry and gifts; Hill’s Wild Flour’s Bakery, Wild Roots Movement & Massage and the Liotta’s own Reclamation Marketplace.
UPDATE: The M&N Building was also awarded Best Historic Preservation Project at the 2019 Oregon Main Street Conference!
Members of Lower Columbia Preservation Society are invited to tour five historic churches in Pacific & Wahkiakum counties on Saturday, September 21, between 10am and 2pm. These churches include: St. Mary’s Catholic Church at McGowan, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chinook, Chinook Methodist Church (formerly The Sanctuary), Naselle Lutheran Church, and Deep River Pioneer Lutheran Church.
Tour brochures will be available for pick-up at the LCPS office (389 12th Street, Astoria) Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 1:30-5:30 PM. LCPS members will also receive a PDF version of the brochure via email. Additional printed copies will be available at each site beginning at 10 AM on the morning of the tour.
The church buildings will be open from 10 AM until 2 PM and we encourage you to to explore at your own pace and in your own chosen order. There will be a representative at each site to help guide your visit and to answer your questions.
This tour is open to current LCPS members, as well as their family and friends. There is no cost for this event but we do ask that you encourage others interested in this tour to become members of Lower Columbia Preservation Society.
You may have noticed a dramatic change Astoria's Shively-McClure historic district between 14th and 15th streets on Irving Avenue. This summer the historic Sanford Garage, formerly located at 1440 Irving Ave., was carefully deconstructed.
The Sanford Garage was built as an automobile repair garage by Milton Holbrook Sanford around 1924. Sanford moved to Astoria from West Orange, New Jersey in 1906. By 1910, he was listed in the Astoria city directory as a gas engineer and was rooming with the George Smith family. In 1913, he was boarding at the home of Annie Hawes (widow of hardware salesman and pipe-fitter Edwin R. Hawes). In 1914, Milton married into the prominent Hawes family, marrying Annie and Edwin’s daughter, Ione. The newlyweds immediately moved into 426 14th Street, (now 828 14th Street).
The Sanford’s owned and lived in the 14th Street house until sometime after Milton’s death in 1955. Ione’s mother, Annie, moved in with the couple in March of 1921, after a fire (originating in the Andrew Cafe) completely destroyed the Hawes business block at the corner of 11th and Bond. Annie had been living above the restaurant at the time of the fire. She continued to live with Milton and Ione until her death in 1938.
Milton, who was listed in the West Orange directory as an engineer prior to his moving out west, continued to install and repair gasoline engines after moving to Astoria. An early automobile enthusiast, Milton was a registered owner of a Studebaker and held an Oregon chauffeur license in 1915.
It appears from Sanborn maps that the garage on Irving Ave. was built in or before 1924. The address (then 620 or 624 Irving Ave.) is listed under “automobile repairers” in the city directory of 1925. During the 1930 U.S. Census, Milton is listed as an automobile machinist working on his own account.
The Sanford Garage was a unique structure within the largely residential neighborhood. The home in which the Sanford’s lived, tucked back from the street, is accessed down a long tree lined driveway. Historic photos of the area indicate that the home, one of the oldest of the neighborhood, originally sat on a quarter-block with perhaps a small orchard and a picket fence surrounding the property. A duplex now stands on the corner of 14th and Irving, but was not yet built when the Sanford Garage was constructed. There was originally a one car garage built to the east of the main garage and at least two other auto-garages were built on the property between 1936 and 1954.
The Sanford Garage structure was much larger than an average urban residential garage, measuring 50 feet long and 26 feet wide. It is unknown if Milton originally envisioned renting out the space for communal neighborhood car storage or if that was simply an evolution of its use after-the-fact. The structure included many of the accouterments of an early commercial, multi-use garage including; a loft for auto-part storage, an office, a hoist and a turntable to eliminate the need for backing up.
Automobile-club garages and shared neighborhood storage were both popular enterprises at the time the garage was built. It seems that by the late 1930s the space was being used as a car “livery” for other automobile owners. By the 1940 U.S. Census, Milton no longer listed his occupation as a machinist or engineer.: he was, by then, listed as the owner of a storage garage.
The only other comparable structures that come to mind are those that are part of the Fornas Complex on Grand Ave. in Uppertown Astoria. The Fornas garages were likely built as leasable automobile spaces and not as a commercial or communal shop space, making the Sanford Garage the last of its type in the heart of Astoria.
In August of 2018 Tim Janchar, the current owner of both the associated home and the Sanford Garage, requested to demolish the garage structure and replace it with a newly constructed “art space” containing one and one-half baths, a second floor loft space and a full kitchen. Because the garage was a contributing resource in the Shively-McClure historic district and because it was adjacent to other historic properties, this request required review by the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). There were also questions about whether or not new construction on the site could take advantage of the historic non-conforming setbacks of the original building.
City staff supported the initial application for demolition of the garage stating, “By constructing a new structure that closely matches the existing structure, the historic streetscape would be preserved.” However, several concerns were raised at the public hearings, including that the applicant’s proposed changes to the footprint, the setback, and the height of the new building would in fact dramatically alter the streetscape and further muddy historic interpretation of the site. It was also unfortunate that these hearings were not properly noticed to the public (a sign was not placed at the site). Having heard our concerns and those of the Historic Landmark Commission, the owner withdrew his application with the understanding that he would reapply after consulting with other designers, contractors and historians.
In April of 2019, Tim Janchar reapplied for a certificate of appropriateness for the deconstruction and then reconstruction of the garage building. With the assistance of Kris Haefker, the owner had redesigned the plan to incorporate more of the original character and to reuse substantial amounts of the original material. The Historic Landmarks Commission approved this request, with the conditions that the old garage not be demolished until new construction would begin, that the south facade be constructed with reclaimed wood from the original building, and that both the exterior and interior would be thoroughly documented prior to demolition.
Prior to the May HLC decision, the roof had been removed and by the end of June, the historic Sanford Garage was completely deconstructed. As of August 15th the building permit for the new structure had yet to be issued, although HLC had stated this as a condition for obtaining a demolition permit. We are eager to witness the construction of the new structure and are hopeful that the design will remain true to plans submitted to and approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission. Substantial changes to the plans would require further HLC review but some alterations could be approved administratively by community development staff.
We will continue to post updates as reconstruction begins!
Restore Oregon has asked us to help get the word out about the Public Participation in Preservation Act and how these potential changes could help "fix Oregon's broken system of historic preservation." SB 927 would align management of historic resources with the rest of our land use laws, repeal the state-wide owner consent law and encourage communities to adopt historic resource programs that identify, designate and protect historic resources via public process.
While Astoria has already developed and adopted a historic resource program, we are in favor of encouraging other communities in Oregon to do the same. We hope SB 927 will provide direction for communities throughout the state, encourage public participation and ultimately save historic sites and structures.
During Astoria's most recent historic property inventory, the city provided notice to owners allowing them to "opt-out" of any resulting landmark designations. Nothing in SB 927 would prohibit the city from continuing to provide property owners with an “opt-out” option during future inventory projects. The game-changer is that it would allow the city to adopt code changes in the future (via public process) that could potentially grant historic designation against the wishes of the owner. These changes in our development code would happen only if our community decided that such code changes were necessary to protect our resources.
We imagine that the most significant potential change would be in cases of undesignated, historically significant buildings that appear at-risk for demolition. This law would allow our city to involve all members of the community who would be impacted by the potential loss. It would allow our local decision-makers the ability to designate these buildings (if they meet objective criteria for determining historic significance) as local landmarks. Once designated, any request to demolish these properties would be reviewed by our Historic Landmarks Commission and hopefully, solutions other than demolition could be found.
SB 929 creates valuable economic incentives for the rehabilitation of historic properties that will be used as multi-unit housing or for qualified seismic retrofitting of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings. SB 929 will save landmark buildings throughout Oregon by incentivizing historically appropriate renovation while creating needed housing and improving public safety.
For December's Topics in Preservation, please join us for a fun and interesting discussion about historic catalog, kit and mail-order homes. For an entertaining introduction to Sears mail-order homes, you may want to listen to the podcast "The House that Came in the Mail" by 99% Invisible or visit the Sears Archives. Clatsop Community College has also recently added a few intriguing titles to their collection including Houses by mail: a guide to houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company by Katherine Cole Stevenson and H. Ward Jandl and the Aladdin "built in a day" house catalog, 1917 by the Aladdin Company.
There were several companies that produced full building kits (plans, lumber, finishes and hardware) and many of the styles were similar between different companies. There are specific details that can prove that a home is a Sears, Aladdin, Bennett, etc. but many homes were also built using catalog plans but utilizing local lumber and materials. These were often customized on site and are harder to identify. Other homes have been remodeled over the years and are no longer recognizable as signature home models.
Below are photos from advertisements for the Honor Bilt "Crescent" and the Bennett "Sanford."
Have you seen any homes in Astoria that look similar?
Do you believe your home is a kit or catalog home? Let us know here.
Join us on December 19th to discuss our findings!