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 support the Public Participation in Preservation Act and to help get the word out about how these 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 alternative 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.
LCPS urges you to support both SB 927 and SB 929. This legislation will reduce the demolition of historic structures throughout Oregon and will allow each community to decide which buildings are essential to the preservation of their own unique character.
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!
Join us on Sunday, December 9th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Lower Columbia Preservation Society office for a holiday open house and cookie potluck.
Bring your favorite holiday snacks to share and we will provide coffee, tea and other festive holiday refreshments.
LCPS members will be taken on a "behind the curtain" tour of the nearby Liberty Theater!
Hope to see you soon and Happy Holidays from LCPS.
The uniquely shaped historic "Gilbaugh Apartments" building located at 1555-1561 Exchange Street in Astoria was one of several apartment buildings bequeathed to the Lower Columbia Preservation Society by Roberta Stramiello in 2007. Stained deep red with white trim when the Stramiellos first purchased the building, Tony and Roberta chose to paint the exterior a solid shade of brown.
In 2015, Bob and Cindy Magie purchased the property from LCPS and they have been diligently restoring and rehabilitating the building, inside and out, ever since. If you have driven or walked by it lately, you will have noticed a lot of shingle repair/replacement and that they have brought back a contrasting trim color to highlight the windows and decorative brackets.
Thank you to the LCPS members who joined us for an opportunity to visit the building's new stewards, learn about the projects they have undertaken, and tour one of the freshly revitalized apartments.
What is the role of historic reconstruction within the field of historic preservation? In The Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings, the Secretary of the Interior "establishes limited opportunities to re-create a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure or object in all new materials."
Historic reconstructions were immensely popular during the 1950s, as were many other roadside attractions, but in 1966, the Special Committee on Historic Preservation of the U.S. Conference of Mayors published a report, With Heritage So Rich, labeling them as "...expensive life-size toys, manufactured for children of all ages who have forgotten how to read." On the other hand, many historians, preservationists and cultural resource managers defend the practice as a valuable way to provide tangible, three-dimensional, site-specific representations of significant moments in history.
Reconstructions in the Astoria area include the blockhouse at Fort Astoria Park (built in 1856), the 1852 U.S. Customs House in Uppertown (built in 1994), and Fort Clatsop at Lewis & Clark National Historical Park (1955 and 2006). The reconstruction of Fort Clatsop is of particularly interest in the discussion of historic reconstruction, as the "original" reconstruction (built in the 1950s) burned to the ground in 2004. The National Park Service was then tasked with the decision of how closely they would stick to the design of the "original" reconstruction when they chose to rebuild. Would they use new information gathered over the past 50 years to improve the authenticity of the site?
Join us at the LCPS office on the evening of Wednesday, September 19th at 6:30pm to participate in a friendly and lively discussion about the role of historic reconstructions in the field of historic preservation and interpretation.
LCPS Members will receive an email invitation with links to recommended reading on the topic at least one week prior to the discussion date. Topics in Preservation discussions will be a monthly event, taking place on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. October 17th discussion topic will be demolition of historic resources.
As of August 27th, 2018, Lower Columbia Preservation Society has officially entered into a formal agreement with the City of Astoria for LCPS to maintain and improve Customs House Park for the benefit of the general public. This decision was prompted by public discussions earlier this year, in which Astoria City Council considered the possibility of selling the site (which would require that the historic reconstruction be moved). LCPS believes that the siting of this reconstruction (although 200 feet east of the original site) is important to the accurate interpretation of Astoria's history as the location of the first U.S. Customs office on the Pacific Coast.
The original customhouse in Astoria was built in late 1849 and destroyed by fire in 1852. No photographs or drawings exist of that original building and the only known description of it is that it was “very neat, plain and of course pretty.” The reconstruction, built between 1992 and 1994, is based on photographs and documents of the customhouse built in 1852.
John Adair was appointed “Collector of Customs for the District of Oregon and Inspector of Revenue for the Port of Astoria, in the Territory of Oregon” by President James K. Polk in August of 1848. His duty was “...to assume the right to collect duties and revenue from other countries on their outgoing cargoes of timber and wheat and imports of European and Oriental goods.” Originally, Adair did business from his home before building the original customhouse on his own property.
The area around the customhouse became known as “Adairsville,” and was over a mile from the more prominent Shively and McClure districts to the west. For a period of time, no road connected Adairsville to the main town of Astoria and access was only by boat. The customs service was moved to the downtown area in 1861. A new stone customshouse and post-office was built in central Astoria in 1874. The 1852 customhouse was demolished in 1901.
This fall, Clatsop Community College's historic preservation students will assess, document and restore/replace exterior siding and woodwork on the building. The reconstruction was completed using methods, tools and materials of the original construction and will provide the preservation students the opportunity to learn woodworking techniques, rot repair and facade restoration.
Join LCPS in celebrating the history of Astoria's public park sites on August 4th, 2018! Meet us at Shively Hall for food, education and activities starting at 1PM. Then visit other historic sites between 2-4PM and be greeted by interpretive guides who will illuminate the history of each park. Shively Hall will be open for refreshments and socializing from 1-4 PM. Two adult entries to the Shively Hall per LCPS membership or $5.00 per adult can be paid same-day at the hall. Kids are welcome at no additional charge.