Historic building from territorial era might be headed toward demolition

by: LAKE OSWEGO PRESERVATION SOCIETY - The Carman House is shown in this photo as it was in the 1950s. Lake Oswego preservationists want the 158-year-old home to continue being a historic landmark.The Carman House, the oldest home in Lake Oswego and a designated historical landmark, will be the subject of a hearing on Wednesday night.

The current owners, who are descendants of Oregon pioneer Waters Carman, have applied to remove the landmark designation in order to demolish the house and develop the 1.25 acre property on 3811 Carman Drive.

The Lake Oswego Preservation Society hopes an alternative action can be found.

“We would like to create a scenario to retain the house,” said Marylou Colver, founder of the preservation society. “I hope we can sit down and talk about it before the meeting. We haven’t heard back yet from the owners.”

Colver and her Lake Oswego historical preservation comrades have plenty of reasons for maintaining Carman House, which was constructed in 1855, as a landmark.

“This house was built before before Lincoln was president and before Oregon became a state,” Colver said. “There is no other territorial-era house around here.”

In 2011, the LOPS tried to nominate the Carman House as one of Oregon’s most endangered places. The nomination was unsuccessful, but since then the local preservationists have found the historical worth of the house is even greater than they thought. After a state historical preservation survey was taken, Colver said, “We now realize how scarce houses like this are.”

The Carman House is far from being a dilapidated wreck. It has been used as a residence by a member of the Carman family since it was built. In addition, Colver personally attended an estate sale at the house in 2012 and found that the house is still in very good shape.

“It needs maintenance but it can be lived in,” she said.

The society will be seeking to build a good case for preservation at the meeting, set to be held before the Lake Oswego Historical Resources Advisory Board at 7 p.m. at Lake Oswego City Hall at 380 A Ave. The meeting is open to the public. Written testimony must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday to Senior Planner Leslie Hamilton.

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