Lake Oswego city councilors handed out three Historic Preservation Merit Awards on Tuesday to recipients who have worked to preserve Lake Oswego's "historic past."
Winners of the awards, which are recommended by the City's Historic Resources Advisory Board, are usually individuals. But this year, all three awards went to groups or organizations:
-- The Oswego Heritage Council received an award for the development of the Oswego Heritage House Museum;
-- The Lake Oswego Preservation Society received an award for its efforts to protect the Carman House; and
-- Safeway Inc. received an award for preserving a mural that covers an entire wall inside the company's A Avenue grocery store.
The Oswego Heritage House and Museum sits at the west end of downtown near the intersection of A Avenue and 10th Street. It features a permanent Oswego History Exhibit that teaches about local Native American history, as well as a revolving exhibit that focuses on Heritage Council events.
The house was built in 1928 by Paul Murphy and designated an historic landmark in 1990. It was purchased by the Oswego Heritage Council to serve as the group's headquarters, but required extensive renovation to restore it to its current condition. The group's efforts resulted in the removal of overgrown plants on the property, the restoration of the house's three original rooms and the addition of an exhibit space and kitchen.
"The Oswego Heritage Council is honored to receive HRAB's award celebrating our completion of the Oswego Heritage Museum — the first History of Lake Oswego museum in town," said Nancy Niland, the Heritage House's executive director. "This was an incredible team effort and we are grateful for the acknowledgement."
Last year, the Lake Oswego Preservation Society won the final round of a four-year court battle to ensure the continued survival of the historic Carman House in Lake Oswego. The two-story house on Carman Drive, which was built in 1857 by pioneer couple Waters and Lucretia Carman, is one of just 43 remaining historic landmarks in Lake Oswego.
The house was designated as an historic landmark in 1990, but the current owners — who are descended from the Carmans — sought to have the designation removed in 2013. The City Council granted the request, but the Preservation Society filed an objection, setting off an escalating legal battle that ended when the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the house's designation in 2016.
"We are delighted to be recognized for our five years of preservation advocacy, which culminated in a unanimous Oregon Supreme Court ruling to save Lake Oswego's Carman House along with 3,200 historic properties across the state," said Marylou Colver, the Society's founder and president.
The third award went to Aaron Siegel of Safeway for the chain's efforts to restore and maintain a mural that was designed and created by Norwegian artist Arvid Orbeck when the grocery store was originally constructed on A Avenue.
Safeway commissioned the mural to adorn the building's front wall, but it was covered by drywall in 2003 when a new front exterior wall was added to the store during a remodel. When Orbeck's wife, Shirley Orbeck, learned that the store was planning another remodel last year, she became concerned that the company would demolish the artwork, which does not have any kind of historic designation or protection.
Safeway spokeswoman Jill McGinnis says the company received a strong response from the community in favor of keeping the mural, and the store opted to restore it and maintain it as part of the remodeled floral department.
"Our Lake Oswego store is extremely proud to be receiving this award, for what simply seems like doing the right thing," she said. "The community here has been so gracious. We couldn't ask for a better town in which to do business."