Zimmerman House gets new coat for winter

Painters recently work 1874 historic home on Sandy
by: Carole Archer, The Zimmerman House got a new paint job over the weekend.

The lovely old girl with the frilly woodwork at 17100 N.E. Sandy Blvd. has a shining new coat of paint.

Painters recently finished work on the 1874 Zimmerman House, a $28,000 project that will help the Queen Anne Victorian face another winter.

'As you know, time and the East Multnomah County weather is never on our side,' commented Dodi Davies, president of the Fairview Rockwood Wilkes Historical Society, which cares for both the Zimmerman House and Fairview's Heslin House.

Davies, who has worked on restoration of the Zimmerman House for more than 10 years, estimates that the organization has spent about $170,000 in the last decade on restoration, preservation and replacement work on the Zimmerman house, the centerpiece of the 6-acre Zimmerman Heritage Farm, a city of Gresham park.

No one denies that an old house is a money pit. In the last decade Zimmerman restorers rebuilt the foundation, upgraded the security system, restored and repaired the porch and porch roof, patched a hole in the north side of the house, replaced skirting along the bottom of the structure, stabilized the basement, repaired the chimneys and replaced the roof and gutters.

This year they were hit with failure of the furnace, leaving volunteer curators to work in gloves and sweaters until a new furnace was installed.

Davies said the society raised $11,000 toward a paint project that would have included extensive preparation and removal of all the old paint, resulting in the $60,000 estimate. But with money tight, weather closing in, and an offer of financial help from the city of Gresham, historians shaved down the project to $28,000.

To help save costs, volunteers will restore, paint and rehang the shutters.

'We started raising the money for the paint job soon after the roof was completed in 2003,' Davies said. 'We still want to get the garden room restored and finish up some stabilization under the kitchen this next year … with restoration work, the job is never done. But I'm happy to say we're not in crisis mode anymore.'

Meanwhile, the Gresham parks department is moving forward with a plan for restoration of the gardens at the home, which was occupied by members of the Jacob Zimmerman family from 1874 through 1992. Isobel Zimmerman, the last member of the family, died at age 93, bequeathing the house and 2.5 acres to the historical society.

Reporter Sharon Nesbit can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 503-492-5120.

House tours

The Zimmerman House is open for tours on the third Saturday of the month, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 17100 N.E. Sandy Blvd. On the next tour day, Saturday, Nov. 18, a new host, 11-year-old Mackenzie Erickson, who attends school in East Multnomah County, will join the volunteers at the home.

'Since four little girls were raised in the house, I thought it was especially appropriate to have a young lady as host,' said Judy Lenhart, curator. Lenhart picked this year's crop of Concord grapes from the property and made grape juice. 'Just as Isobel used to do,' Lenhart said. Mackenzie Erickson, the home's newest volunteer, will help serve the grape juice.