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Belluschi house still in search for permanent home

by: Sam Bennett, 
Ted Snider of the Rebuilding Center helped with the meticulous process of taking apart the Belluschi home in Lake Oswego in June. The home was put in storage and awaits a new site.

The Belluschi house could go anywhere in the United States.

But for Tia Ross, the best place for the historic house is exactly where it was built: In Lake Oswego.

Ross is advocating that the home, designed by well-known architect Pietro Belluschi, be placed in one of the city parks.

The city Parks and Recreation Department board last month denied a request to put the house in George Rogers Park. At the board meeting, residents concerned about the proposal to move the Belluschi house said it would be out of context at George Rogers Park.

'They felt that the aesthetics of this house didn't fit in with the site, in terms of looking at the long-term plans of the park,' said Kim Gilmer, director for Parks and Recreation. The 2002 master plan calls for structures that are consistent with the history of the park, using materials such as iron, stone and wood.

The proposal was to put the home in the lower portion of the park, near an existing picnic shelter.

At the board's next meeting on March 19, the panel will take another look at the issue of establishing criteria to possibly place the home at another park.

Ross said she was surprised that the idea for placing the home in George Rogers was not greeted with more enthusiasm.

'We all assumed everybody knew this would be a good thing to do,' she said. 'We think it's the best location because it's the living room of the downtown area.'

'They felt that this house, built in the 1950s, didn't fit in with the site in terms of looking at the long-term plans of the house,' said Gilmer.

The house was hauled off in pieces from its original lot on Pine Valley Road in July last year. The home was meticulously dismantled and is stored in 2,000 pieces.

The home's owner, Tim Mather, has taken offers from public and private agencies around the country to re-build the home.

But Mather and historic advocate Ross want to give the city of Lake Oswego the first chance to keep it in the public domain.

If they can't receive approval to place the home in George Rogers Park, Ross said they would still like to see it rebuilt in another local park.

If the Belluschi home is placed in a park, Ross said it could serve as a general purpose meeting room or host small weddings. It could also serve as a case study for architecture and design students.

Italian-born Belluschi designed the Portland Art Museum, the Equitable Building and the Central Lutheran Church.

He designed the Lake Oswego home in 1950. Mather said he has the original plans for the home, which features radiant floor heating and a brick fireplace.

'It lends itself well to being a public building,' said Ross.

If the city does locate the home in a park or another city-owned property, the first step will be to establish criteria for locating homes in parks, Gilmore said.

The city owns the Iron Workers Cottage near George Rogers Park. The board has kept the cottage at that site because it would lose its historic integrity if it were moved, Gilmore said.

The Belluschi house, on the other hand, can be relocated and still keep its historic integrity because of the international stature of the architect, she said.