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Holding pieces of Oswego

by: Vern Uyetake, The Oswego Heritage House — located on a prominent corner in downtown Lake Oswego, at left, — has served many uses since its construction in 1928. But its use now, as a place with archives, photographs and articles, that reminds residents of the city’s history.

When Nancy Headlee comes to work at Oswego Heritage House, she says, 'I feel like saying, 'Good morning, House!' '

Now executive director at the historic house, Headlee has had an intimate association with Heritage House almost her entire life. Her father Bill Headlee saved the house, remodeled it, and donated family possessions to the home.

'That's our piano in there,' Headlee said. 'The furniture in the parlor is mom and dad's.'

A home to many

Every Lake Oswego resident can look upon Oswego Heritage House as their home. Sitting at a commanding position at the top of the hill, as Country Club Drive turns into A Avenue, Heritage House is a symbol of this city, a popular gathering place for its citizens, and an excellent starting place for newcomers and tourists wishing to become acquainted with Lake Oswego.

In her office, sitting just below a painting of her parents, Headlee said, 'This is a great location. I feel like I'm at the top of the city, overlooking everything. It's a very pretty place to be.

'One reason I took this job is because this place was so close to mom and dad's hearts. I like following in my parents' footsteps and caring about things that were important to them.'

There's another reason, too.

'I like being part of this city,' said Headlee, whose previous positions included the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce and being executive director of the Lakewood Center for eight years. 'I like being part of what is going on.'

The Heritage House is a premier meeting spot in Lake Oswego. It is the home-base for all kinds of meetings, holiday parties and neighborhood groups.

Organizations meeting there include the American Association of University Women, Lions Club, Lake Grove Garden Club, SCORE, Lake Oswego Rotary Board, Parkinson Support Group and others.

Aside from the LO Chamber of Commerce, there may not be a better place to learn about Lake Oswego. The Heritage House is a symbol of the style and beauty this city possesses - and also a place to dip into the history and art of this community. There is a permanent display of Lake Oswego's beginnings as an iron-producing city, and there are rotating exhibits by local artists.

Sharing the city

What became Oswego Heritage House was built in 1928 by developer Paul C. Murphy and used as the office for the Ladd Estate Company. Designed by famed architect Charles Ertz in the Colonial Revival style, it features a handsome pedimented portico, mullioned windows, a symmetrical façade, and paired front doors with pedimented frames.

In 1938 the house was purchased by Dr. William H. Cane to be used both for his medical practice and his home.

The year 1997 proved to be a milestone for the Heritage House. The Oswego Heritage Council - under the leadership of board president Bill Headlee - purchased the property from the Cane estate in order to use the house as their permanent home, undergoing substantial renovation in the process.

Certainly, many local groups look upon this house as their home. But everyone is welcomed to walk right in, look around, and say hello to Headlee, who is keeping up her family's tradition. Before Headlee became executive director of the Oswego Heritage Council, her twin sister Susan served in the same position.

'I had retired after being at the Lakewood Center,' Headlee said. 'But Susan said I should come here.'

Of course, Headlee has more reason to appreciate the Heritage House than anybody.

'It could have easily been turned into two duplexes,' she said.

Instead, it is a home for all of Lake Oswego.

The Oswego Heritage House is located at 398 Tenth Street in Lake Oswego. Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 503-635-6373.

The house is the first stop on the First Annual Historic Home Tour scheduled for May 19.

Those participating can pick up their brochures and 'booties' to be used when walking through historic homes.

The tour will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be limited to 300 people. Ticket prices are $15 for Oswego Heritage Council members and $25 for non-members.