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Living in the style of settlers

Preservation Fair Saturday will help old and new homes


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Homes built more than 100 years ago offer a glimpse into century-old style.  NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGENSettlers of Forest Grove may not have foreseen LED light bulbs, metal roofs or earthquake-proof foundations in their 1800s homes, but they’d likely be happy to know that more than 100 years later, the structures are still standing.

The history and character of the city’s early homes — with walls repainted to match a new decade’s fashion, shingles weathering every storm since the town’s foundation, rooms that were witness to generations long grown up and driveways that once welcomed home horses and buggies — have stood still while the town transformed itself over time.

Forest Grove is home to 235 historic buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s constituting three historic districts throughout town, according to Community Development Planner James Reitz. There are 33 similar city-designated structures outside the districts as well.

The traditional architecture, vintage knickknacks and antique appendages of historic homes all add to their charm and allure, but updates and improvements to hundreds-of-years-old homes keep them fit for modern living and for generations to come.

Forest Grove’s Historic Landmarks Board will observe National Historic Preservation Month with its third annual Preservation Fair, where owners of homes new and old will find tips for comfort, style and longevity.

Professionals specializing in various fields, from sustainable building to landscaping, will come together Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to share their historic-homes expertise.

“We felt this was really good for Forest Grove,” said board member George Cushing. “There’s a lot of history in our town as one of the first settlements in Oregon.”

Mary Jo Morelli of Sojourn Forest Grove will give tours of the historic Central School building at 1728 Main St., which now houses the local school district’s administrative offices and where the fair will be held. She’ll also be there to talk about the distinguished history of Forest Grove homes and promote the walking tours she guides throughout the year.

“It’s important for people in historic homes to know what resources are available to them,” she said. “And understanding those who came before helps direct us as we look to our future.”

Ismoon Hunter-Morton of the Forest Grove City Library will also discuss the library’s Eric Stewart Collection, which details much of the city’s history through the late Stewart’s collection of notes, clippings, photos and more.

Trees ‘don’t last forever’

David Hunter, a certified arborist, will be on hand to answer questions about preserving historic trees, planting new ones and to highlight the Forest Grove historic tree registry.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Forest Grove boasts three historic districts. Hunter’s number-one tip for caring for Oregon White Oaks, which make up a lot of the registry, is to “stop watering your lawn.” These trees were meant to grow in the savannahs, he said, and wet roots often lead to diseases such as shoe-string root, which property owners can recognize by tree canopies that leaf out poorly. Irrigation, compacted soil from construction and building and poor tree placement all lead to problems.

“Trees don’t last forever,” Hunter said.

If the time comes to replace a tree, it’s important to plant the right tree for the right space, said Hunter, who is vice chairman of the Community Forestry Commission and teaches classes on proper tree planting.

Sustainable design

Drew Ackerlund of American Barnwood reclaims old wood from barns and other structures to create modern flooring, cabinetry, furniture and more. Ackerlund, who has installed reclaimed wood flooring in Street of Dreams homes, will be on hand Saturday to talk shop.

For improvements and remodeling in historic homes, it’s all about being able to “match original types of materials and materials that are authentic. You can retrofit, add and restructure with materials and matching woods that are the same vintage,” Ackerlund said.

Using reclaimed elements is just as easy as buying new ones, said Ackerlund, and the more nail nicks and saw marks the better — it only adds more character.

Just like Ackerlund, Ira Wyatt of North Plains is passionate about efficiency, reusing materials and reducing waste.

Wyatt is a general contractor specializing in sustainable building who stresses using non-toxic, renewable, durable and long-lasting materials.

He grew up working in construction. “I saw a lot of waste, inefficiency and bad design, and I’ve been a part of a lot of waste” in past jobs, Wyatt said.

Now, he helps clients build new homes and improve existing ones with choices that are healthy, durable and cost-saving. “It’s better for you and for the environment if you don’t have to make it and replace it five times. Just do it right once.”

Wyatt is a fan of natural fiber carpets that haven’t been treated with chemicals; metal roofs that can last a century and are recyclable; windows that make use of natural daylight; and insulation that’s carcinogen-free.

Representatives from Earthquake Tech will also be at the fair to discussion foundations in older homes and improvements to help ensure durability during earthquakes. Indow Windows employees will answer questions about indoor storm windows; Katya Duncan of Grayson Reality will discuss how to market a historic home; and Gene Malizia and Jim Duncan of Weston Homes will also be on hand to share historic-home renovation ideas.

The event has grown since last year due to interest, Cushing said. “We want to preserve our history. We want to look back and say ‘that’s where we came from.’ That’s what makes Forest Grove so special.”



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