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Historic essay contest targets high school kids


Preservation of Lake Oswego buildings is subject of event

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Rogers Building, shown in 1928, is a landmark known to everyone in Lake Oswego. But many other buildings are in danger of being demolished.Marylou Colver is leaving no stone unturned in her drive to preserve historic buildings in Lake Oswego, and she has come up with another gem of an idea.

The Lake Oswego Preservation Society, of which Colver is president, is sponsoring a historic preservation high school essay contest. It is an effort at getting the younger generation on board when it comes to historic preservation, and Colver and company are making it worthwhile for high schoolers to participate: First prize is $500.

“Most people interested in old buildings are my age,” Colver said. “Young people are so focused on the present. But if there was only the new, life wouldn’t be so interesting.”

Colver has a hook to pull in high school essayists.

“I get them to think about their own house not existing, or their grandparents’ house not existing,” she said. “All of the memories would be gone. Our historic buildings will be in their hands. It is not only our history that is at stake but also sustainability and economic growth.”

Colver became the godmother of historic preservation in Lake Oswego after retiring 10 years ago, and she has initiated a string of successful projects, such as the historic home tour, the Lost Landmarks Exhibit, walking tours, and continuing educating of Re/Max real estate agents so “they will know what treasures we have.” Last year she even took to the water to launch the historic boat tour on Oswego Lake and received an overwhelming response.

However, the LOPS is under a lot of pressure.

“We have some homes with historic designation,” Colver said. “But other historic homes are being demolished or altered beyond recognition.”

The only qualification to enter the contest is to be a high-school-age student living in Lake Oswego.

A prestigious panel of judges has been established for the contest: Brian Doyle, author of “Mink River”; Bill Baars, director of the Lake Oswego Public Library; and representatives of the Bank of Oswego and the city of Lake Oswego. Deadline for entry is May 15. Winners will be announced June 3. Besides the first place prize, $250 will be given for second place and $125 for third place.

Entry forms and contest guidelines can be found on the LOPS website at lakeoswegohistoryonline.com under the heading Essay Contest.

Colver has studied historic buildings with great dedication and intensity. They seem to come to their former lives when she walks around Lake Oswego.

“I know what used to be there,” she said. “It’s like moving in and out of time.”

If Colver can impart some of this fascination with the new generation, she will have accomplished her mission.