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Preservation battle likely over Christie Building


Value of Lake Oswego land makes historic places vulnerable to developers

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Christie Building, here shown early in the 20th century with orphans and nuns, is still being used today on the campus of Marylhurst University.  But its future as a historic landmark is in question.An historic preservationist’s work is never done. Especially in Lake Oswego.

Marylou Colver and her colleagues at the Lake Oswego Preservation Society are getting ready for another hearing that will determine the fate of an historic landmark in the city. This time, it’s the Christie Building on the campus of Marylhurst University, which was built by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1908.

It’s a beautiful old building, still functional, very historical, and Colver and company even have the law on their side. But that may not be enough to save the Christie Building, and Colver is urging those who favor historic preservation to attend a hearing before the Historical Resources Advisory Board at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Lake Oswego’s City Hall.

“It’s a magnificent building. It’s the oldest building on Marylhurst’s campus,” Colver said of the Christie Building. “But the land it’s on is so valuable. There is so much of that going on now in Lake Oswego.”

Colver said that since the preservation society was formed in 2011, it has been involved in six cases where de-listing was sought for an historic landmark property. In addition to the Christie Building, the society currently is trying to protect the Carman House, which was built in 1857 at what is now the corner of Carman Drive and Wlimot Way and is considered the oldest house in Lake Oswego. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for Thursday before the Land Use Board of Appeals.

The difference in the two cases is that in 1990, when the Carman House was awarded an historic landmark designation, the owner of the property did not file an objection.

But Colver said the case is very complicated.

“Even though there was no objection filed at the time, their attorney may argue that the current owners (Youth Villages, based in Tennessee) should have the right to have the property de-listed,” Colver said.

The current owner of the Christie Building has not yet declared a reason for seeking that de-listing, Colver said, but in past cases the de-listing was sought in order to sell the property to developers.

Colver has lined up some allies, including the organization Help Restore Oregon. But her support is thin.

“There is not a strong appreciation for historic preservation here,” Colver said. “We really have so few people with us.”

She hopes that changes, she said, because there are only 62 Lake Oswego sites with historic landmark designations left, and six of them could well have their historic status removed.

For more about the Lake Oswego Preservation Society, go to www.lakeoswegopreservationsociety.org.