Bringing history home
Oswego Heritage Council's popular tour offers unique insights into the lifestyles of Lake Oswego's past and present residents
On Nov. 29, 1945, Ralph and Pansey Coan hosted Gen. Jonathan Wainwright at their Lake Oswego home.
Wainwright, the Allied commander in the Philippines during World War II, spent three years as a prisoner of war and received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was on his way from Seattle to San Francisco when he stopped at the North Shore home, lunching there with the family and Mayor Earl Riley and enjoying the view of Oswego Lake.
The Coan House is perhaps the single most formal historic home remaining in Lake Oswego, says Katie Henry, executive director of the Oswego Heritage Council. Its a beautiful house on the lake, with spectacular views from the living room and the master bedroom.
On May 14, those views will be on display for the public to see when the council hosts its ninth Historic Homes Tour, featuring four houses in Lake Oswego, a public site at Luscher Farm and the Belluschi Pavilion at Marylhurst University.
The goal of the tour, Henry says, is to inspire community members to think about historic preservation in new and exciting ways and to share the stories each house can tell.
More than anything, she says, we want people to be really excited about the homes on the tour and see what history has to bring to life for them.
Only 300 tickets are available for the tour, which is scheduled from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on May 14. As always, the featured homes must be at least 50 years old and not be significantly modified, so that the characteristics of the original house can still be viewed. Even when items like kitchen cabinets have been redone, they must strongly resemble the original fixtures.
The people who work on the houses try to keep it in line with the style in which it was built, Henry says. Really, its homeowners being willing to be a part of this mission to promote historic preservation.
Docents will be on hand at each of the locations to answer questions about each homes architectural past. Tickets are $25 for OHC members and $30 for non-members; they can be purchased online at www.oswegoheritage.org/historic-home-tour-1 or by visiting Oswego Heritage House, 398 10th St. in Lake Oswego.
In addition to the Coan House, other homes on the tour include the Strong/Channing House, the Bowdoin House and the Finch House, all of which are named after their original owner to keep the location and current owners a secret prior to the tour.
The Coan House is the second-oldest of the four properties. Built in 1933, it was designed by local architect Jamison Parker in the Colonial Revival style. But its stucco siding and hipped roof suggest a strong French Norman influence.
The Strong/Channing House was built about 11 years earlier and offers a profound view of the Willamette River. It was designed as a free-standing Dutch Colonial, a popular style of the 1920s. Its kitchen is an Art Deco masterpiece, and in 1940, its Mediterranean courtyard won The Oregonians Outdoor Living contest and the accompanying $100 prize.
This house is an excellent example of a house that has been transformed by multiple owners many times, Henry says. Each decade has left its mark, making it a wonderful example of how historic homes can adapt to suit each generation.
Built in 1940, the Bowdoin House has stood watch on one of Lake Oswegos major thoroughfares for more than 75 years, surrounded by towering fir trees that are as old as the city itself. The home, which was originally designed as a two-bedroom, one-bath Cape Cod cottage, was reoriented by its current owners as traffic in Lake Oswego increased. The result: a main entrance on
the other side of the house and a new address.
The Finch house was designed by architect Curt Finch for use as his personal residence and completed in 1965. The current owner is Finchs daughter, who bought the home in 2000 in an effort to preserve the legacy of her fathers design. The Mid-Century Modern home has a strong Japanese influence, with the original fireplace still siting on its raised brick hearth.
Luscher Farms historic buildings also are included on the tour. So is the Belluschi Pavilion, designed by renowned architect Pietro Belluschi as a private home in 1951, which now serves as a public space on the Marylhurst University campus. Both will be profiled in The Reviews special LO Monthly section on May 5.
For tickets and more information about the tour, go to www.oswegoheritage.org.