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Development removing two vintage homes in Sellwood-Westmoreland

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SOUTHEAST HISTORY


Photo Credit: EILEEN G. FITZSIMONS - What lies in store for this recently-sold property, formerly the home The Shabby Nest Antiques, at the corner of 13th and Lambert Streets in Sellwood, is yet unclear. Changes are afoot for two vintage houses at opposite ends of the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood.

One, a single family house on the south side of S.E. Harold Street between Milwaukie and 17th Avenues, is boarded up and its days are numbered.

According to a presentation at the November General Meeting of SMILE, the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood association, the new property owner, Mark Wilde, intends to replace the one-and-a half story single family residence with a two-story, fourteen-unit apartment building.

The existing house backs onto an alley, which will offer a handicapped entrance, but Wilde’s plan provides no on-site parking, since none is required by the city at present.

Constructed in 1904, the house is one of the oldest surviving structures in the Midway Annex subdivision, registered with Multnomah County in 1902. The Midway Annex is a narrow plat of four blocks, running west to east between Milwaukie Avenue and 20th Avenue on both sides of Harold Street. The four blocks of the plat were originally divided by a single north-south street.

Later, Southeast 17th and 18th Streets were extended and eliminated at least four lots. Like most of our neighborhood, the structures that lie within Midway Annex are a mix of ages and styles.

For almost 75 years the house at 1636 S.E. Harold was occupied by members of the Henzel family. Beginning in 1906 this included Joseph, a house painter, and his wife Mary; and later sons Benjamin and Richard. By 1958, a sister or daughter Rose Henzel, now the widow Rose (Mrs. Casper) Flink, was living in the home. Her son George C. Flink remained in the house until the 1980’s.

Later it became a rental, and two years before it was sold, several nuisance complaints were filed with the city. This included bags of garbage accumulating on the porch and back yard, and an illegally-installed wood stove that emitted sparks and clouds of black smoke.

The house has been vacant for almost a year and was finally partially boarded up in late 2014. Unfenced, it sits empty and derelict. Its continuing decline is disheartening because of the structure’s architectural details, and its placement on its lot. It perches on a high bank, and its deep setback creates a large yard facing Harold. The upper story has a narrow gambrel roof, but its most pleasing feature is a deep wrap-around front porch. The wide overhanging roof (or regular painting by the Henzels) has protected the slender porch pillars from the weather, and they appear to be in good condition. The surviving tendrils of an old wisteria still cling to the edge of the porch roof.

The second house, at 7805 S.E. 13th, is at the southwest corner of Lambert Street, may also be destined for removal and development, but its fate is not yet known.

For the past two years it has been the location of Shabby Nest Antiques. The business owner was pleased with her location, but unhappily her lease was not renewed. She told this reporter that she does not know who the owners are or to whom the property has been sold. It is unclear if the sale includes the vacant lot to the south, which in former years was the location of another house.

According to county records, the property has belonged to Jennifer and Richard Richter since 1999. The couple lives in Northeast Portland, but their listed phone number is “no longer in service”. Behind the two-story Four-Square style house several new town homes are currently under construction, replacing a much-remodeled multi-story rooming house that spanned two 50x100 foot lots.

The Shabby Nest building had been a single-family home from its construction in 1906 until the transformation of S.E. 13th Avenue into “Antique Row” in the 1970’s.

From the late 1920’s into the mid-1950’s the house was occupied by John L. Robinson and his wife Lulu. During those years Mr. Robinson held various positions with the interurban car-line, as car-man, conductor, and train operator.

By 1955 the new owners of the home were Elmer and Mabel Clem, who owned and operated the Sellwood Cycle Company at 8057 S.E. 13th (near Gino’s Restaurant). The Clems remained in their home until the mid-1970’s, and then moved to North Portland.

In 1979, a new owner applied for a zoning change to allow partial commercial use of the structure as an antique business. For a $30.00 fee the city allowed the change, as long as the business operators lived on site. Soon afterward it became “The Old House on 13th Avenue Antiques”, managed by Terri Plowman and Daniel Summers.

Later businesses in the structure were the Allen House, and most recently The Shabby Nest. The future use of the house is not yet publicly known, but updates will be forthcoming in THE BEE.