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City is attempting to tear down piece of history

I am always sad to see of a piece of history destroyed. Now, it appears that West Linn is about to lose another historic dwelling.

The city of West Linn has begun the process of “deconstructing” the century-old farmhouse located on the property of Fields Bridge Park. The city-owned home, which has been allowed to rot for more than a decade, has been determined to be unsalvageable or not at a price the city of West Linn is willing to pay. With its destruction, our future generations will lose one of our community connections to our rural farming past. This turn-of-the-20th century home stands on the original property of the donation land claim of Joseph Fields. It was, at one time, a fine example of a typical rural Oregon farmhouse. This home was greatly damaged during the floods in 1996 and has been rotting since then with no serious effort from the city of West Linn to restore it. This home sits on or around the original 1850s homestead site of the Fields family and near the site of the Fields ferry, covered bridge and terminus of the Willamette Railway. According to the state of Oregon Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), this building is still eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation. In the 1984 Clackamas County Cultural Resource Survey, the home was listed in good condition with much of its original architectural features intact. Even in its current state of decay, SHPO believes the building has had few alterations from its original 1900 construction.The city of West Linn has so few historic buildings dating from 1900 and earlier. With the loss of this structure, our city will lose yet another Victorian-era home.

At one time, the city of West Linn was filled with small farms and farmhouses, but many of these examples have already been destroyed. This home is one of the most visible and the only historic farmhouse owned by the city of West Linn. Other cities, like Lake Oswego and Beaverton, have elected to use community support, as well as state and federal funds, to restore and maintain historic farmhouses in their community.

It is too bad that West Linn is attempting to tear down this piece of history. There is no chance to renovate or to save a historic building once it’s gone. Once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.I hope that it is not too late to save this piece of history. I do not want to say goodbye to this beautiful farmhouse overlooking the Tualatin River.

Danny Schreiber is a West Linn resident and a member of the West Linn Historical Society.


(Editor’s note: The following is a response from Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt: The Fields Bridge house suffered major damage in during the floods in 1996. The city of West Linn did not acquire the property until 2001. At that time, the house was rotted beyond repair. And, given the severity of the damage, it was cost prohibitive to restore the house.  Since that time, whenever the city has received an inquiry about the house, we have encouraged private citizens to look into ways to restore the house at private expense. The city’s community design process for the park in 2003 engaged residents in their vision for the park, but this house, given its condition, was never part of the park plan. Then, in 2007, we advertised for proposals for ideas on using the house, moving the house or fixing it. We got three responses, but none of them were viable. The city agrees that it is a neat, old house. This gives us the opportunity to work with SHPO as part of demolition process, and we also are putting up interpretive panels to talk about history of property.)



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