Scooping up local history
How can you know where you're headed if you don't know where you've already been?
That question is at the crux of a new partnership between the Oswego Creamery and the Oswego Heritage House that will bring a photo history project to the little ice cream shop and restaurant located in the heart of downtown.
Over the past several months, Oswego Creamery General Manager Matt Whipple and Heritage House board member Mark Browne have collaborated to bring Lake Oswego's history to life in a series of photographs that highlight the town's roots.
"The neat thing about this project is we're bringing history to the people. We're not pounding them over the head with it, rather they kind of stumble into (it) and have this, 'Ah ha!' moment of recognizing the location," Browne said. "They see the change this city has gone through and they experience that."
Whipple took over as general manager back in October of last year, and rather than changing things right away, he took some time to take stock of what the Oswego Creamery meant to the community and what type of role he felt it still had to play.
"I believe this place is like the heartbeat of downtown Lake Oswego. With all the changes and new buildings, that's cool, but what about the history behind it?" Whipple said. "When you change things up but don't remind people where they came from, they begin to forget, so it's kind of cool to give them these reminders."
The project comes as the Oswego Creamery is revitalizing its menu and undergoing minor renovations to freshen up its look. The photographs in the series are hung throughout the restaurant for customers to view, ponder and think about where the City of
Lake Oswego has been, where it is now and where it's heading.
Photos in the collection include a shot of the old concrete plant that used to sit at what is now Foothills Park, parades and children dressed up around beginning of the 20th century and historical events like the 1949 fire that destroyed the old city hall that sat across from the old Oswego State Bank that is now the Oswego Creamery.
"This building was built in 1922 as a bank. My office is actually the old vault, so this structure is already a part of the living history of this town," Whipple said. "History is the identity of this business and of the town."
According to Whipple, the Oswego Creamery will continue to work with Browne and the Heritage House to freshen up the photo series each quarter. They're also working to build a shadow box with vintage memorabilia from the town's past. He's already seen the new project serve as a catalyst for dialogue between his staff and customers to discuss the town's history.
"I've always been into history myself. I love U.S. history and learning about old towns like Lake Oswego," Whipple said. "We have a map of the city and where all these pictures are located. It's brought a lot of conversation between customers and our staff, and we really pride ourselves on customer service and the relationships we build with regulars."