URGENT: National Preservation Month!


Call to Action – Email Letters to Ask for Historic Preservation on ERC Property in Jennings Lodge

May is National Preservation Month! An opportunity has presented itself to ask that some of the historic resources on the Evangelical Retreat Center property in Jennings Lodge be preserved.

There is a possibility that we may be able to save some of the historic buildings and landscape features on the Evangelical property – or at least get more substantial mitigation for their loss. Each and every person’s emails to the key state and federal organizations by close of business Friday, May 19th, can help.

Why Now?

This opportunity came about because the US Army Corps of Engineers has to issue a permit for certain work related to the proposed development. Through community outreach, the Corps was informed there are significant historic resources on the site (as was the State Historic Preservation Office), and surveys were done. The result was that 17 of the buildings on the property were deemed to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a district, and measures for avoiding, reducing or mitigating the adverse effect (of demolishing them for a subdivision) must be considered.

Thanks to Community Members

More community outreach put us in touch with national organizations who have a stake in historic preservation, and who have now sent letters to the Corps to get information and get involved! From them, we learned that the 100% destruction of a National-Register-eligible district (as is proposed for this property) is extreme and very unusual, and alternatives should be considered. We also learned that two organizations besides the Corps will also need to sign off on any agreements reached – the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington D.C. and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office.

What Can You Do to Help?

It’s important for all of us to let the three organizations know (in your own words) that you/we have a stake in the historic resources on this property (whether because you live here, or you care about preserving historic resources for future generations. or both).

Also Include One or All of These Points in Your Email

  • The historic resources on the property are eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places as a district. The project proposes to demolish 100% of the district, which is extreme, and doesn’t adequately recognize or preserve the local and national significance of this historic site for future generations. Modifications to the project need to be considered that would avoid destruction or reduce the adverse impact to some or all of the district.
  • The groves of trees on the property are also part of the historic landscape, and an important part of the historic national camp meeting movement (the camp meeting movement being one reason why this site qualifies as a district), and need to be included as a contributing historic resource.
  • The interiors of the buildings are also part of the historic resources, so reducing the impact to them should be considered, too. [If you know anything about the interiors, or know that items have been removed from the buildings, you could describe that.]
  • Ask the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation not to approve the memorandum of agreement on the plan for the historic resources unless these issues have been adequately addressed.

If you simply don’t have the time to compose your own letter, here is a sample ​letter​ that you can type your name into at the bottom and send in to the three email addresses. Though a personal email is preferred we understand that not everyone has the time​, and a sample letter is better than NO letter​.

Here is a summary of the events leading up to this.

How to Label and Where to Send Your Email

In your subject line, refer to the case description and number:

Re: Proposed Jennings Lodge Estates Outfall and Subdivision, Section 106 Coordination (NWP-2016-495)

Send your email to these three people/groups:

Dominic P. Yballe, US Army Corps of Engineers, ​ ​Dominic.P.Yballe@usace.army.mil

Anthony G. Lopez, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, ​ ​alopez@achp.gov

Jessica Gabriel, Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, ​ ​Jessica.Gabriel@oregon.gov

It would be helpful if you copy us (gennutt@gmail.com), so we can keep track of the communications.

Remember, our deadline is close of business Friday May 19th.

Thank you for caring about historic preservation and our community, and thank you for your help at this crucial time.


Mike Schmeer, Chair
Oak Lodge History Detectives

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OLHD May 2017 Meeting

7:00 P.M.

14496 S.E. River Rd. @ Maple St.


Is it Spring yet? There are signs that the winter weather is behind us and Spring may have sprung. Lets keep our fingers crossed for many more rainless days in the days and weeks ahead.

We will be meeting again on May 11th and, among other things, reviewing the “Bricks and Mortar Chapter II” presentation and continuing our Historic Houses At Risk discussion. The evening program is T.B.A., (as yours truly has been exceedingly busy).

If you have any agenda items please send them to me before the end of this week.

Join us May 11th and we’ll continue our investigations into our Oak Lodge history.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Oatfield House Demolition – Reprieve?

Image of Clackamas Review front page cover story - Oatfield House Reprieve, page 1Greetings:

Word has been received that the applicant, Paul Matveev, has WITHDRAWN his application to demolish the Historic Phil Oatfield house on Oatfield Rd. See the attached DECISION.

The hearing on this application, before hearings officer Fred Wilson, was held on April 20th. Clackamas County Planning, and the applicant Paul Matveev, testified in favor of demolishing the house. Opponents testifying were Mike Schmeer, representing the Oak Lodge History Detectives (OLHD) and the Oak Grove Community Council (OGCC), and Lisa Bentley and Pat Kennedy representing the Oak Lodge History Detectives.

This decision to withdraw the application follows the rather poor testimony on the part of Clackamas County and the applicant, and persuasive testimony in opposition by OLHD and OGCC. It is the opinion of OLHD that the application stood an excellent chance of being denied by the Hearings Officer, based on a number of omissions of the required steps in the review process by the applicant and Clackamas County, and the failure of the applicant to provide testimony in support of his own application. A denial by the Hearings Officer is final, and the only recourse the applicant would have had would be an appeal to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. Withdrawing the application allows the applicant to re-apply if he wishes to do so.

A newspaper article about the hearing from the Clackamas Review is attached in two parts. It came out Wednesday April 26th.

OLHD anticipates that the applicant will now submit a new application for demolition in the coming weeks, starting the process all over again, but likely satisfying the applicable zoning ordinance requirements better.

This all means that there is still time for a preservation minded individual to come forward and save this house! Please spread the word.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

Image of Clackamas Review front page cover story - Oatfield House Reprieve, page 2

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Oatfield House Demolition Update




On April 20th a hearing was held regarding the proposed demolition of the Philip Oatfield house in Oak Grove.  The hearing was held before Hearings Officer (H.O.) Fred Wilson, and was hosted by Clackamas County Planning & Zoning.

Arguments in support of the proposed demolition were presented by Senior Planner and Historic Review Board liaison Linda Preisz, presenting staff’s recommendation to approve.

Testimony in opposition to the proposal was given by Mike Schmeer on behalf of OLHD and the Oak Grove Community Council, as well as Lisa Bentley and Pat Kennedy both of OLHD.  No rebuttal was given by owner Paul Matveev.

The Hearings Officer has until May 5th to render his decision.  Below is a link to the article about the hearing written by Peter Wong for the Portland Tribune, which describes the hearing fairly accurately.


Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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The Oak Grove Girls Band

“In Buttons and Bows They Beat and Blew”

The Oak Grove Girls Band

Few people today will have any idea who, or what, the Oak Grove Girls Band was.  But between 1911 and 1914 this group of girls was a local sensation.

Oak Grove Girls Band photo 17 Feb 1911

The brain child of local resident Louis E. Armstrong the band consisted of twelve to 16 Oak Grove girls between the ages of 7 and 15. Armstrong “corralled a bevy of Oak Grove beauties” and organized them into “a kind of a band” in June 1910. The band, led by Ben Driscoll, made its first public debut at Concord School Dec. 20, 1910, subsequently playing at the Multnomah Co. Fair in Gresham, the Canby Fair, Rose Festivals, Elks Conventions, and community affairs and parades.

Photo of the Oak Grove Girls Band ca. 1912

They “became famous up and down the coast as the Oak Grove Girls Band – the first and youngest of its kind.”   It was reported that it was “the only organization of its kind in the state of Oregon,” and that “there are only four or five other little girls bands in the United States.”  Newspapers in Portland, Gresham, Oregon City and elsewhere published the schedules that included when the band would be playing.

Oak Grove Girls Band ad 1911- cropped

The majority of its life the band was led by Professor Ben Driscoll, “a musician from the old Baker Theatre” in Portland (established in 1901).  Driscoll and his wife Cerena lived in Portland and he would have commuted to Oak Grove via the Oregon City trolley.  At various times others such as Roy Searles and Professor York of Portland led the band while Louis Armstrong served as Business Manager and Treasurer.  Parents often accompanied the band to its performances.  In 1915 the band was merged with a Portland group and ceased to exist as its own band.

Members of the band held at least two reunions – one in 1954 and another in 1960 –  the women bringing their instruments and posing for photos.

Oak Grove Girls Band reunion; 25 April 1954

From the newspaper websites of The Historical Oregonian 1861-1987 and Historic Oregon Newspapers, combined with various genealogy websites, we know the names of most of the girls in the Oak Grove Girls Band.  In alphabetical order by their last names they were:

Hester Armstrong Hyde [dau. of Louis & Mattie; hus. Albert J. Hyde]
Ethel Bigham Lowry [dau. of John B & Cora; hus. Charles A. Lowry]
Madge Ellis Shrock [dau. of Arthur & Maud; hus. Melvin John Shrock]
Edith Griffith Williamson [dau. of Ernest & Agnes; hus. Harold]
Frances Griffith Crampton [dau. of Ernest & Agnes; hus. Don]
Margie McLees Dye [dau. of Edward & Lizzie; hus. Ernest H.]
Maud B. McLees Pomeroy [dau. of Edward & Lizzie; hus. Omer L.]
Katie (Kathryn) Oetken Shrock [dau. of Wm F. & Emelia Oetken; hus. Marvin]
Dorothy Spidell Mewhirter [dau. of Charles & Nancy; hus. Max]
Jesse Spidell McArthur [dau. of Charles & Nancy; hus. Leslie McArthur]
Ada Starkweather Johnson [dau. of Harvey & Mary Alice; hus. Louis M.]
Jean Starkweather Vermilye [dau. of Harvey & Alice; hus. Hobart P.]
Edith Turner DeWert [dau. of Nelson & Louise or Charles & Ann; hus. Elmer E. DeWert]
Bessie Vigles Moltzner [Mary Besse Vigles; dau. of James and Anna; hus. Jay S. Moltzner]
Ellen Worthington Oetken [dau. of Theodore R. & Mary; hus. Wm.]
Ruth Worthington DeFord [dau. of Theodore R. & Mary; hus. David]


Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives
April 2017

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OLHD April 2017 Meeting

7:00 P.M.

Oak Lodge Water Services Offices
14496 S.E. River Rd. @ Maple St.

April 2017 meeting announcement for Oak Lodge History Detectives

Greetings: At long last the snow and ice that plagued us from Old Man Winter
is behind us and we are ready to present Bricks & Mortar, Chapter Two.
What began as research into the history of a house in Jennings Lodge has led
to a fascinating story about a long forgotten and heretofore unknown brickworks.

Join us April 13th and discover how this neighborhood mystery was unraveled.
We are sure you won’t be disappointed!

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Photo of Oak Grove (late 1920s)

The Oak Lodge History Detectives would like to expand our collection of photographs from Oak Grove, and we are searching for additional photos. In partnership with the newly formed Oak Grove Historic Trolley Trail Association, OLHD will be making historic photographs available for the purpose of raising  awareness of Oak Grove’s history.

If you have any photos, or know someone that does, we would very much appreciate your sharing them.  They can be sent digitally to  Gennutt@gmail.com   or loaned to us to be scanned, with the assurance of our returning them.

Oak Grove has a rich history.  Please consider being a part of preserving it for everyone to enjoy.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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“Last Dance” For Historic Oatfield House

The historic  Phil Oatfield house, designated as the “John Oatfield House” by Clackamas County, is about to have its “last dance”.

Located at 14928 S.E. Oatfield Rd. in Oak Grove the recent owner has petitioned Clackamas County to demolish it.  Built in 1903 by Philip Oatfield, a son of pioneers Michael and Minerva Oatfield, the house has fallen into disrepair in recent years and the property has been purchased by a developer.

Clackamas County has posted this announcement on its website:

Public hearing on April 20 may determine future of historic landmark house

A Clackamas County land use hearing set for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 20, may mark the end of the historic Oatfield House in the Oak Lodge community just south of Milwaukie.

The hearing on demolition of the property, as requested by the property owner, will be held in the auditorium of the county’s Development Services Building, 150 Beavercreek Road in Oregon City. The county has the authority to delay demolition, but not to prevent it.

The public is welcome to attend the public hearing and to testify.

The John R. Oatfield House, known also as the Phillip Oatfield House, was designated as a historic landmark in 1987. The property has been vacant for more than two years and is in very poor condition. According to county planners and building officials, the structure is deteriorating rapidly and poses a safety threat to the community.

County staff worked for several months with the Oak Lodge History Detectives and Restore Oregon to find an organization or person with the resources and interest to restore the house. The attempt was unsuccessful.

Linda Preisz, a Clackamas County planner and staff liaison to the county’s Historic Review Board, says, “Unfortunately without the stewardship of a caring owner, preserving a landmark becomes an overwhelming task. Unless a philanthropic individual or group steps forward to restore this house or move it to a new location, this historic treasure will be lost forever.”

The Oatfield House was built in 1903 by Phillip Oatfield, John Oatfield’s brother. The Colonial Revival-style house is located on a large lot with a barn, sheds, a chicken coop and a well structure. The property also has four giant sequoia trees, a monkey puzzle tree, and grapevines estimated to be at least 75 years old.

John and Phillip Oatfield were the sons of pioneer Michael Oatfield, who arrived in the area in 1861. Michael Oatfield assembled 600 acres of land for orchards and farming, which was later expanded by his sons. The brothers were instrumental in establishing the Oak Lodge Water District and rural telephone service. John Oatfield sat on the local school board for 25 years, and was also responsible for obtaining a 10-mile special road tax to improve Old River Road and build Oatfield Road (named after his family).

The property started to decline in the 1980s, the property owner died in 2011, and the family sold the property in 2014. Since then the home has been left vacant.

For more information, members of the media and public may contact Preisz at 503-742-4528.


Rapidly rising property values, an increasing demand for housing, aging historic landmarks and inadequate preservation ordinances has led to the loss of many of our irreplaceable historic resources and seriously threatens our community heritage.

Testimony regarding this proposed demolition can be provided at the hearing, either orally or in writing – – or can be “submitted by email, fax, regular mail or hand delivery” up until April 11th to be considered by county staff in their issuance of a report.  County asks that the case file no. ZOOO9-17 be included in written testimony.

The Oak Lodge History Detectives (OLHD) would like to see this historic house saved, but unless someone comes forward to either purchase the property outright to restore it, or move the house, it will likely be demolished. OLHD urges the public to spread the word, and anyone interested in saving the house to please contact Linda Preisz (Clackamas County) at 503-742-4528 or email her at lindap@co.clackamas.or.us   Written testimony sent by U.S. Mail can be sent to

Linda Preisz
Senior Planner
Clackamas Co. Planning Division
150 Beavercreek Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045

Once gone our historical resources are gone for good.  Please take a moment to consider the consequences.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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OLHD April 2017 Meeting

7:00 P.M.

14496 S.E. River Rd. @ Maple St.


At Long Last


Find out how the History Detectives solved a local mystery!
Please join us for another great history oriented evening.

April 2017 meeting announcement for Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Clackamas County Historical Society Survey


The Clackamas County Historical Society is embarking on a public survey process to better find out WHY folks care about history and WHAT they care about with regards to history. CCHS would appreciate it if you would take some time to fill out this survey. You can find it at:


Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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