Oatfield House Demolition Update

OATFIELD HOUSE DEMOLITION

UPDATE

Greetings:

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.

http://cni.pmgnews.com/pt/355365-235351-oatfield-house-may-get-reprieve-from-demolition

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

THURSDAY APRIL 13TH
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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Wanted!

WANTED!
___________

OAK GROVE PHOTOGRAPHS

 

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

THURSDAY APR. 13th
7:00 P.M.

OAK LODGE WATER DISTRICT OFFICES
14496 S.E. River Rd. @ Maple St.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

At Long Last

BRICKS & MORTAR
CHAPTER II

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

Greetings:

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:

https://goo.gl/forms/oLnZyfEx7BbwbPY92

Sincerely,
Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Oatfield House Demolition Update

Greetings:

Many of you may be wondering about the results of the “hearing” on March 9th pertaining to the proposed demolition of the Phil Oatfield House.

The “hearing” was intended to give interested parties an opportunity to testify before the Clackamas County Historic Review Board, with a resulting up or down decision.

It turns out that the county came to realize that, under some new rules, they were reviewing it incorrectly – that it was being reviewed as a Type II application when it should have been reviewed as a Type III application.  A Type III application must go before a Hearings Officer, as opposed to being reviewed solely by the Historic Review Board.   So the March 9th meeting became more of a gathering for a discussion — no decision was made. So it’s Back To The Drawing Board.

An actual HEARING before a Hearings Officer has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m.  April 20, 2017.  So mark your calendars!

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Oatfield House Demolition Hearing

PHIL OATFIELD HOUSE HEARING
THURSDAY MARCH 9th
Clackamas County Development Services Bldg.
Room 118
150 Beavercreek Rd.
Oregon City
7:00 P.M.

This is a final reminder that the hearing regarding the proposed demolition of the Phil Oatfield House, at 14928 S.E. Oatfield Rd., will be Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m.

This hearing exactly coincides with our Oak Lodge History Detectives meeting. If you would like to still attend our OLHD meeting you may send in written testimony prior to the hearing to:

Linda Preisz
Senior Planner
lindap@co.clackamas.or.us

Your testimony should cite ZOOO9-17 “Demolition of Oatfield House” in your subject line and testimony. Mailed testimony using the U.S. Postal Service may not arrive in time.

OLHD appreciates your interest.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, OLHD

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William Finley Photo Collection

Greetings:

Recently the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon State University combined efforts and produced a several hundred image collection of images from the Finley family. They call it “Reuniting Finley and Bohlman“. For historians interested in Jennings Lodge this is a treasure trove of Jennings Lodge history ca. 1908-1910.

Photograph of William L. Finley holding desert sparrows (1910)

William L. Finley holding desert sparrows (1910)

Photograph of H. T. Bohlman and William Finley photographing an eagle’s nest (1904)

Photograph of H. T. Bohlman and William Finley photographing an eagle’s nest (1904)

Included among these photos are images of William (Bill) Jennings fishing, Thomas Spooner (“Mr. Spooner”, husband of Ella S. Jennings) and Irene Finley, two images of the Jennings family home on the bank of the Willamette River, Wm. Finley’s FIRST house perched on a narrow flat area above the river (and just below the current Finley house) in the adjacent property to the Jennings house, a Willamette River steamboat, several images of the Willamette River shoreline in the vicinity of Hull Ave., one image (at least) of the west end of Jennings Ave., Finley and Bill Jennings harvesting hay, views of the Finley property looking east from the house, “Spring Branch” (the spring fed creek that provided their water) William Finley himself — as well as hundreds of wildlife, flora and fauna images.

Mr. Jennings fishing (1908-09-26)

Mr. Jennings fishing (1908-09-26)

Photograph, view of a boat on the Willamette River in front of the Finley house, taken from study window (Dec. 1907)

View of a boat on the Willamette River in front of the Finley house, taken from study window (Dec. 1907)

These images were scanned at such a high resolution that you can zoom in a great deal and observe the detail — leaving one to feel that he is actually there in 1909. They give us a spectacular snapshot into life along the Willamette in 1909. As far as I’ve seen these images are in the “public domain”, and can be downloaded.

Finley house, snow scene (1909-01-09)

Finley house, snow scene (1909-01-09)

Bill Jennings loading hay (1909-07-29)

Bill Jennings loading hay (1909-07-29)

Some of these photos demonstrate, when coupled with other documents, that the Spooners occupied the Jennings family house (Martha Jennings’) for a time after her death in 1900. The images show the fence and gate between the Jennings house and the Finley’s property immediately north of the Jennings house . Most of these were taken in the winter of 1909. Two photos of the Jennings house, when zoomed in, show how the Jennings house (at the west end of Hull, along the river bank) looked in 1909.

Don’t miss out — set aside some time and browse through this spectacular collection of history. Do a search on “Jennings”, or “house”, or “Spooner”, or “Willamette” and take a walk back to the early 1900’s.

https://oregondigital.org/sets/finley-bohlman

Enjoy,
Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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