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Oregon Heritage money helps historic renovation and preservation efforts

Historic properties and archaeological projects across Oregon are getting a financial boost with the latest round of state grants.

A state Parks and Recreation Department division called Oregon Heritage issued the grants. Some – for so-called “Diamonds in the Rough” – are to restore a property’s historic character. Other grants are for preserving sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Verlean McCoy, president of the Creswell Heritage Foundation, recently showed KLCC the interior of the town’s original school house that was built in 1875.

“The floor is canvas over newspaper,” said McCoy, peeling back a layer, exposing yellowed shopping ads. “And it was installed in 1927 over a fir plank floor.”

McCoy said their grant of $14,550 will finish the interior of the building, which had also been used as a meeting hall, church, clubhouse, and library in its 148-year history.

“So much has happened here, and people who live here, their forebearers worked here and used this building and it was important to them,” said McCoy. “This kind of helps you focus on that history and how it moves forward.”

Other notable features include a series of planks that were painted black to serve as the school’s chalkboard, which were concealed by books during its library phase. The Creswell Heritage Foundation was bestowed ownership of the building by city officials in 2018, just a year after the organization was founded with the purpose of restoration and stabilizing the building.

McCoy said improvements include a new bathroom, ductless heating and cooling, modern lighting, and a new porch and roof.

“We probably have done 50 grants,” smiled McCoy. She said ultimately, they would like to hand over the keys to the school house to a civic group or government agency to use, and maintain.

The Creswell Heritage Foundation will hold an open house on July 4th, to show how much work has gone into its restoration over the past six years.

Altogether, 18 grants totaling $278,681 have been awarded this round.

The most recent recipients are:

Facade restoration grants in Cottage Grove, Lebanon, Lincoln City, Moro and Portland.

Two archaeology projects:

o Southern Oregon University Lab of Anthropology for study faunal materials from the Britt Garden site in Jacksonville.

o Oregon State University College of Agriculture for archaeological investigations at the Letitia Carson homestead site in Benton County.

Preservation of 12 historic properties:

o Arts Council of Pendleton building, Pendleton

o Ascension Chapel, Cove

o Baker City Downtown for work on the Masonic Lodge building, Baker City

o Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery, Coos Bay

o City of Wasco for the Wasco Train Depot building

o Creswell Heritage Foundation for the Creswell School House

o Geer Crest Farm and Historical Society for the Geer Farmhouse, Marion County

o Pacific Railroad Preservation Association for the SPS700 Locomotive, Portland

o Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice for Celia’s House, Medford

o The Traveling Children’s Heritage Museum for the Triangle Lake Round Barn, Lane County

o Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Department for the John Quincy Adams Young House, Beaverton

In a release, Oregon Heritage stated that these grants are approved by the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation, “a nine-member group that reviews nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The members are professionally recognized in the fields of history, architecture, archaeology and other related disciplines.”

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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