Only 62 designated Landmark buildings remain in Lake Oswego. Today, the community faces the sixth public hearing in three years regarding the delisting or major alteration of a Landmark property: the 106-year-old Christie School. Until recently, delisting applications were based on city code which allows removal of designation only if specific criteria are met. However, a new trend towards delisting began with the recent request to delist the Carman House, Lake Oswego’s oldest home, which dates from Oregon’s settlement era. Because designated properties are protected by city code, delisting provides a path to major alteration or demolition.
The basis in the Carman House case is a 1995 state statute ORS 197.772(3), commonly referred to as Oregon’s “owner consent” law. In December 2013, the Lake Oswego City Council voted to delist the Carman House based on an interpretation that subsequent owners of designated properties retain the right to delist them if the designation was contested at the time of listing. The Council’s decision would have paved the way for demolition of the Carman House, however, the Lake Oswego Preservation Society appealed this decision to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) in hopes of saving the Carman House and setting a precedent for other locally-designated properties across the state.
Fast forward to today. Youth Villages, the Tennessee-based owner of Christie School, is seeking to delist their 1908 Landmark building based solely on Oregon’s owner consent statute and not the city’s criteria for delisting.
The school has demonstrated national, state, and local historic significance. Seattle-based architect Conradin Alfred Breitung designed the building. Two of Breitung’s Seattle buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Christie School appears to be Breitung’s only design in Oregon. On July 4, 1908, Governor Chamberlain and Archbishop Christie delivered the keynote speeches to open the 3.5-story masonry school—originally built as a Catholic orphanage for girls. In effect it became the first building to be constructed on the Marylhurst Campus, however, was later transferred into different ownership.
The Lake Oswego Preservation Society, with the assistance of Restore Oregon, is seeking to be successful in both retaining the Christie School Landmark designation and in winning an interpretation of ORS 197.772(3) that is favorable to preservation. If we’re not successful with the latter, it may have a negative impact on historic resources statewide for the foreseeable future.
The Lake Oswego Historic Resources Advisory Board will hear the application to delist Christie School on July 9th at 7:00 PM.
LUBA will hear Lake Oswego Preservation Society v. City of Lake Oswego the next day, July 10th, at 9:00 AM.
8/6 UPDATE: The Advisory Board denied the application to delist Christie School and LUBA remanded back to the City the decision to delist Carman House.