On February 28 of this year, Kevin and Darya Rose, you came to the Willamette Heights neighborhood here in Portland and purchased the house at 1627 NW 32nd Avenue. It’s a great house, with a great history, in a great neighborhood.
The house was one of the first homes in Willamette Heights, built in 1892. There are pictures of the house from the 1890s, perched alone in grandeur on the recently logged hillside rising from Balch Creek. The years since then have seen multiple owners, and the house has been the site of many neighborhood gatherings, including annual Easter egg hunts — the sort of hunts and gatherings at which neighbors meet while their children play, and lifelong relationships are formed all around.
The house has been well-loved and cared for. To be sure, it’s well over 100 years old, like many of the homes in Willamette Heights. For many of us, that has meant upgrading wiring or plumbing, or even replacing foundations. We understand that you may be now facing those sorts of costs, and we can assure you that they’re worth it. There’s no greater value than in preserving the character of the neighborhood.
When several of us met you at this year’s Easter egg hunt, we were eager to find out about your plans. We were reassured that you had no plans to build on the spare lot, and were relieved to hear that you were committed to remodeling rather than demolishing the house.
Against this background, we were surprised to learn of the events of June 13-17. At seemingly lightning pace, it appears that you notified the City of Portland that you were withdrawing the house from the City’s landmark inventory, applied for a permit to build a new house on the site, and obtained a permit to demolish the house. Because you withdrew the house from the landmark inventory, you were no longer obligated to give public notice of the intended demolition, nor were you required to delay the demolition so that neighbors’ comments could be received.
Now, we don’t know what to expect. We wait, listening for the men in the trucks, the clank of bulldozer treads, the crane with the wrecking ball. And yet we hope to convince you that there’s a better prospect for the future. We see your family enjoying our historic neighborhood in a beautifully restored house that fits in with its neighborhood and carries on the traditions of that neighborhood. If you choose not to bear the costs of remodeling, we see another lucky family in that wonderful house.
The alternative would be terrible. We see neighborhood protests and calls to action. And ultimately, likely, we see destruction, and a new house. Nice as it might be, it stands out oddly in the neighborhood. There's a family there, sometimes, but they don't enjoy the neighborhood, as they don't interact with it. And there's something lost: old structure, old bones, history, and community.
Save your house, Kevin and Darya, please… Keep it, and remodel it into the elegant home of your dreams: We'd love to have you as those neighbors. Or sell it to somebody who likes it for what it is: a great old house in a great old neighborhood.
Please sign this petition to persuade the Roses to save their house. Feel free to contact the neighborhood petitioners for additional information. Time is of extreme essense as there is no legal delay possible given the issued demolition permit. Please share with your friends, neighbors, and social networks.