Historic homes can’t be saved from demolition

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Neighbors are sad to see a handful of historic buildings in Northwest Portland come down without an opportunity to save them.

The buildings on the 1300 block of NW 19th Ave. were removed from their historic designation before a new protection went into effect. Historical records show the buildings were built in the 1800s.

A new rule that went into effect on September 1 didn’t happen in time for neighbors to try to save the structures from demolition.

Portland artist Aaron Trotter preserves old homes like these in his sketchbook before they disappear.

“I can capture certain details that you don’t really get in a photograph,” Trotter said. “These buildings are supposedly going to be gone in 2 or 3 days. It makes me sad.”

Places like the Architectural Heritage Center have been fighting to change things, calling for stronger measures to prevent demolition of historic buildings. Ross Carson with the Bureau of Development Services admits that right now there aren’t many protections.

Carson said even when a building has a Historic Resource Inventory ranking, that doesn’t protect it from being demolished. But the new grace period will apply to around 2,700 structures that are ranked as more historically significant on the HRI.

“When a property owner requests any property be removed, we will not give a demolition permit until 120 days after that request,” Carson said.

Fred Leeson, president of the Architectural Heritage Center said the delay is meaningless if the developer doesn’t want to come to the table to preserve, move or salvage the structure.

“The old buildings especially speak and I feel like some of them can actually sing because they are so beautiful,” Trotter said. “More and more, we have these square blocks of very Soviet-style housing with very little character at all.”

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