PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At the gateway to Portland’s historic Laurelhurst neighborhood stands a regal, Spanish-mission style home, called the Markham House. It is currently being renovated after escaping demolition, but it wasn’t an easy process.

The 6,000 square foot, 1911 house on the corner of NE Glisan and NE 32nd Ave. was in bad shape. A developer planned to tear it down and build three new homes in its place. But neighbors worried the loss of the house would be a huge loss for the city itself. They raised $35,000 in earnest money and then builder John McCulloch dug into his own pocket.

“I think now I’m at $2 million,” he tells KOIN 6 News.

The fifth generation Oregonian says saving historic homes in Portland is important.

“Change is coming really fast with our population explosion, and I feel we have to react quickly, or we’re going to lose what makes Portland, Portland.”

The Markham House was originally built as a real estate office — the first one in Laurelhurst. It was never intended to be a residence. But McCulloch has turned it into one, raising the roof ten feet while keeping the towering chimney.

This is an image of John McCulloch, who saved the historic Markham house from demolition

McCulloch has saved two other homes from the wrecking ball and plans to restore those too, even it he loses money. He also plans to sell the Markham House sometime this fall, for less than what he’s invested. He says it’s worth it.

“There’s no going back, and once you lose your cultural heritage, it’s gone forever.”