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Getting $20,000 Preserving Oregon Grant is helping to repair and replace the historic Ox Barn roof

The Aurora Colony Historical Society recently received a Preserving Oregon Grant of $20,000 toward reroofing the historic Ox Barn.

Total product cost $50,000 and the project has begun courtesy of Legacy Roofing out of Forest Grove.

The current wood cedar shingle roof on the Ox Barn was installed around 2000 and was nearing the end of its life when it was damaged during the February 2021 ice storm.

Limbs from an adjacent oak tree fell, penetrating the roof and damaging the flashing where the chimney engages the roof. In order to protect the integrity of the structure and the contents within, the building needed to be re-roofed. The space directly below the damaged portion of the roof contains a portion of the Museum's historical artifact collection.

COURTESY PHOTO: ACHS - Work on the historic Ox Barn in Aurora is progressing nicely as the roof is being replaced.

The building will be reroofed using CeDUR synthetic composite natural wood looking shake. There will be no changes to the pitch of the roof. Appearance will match that of a wood shake and be installed in a pattern consistent with the current roof.

"The Aurora Colony Historical Society (ACHS) evaluated a variety of roofing materials including true wood cedar, presidential composite shingles, and several synthetic roofing products. CeDUR came the closest to maintaining the look of a wood roof without being cost prohibitive," Director Jennifer Burns explained. "Additionally, according to the contractors, CeDUR has the longest lifespan of the three."

"We are thrilled to be able to use state-of-the art technology to ensure long-term preservation of this important structure," Burns added. "The damage of the 2021 ice storm hit at a difficult time during the pandemic for ACHS. The Preserving Oregon Grant made it possible for ACHS to select this newer product that gives us durability while retaining the building's historic look."

COURTESY PHOTO: ACHS - Work on the roof at the Ox Barn in Aurora.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) offers matching grants for rehabilitation work that supports the preservation of historic resources listed in the National Register of Historic Places or for significant work contributing toward identifying, preserving and/or interpreting archaeological sites.

In 2021, SHPO awarded 13 Preserving Oregon Grants to heritage sites, totaling $207,549, including the Ox Barn project.

The Ox Barn is believed to be one of three existing community buildings which date back to the Aurora Colony period (1856-1883). The Aurora Colony is unique in Oregon history, representing Oregon's only pioneer-era Christian communal society. Around 600 members of the Colony made the journey to Oregon on the Oregon Trail or via Cape Horn between 1853 and 1870.

They created textiles, furniture, basketry, tin work and other hand-crafted objects that are unique to the Aurora Colony, and their buildings formed the core of Oregon's first National Register Historic District.

The building was constructed about 1863 to serve as a communal barn to house the Colony's oxen that had first been used to pull the wagons across the Oregon Trail.

After oxen were no longer necessary, the building was converted by the Fredrick Will family to a store, and during the twentieth century it became the home of the Ezra Hurst family.

In 1963 Amy Hurst sold the sturdy building to the newly organized Aurora Colony Historical Society. The building was renovated, thanks to the generosity of Ruth McBride Powers and Barbara Barker Sprouse, and opened to the public as the Ox Barn Museum in 1966. Today, the Ox Barn serves as the primary exhibit space and staff office for the Old Aurora Colony Museum.

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