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Oregon City Public Library becomes permanent host for 16-foot piece of history

You can now view a piece of history with last month's permanent installation of a "Free Oregon City Elevator" sign over the hold shelves at the city's public library, 606 John Adams St.

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - A sign that hung over the original Oregon City Municipal Elevator is now displayed as art for the holds and DVD area of the city's public library.The sign hung on the original Oregon City Municipal Elevator constructed in 1915 and was removed when the current elevator was constructed in 1955. Rising 130 feet in 9 seconds between downtown Oregon City and the historic McLoughlin neighborhood, the unique American tourism draw/commuter vehicle continues to operate as one of only four outdoor public elevators in the world.

COURTESY PHOTO - In this historic photo, a 'Free Oregon City Elevator' sign hangs over the original Oregon City Municipal Elevator constructed in 1915.Oregon City librarian Aaron Novinger thanked preservation experts at City Hall and the Downtown Oregon City Association for their help with the project to bring the 1915-era sign back in public view.

When the sign came out of storage, dents needed to be hammered out, fractured letters in its wooden "Free" part were glued back together, and its metal "Oregon City Elevator" part was tested for lead.

Carrie Crook, who manages the staff that operate the elevator, started asking around about the sign when she heard rumors it was saved years ago. She said the city was "very willing" to help fix up and properly preserve the sign if she found somewhere to put it.

"So I asked the library, because I wanted everyone in the city to have access to their history for free, and they also had space to display the giant 16-foot sign," Crook said.

Current Oregon City elevator.It's unclear how the sign ended up in private hands after the 1955 construction. The sign was donated to Oregon City in 2015 by a private citizen from Milwaukie and was displayed on Dec. 5, 2015, for the 100-year anniversary of the elevator.

"We can't speak to the sign's life after it was removed in 1955," said city spokesperson Kristin Brown. "The city has stored the sign until it was determined to have a new home in the Oregon City library."

Posters under the newly displayed old sign share additional details about the history of the elevator and its significance to Oregon City. The installation of the sign filled a wall that has been blank in the holds area since the 2016 reopening of the expanded and remodeled Oregon City Public Library.


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