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Oregon City volunteers had hoped for faster renovation timeline of historical landmark

Federal officials announced last week that the McLoughlin House in Oregon City will be closed to the public throughout 2020 for a "much-needed" major rehabilitation.

COURTESY PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE - Volunteer Richard Matthews is a tour guide at the McLoughlin House in Oregon City. In 2020, the house will be closed for a major rehabilitation.Local advocates had been hoping that the renovated McLoughlin House would reopen in time for its usual celebration of the anniversary of Oregon's founding on Feb. 14, but under the construction timeline announced by the National Parks Service on Dec. 10, the 1845 house won't reopen until spring 2021. The house is typically closed for two months during the winter, and its last day open to the public this year was Dec. 7.

In the house's first major construction project in more than 50 years, one of the state's oldest structures will receive foundation stabilization, new gutters, mechanical system upgrades, a stair rail, an ADA ramp, new historically accurate wallpaper, curtains and carpets.

"Dr. John McLoughlin is known as the 'Father of Oregon' due to the assistance he provided to Oregon Trail emigrants," said Tracy Fortmann, superintendent of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. "His home is a wonderful place to learn about the history of the Northwest and the American experience. These repairs will go a long way to preserving the house well into the future."

In 1909, the McLoughlin Memorial Association, or MMA, saved the house from destruction by moving it from its original location at Willamette Falls to a city park on Center Street.

The memorial association, the nonprofit partnering organization supporting the national park site, will continue to operate its bookstore in the historic Barclay House, located next door to the McLoughlin House. This bookstore offers a variety of books and gifts related to the history of the area. Proceeds benefit the memorial association and educational programs at the site.

The Barclay House will reopen in February 2020, after the house's seasonal winter closure. The surrounding Oregon City park also will remain open to the public.

"We are so pleased to work with the National Park Service at this historic site, and we are happy that together we will continue to serve the public during this closure," said memorial association President Joan Williams. "At the Barclay House, the MMA and national park rangers will welcome visitors, host public programs and interpret the history of this place."

National Parks Cultural Resources Program Manager and Museum Curator Theresa Langford said federal officials will be installing new carpets, draperies and wallpaper in the house as part of this rehabilitation.

"Showing what a home looked like in the mid-19th century may surprise some visitors, as the colors and patterns are very different from today, but it is key to understanding what the McLoughlins' lives were like and how they fit into Oregon City society," Langford said. "We are grateful to have had the guidance of Mary Grassick, a historic-furnishings specialist from the National Park Service's Harper's Ferry Center, every step of the way."

As construction progresses, the National Park Service plans to provide updates to the public at nps.gov/fova/blogs/mchorehab.htm.


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