New plans submitted by developer

Preservationists are cheering at the news: The city of Gresham's principal urban planner, Ann Pytynia, said it appears the historic Hamlin-Johnson House will be saved.

Plans have been resubmitted for a development that could have seen the destruction of the house at 1322 S.E. 282nd Ave., built by 1853 pioneer settler Charles Hunter Hamlin, and possibly one of the oldest houses in Gresham.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - The Hamlin-Johnson House at 1322 S.E. 282nd Avenue, built by 1853 pioneer settler Charles Hunter Hamlin, has been saved from destruction.The property is being developed by owners Fred and Elizabeth Asa, and the original plans showed a lot line going through where the house now stands and called for its demolition.

Alice Duff, a member of the city's Historic Resources Subcommittee, then wrote a letter to the Asas that may have swayed them.

“There are very few houses of this age and condition left in Gresham ... It may be even older than the Zimmerman House, operated by the Gresham Parks Department. The Hamlin-Johnson House epitomizes the mid-19th century, Victorian farmhouse built by a homesteader by hand,” she wrote.

Multnomah County records list the house as being built in 1904, but Duff said that is more likely the year the house got a permit for electricity or plumbing and was built many years earlier.

The Hamlin-Johnson House is not listed on the Register of National Historic Places and it was somehow missed when Gresham did a survey of historic places in 1987-1988, Duff said.

Duff says the Asa family wants to develop the 3.5-acre plot into a 20-lot subdivision. In her letter, she suggested that plot lines could be changed so the old house can be saved or suggested that a way might be found to move the house. She said she was told by Pytynia that her letter may have had some effect.

Pytynia didn't go into detail about the resubmitted plans, but stated in an email, “The Asa subdivision has been resubmitted with plans showing they are preserving the house.”

Staff planner Ken Onyima will check the plans by the end of the month, according to Pytynia.

“If the application is complete, it will be about 60 days from the determination of completeness to a decision,” she wrote.

Both Duff and Brandon Spencer-Hartle, field programs manager for Restore Oregon, are thrilled with the news that the house will be saved. Spencer-Hartle said Portland demolishes more than one house per day and neighbors are often caught off-guard.

But in some cases, he said, as with a historic home in the Willamette Heights neighborhood that was scheduled to be torn down, and now with the Hamlin-Johnson House, comments from the public and the concern of preservationists can lead developers to reach a compromise solution.

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